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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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I was really torn between four and five stars on this book. I think a lot of people would give it five stars. I had a few issues that kept me from going with the five. I wish Amazon would let us do half stars.
The book is fascinating, intelligent and very well-written. The item description tells you basically what it is all about – an extreme reality TV show, a group of people isolated in the wilderness and pushed to their limits. That is the gimmick of the game – they are not voted off, they have to give up and ask to be removed. So you know it’s going to be rough. The producers play mind games with them, adding to the physical strain. There’s more than a little cruelty involved, all for the entertainment of the masses. And then things go very, very wrong, horribly wrong, and not just for the reality show participants.
One woman, nicknamed “Zoo,” completely alone during a “solo challenge,” finds things...
This book is really two stories - one about a wilderness survival reality show and one about an apocalyptic event which seems to have coincided with the show.
The part about the reality show was fascinating! Wow - I wondered if the author was on such a show or knows someone involved. It was so interesting to learn how contestants dealt with the cameras and how situations were manipulated to present certain contestants in a positive or negative light for viewers.
The show contestants were called by their occupations.....Trapper, Waitress, Zoo, Rancher, Carpenter Girl, etc. This helps the reader keep them all separate and sort of gives the reader expectations of their abilities. I did think it would have been good to have the folks be not so stereotypical to their occupations....like the waitress be really good at building shelters or something.
The challenges are based on survival scenarios, such as tracking someone, catching food, etc...
I love reality TV. I love it. So obviously when I read the synopsis of debut novel, The Last One, I had no choice but to read it. And it didn't hurt that it was compared to Station Eleven. Zoo joins a show called In The Dark, which offers a million dollar prize to whoever wins. And how do you win? You have to be the last person standing. The only way contestants are disqualified are if they say the phrase "ad tenebras dedi" and opt to quit themselves. None of them have any idea what the show has in store for them.
The book jumps between different perspectives every chapter, which I generally find fun to read, as I did here. Sometimes we have Zoo, our main character's perspective starting mid-show in the midst of the solo challenge. Then we'll have the editor's perspective, which is pretty much just an omniscient look at the show, with some minor Zoo-bias because he seems to favor her, that starts from the beginning of filming. And every once in a while we get to see some...
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