The Last One - by Alexandra Oliva

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Apocalypse and post apocalypse books are very popular right now and The Last One is another installment in an overflowing genre. The Last One is a little different though. The story focuses on Zoo, a reality game show contestant, on a survivor type reality show. While Zoo is left alone in the woods as part of a solo challenge something happens to the outside world. The TV show is a cheesy, big budget show with no end objective except the last person still playing, wins. The contestants are subjected to staged scenarios and at some point it becomes difficult for Zoo to discern what is real and what is not.

The story switches back and forth from a third person narration of the game and the contestants to Zoo's point of view as she is trying to complete the challenge. It becomes clear to the reader that something has happened but even the reader has doubts about what is real and what is staged.

I enjoyed this book and the premise of a survival game show during some kind of apocalypse event. As the book neared the end, the suspense level went up. Which is a big plus for me. The writing from Zoo's point of view flowed really well and it was easy to get into a rhythm while reading. The third person narrative didn't flow as well and was a little choppy for me (hence the half a star deduction from me). But it did get the idea across of how this "reality" show was more staged than real and why Zoo behaved the way she did. I would have preferred the entire book written from Zoo's perspective especially when the contestants come across things in the game that are staged for their benefit.  I think this would have increased the suspense and anxiety level. The idea is refreshing and different than most of the post-apocalypse books out. 

From the books blurb:

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 man-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.

About the author:

Alexandra Oliva was born and raised in upstate New York. She has a BA in history from Yale University and an MFA in creative writing from The New School. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. The Last One is her first novel.

I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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