Genre: Dystopian, Thriller
Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of suspense.
She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.
It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it human-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.
Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.
But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.
Sophisticated and provocative, The Last One is a novel that forces us to confront the role that media plays in our perception of what is real: how readily we cast our judgments, how easily we are manipulated.
I had pretty high expectations for this book as I had read several reviews from my fellow book bloggers that said they enjoyed it. The blurb instantly caught my attention as well because I like a good dystopian novel and I’m a huge reality TV junkie. While I liked this book, I did have a few problems with it along the way.
The setup confused me quite a bit right from the start. First it’s told from the POV of the cast and production of the reality show, In the Dark. Then it switches to the perspective of Zoo, one of the contestants on the show. Her parts are a few weeks after filming begun and are easier to follow then the portions with the entire cast. The crew gives the cast nicknames, and there are a lot of contestants, so I had issues keeping everyone straight at first. When Zoo is narrating things, she uses real names which threw me off again.
I did enjoy the reality show aspect and it reminded me a little bit of the TV show, Unreal. I love this show, it fascinates me to see just how much production teams manipulate the cast on reality shows. The book sheds a similar light as the manipulation and deceit is brutal. Some of the chapters close with pieces from online message boards and I also appreciated this touch. It was current and so accurate.
Parts of the story just seemed to drag a bit for me and I had a pretty hard time staying engaged and eager to see what was going to happen next. I never wanted to quit reading it though, I just had to psych myself up a little to power through. I would say this book is decent if asked to describe it in one word, I just can’t muster up any excitement about it. I will be interested in seeing new things from Oliva though.
Overall rating: 3/5