The Last One

The Last One

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
15
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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.

Praise for The Last One

"[Alexandra] Oliva brilliantly scrutinizes the recorded (and heavily revised) narratives we believe, and the last one hundred pages will have the reader constantly guessing just what Zoo is capable of doing to find her way back home." -- Washington Post

"A high-concept, high-octane affair . . . The conceit is undoubtedly clever and . . . well executed, but what makes The Last One such a page-turner is Zoo herself: practical, tough-minded and appealing." -- The Guardian

"Oliva takes this (possibly) post-apocalyptic setting, grafts on a knowledgeable skewering of the inner workings of reality television and gives us a gripping story of survival. . . . This is the genius of Oliva's storytelling. . . . [She] makes a stunning debut with this page turner, and becomes a writer to watch." -- Seattle Times

"Oliva delivers a pulse-pounding psychological tale of survival. . . . [She] masterfully manipulates her characters and the setting, creating a mash-up of popular TV genres: Survivor meets The Walking Dead ." -- Bookpage

"The TV show Survivor meets Cormac McCarthy's The Road in Oliva's stellar debut. . . . Fueled by brilliantly intimate and insightful writing as well as an endearing and fully realized female lead, this apocalyptic novel draws its power from Zoo's realizations about society and herself as she struggles to survive long enough to somehow make it back to her home." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

" The Last One seamlessly melds two of our contemporary obsessions--the threat of global catastrophe and the staged drama of reality TV--into a fiercely imagined tale of the human psyche under stress. This is an uncompromising, thought-provoking debut." --Justin Cronin

"Like The Hunger Games, Alexandra Oliva's novel is page-turning and deeply unsettling." --Rosamund Lupton

"Tense and gorgeous and so damn clever . . . I loved every second." --Lauren Beukes
Publisher: New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781101965085
Branch Call Number: FIC OLI
Characteristics: 294 pages ; 25 cm

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I really liked this book. Going in between different narrators was smart. There were new ideas for the apocalypse genre, and the I found the main character, "Zoo's" interpretation of what was going on around her fascinating.

j
jkroselawn
Jul 08, 2017

Do not waste your time! I rarely return a book w/o finishing it, but I forced myself to give this one 50 pages. It is even rarer for me to post a review. However, I am very discouraged by the fact that this book is written by a young woman. I found it to be sexist and racist. I am surprised none of the other reviewers here have mentioned that. The women contestants are said to be chosen for their hair color or breast size. Is that how the men were chosen? And they are referred to by profiled terms such as "Waitress" (not Waiter or Waitperson?) and such unnecessary racism as "Black Doctor" and "Asian Chick" --a double slur! Yikes. After it was discovered that this woman had skills (so one can only assume all women are surmised to be unskilled in this world...), she is referred to as "Asian Carpenter Chick" -- great. With so many better books out there, I am returning this and moving on to another novel, although I actually feel like burning it and taking it out of circulation!

j
jessica_reads
Apr 29, 2017

Conceptually this book could have been especially intriguing, playing with the boundaries and intermingling of the perception of reality through media and our own interaction with the world. The behind the scenes of a reality television show feels realistic (I say this being of limited exposure to the genre.). The game is contrived and masterfully edited to influence and dictate viewer opinions of the participants. The internet article comments section chapter breaks are fun (with a cult TV reference or two) but don't really add much but to redirect the reader between Past Zoo and Present Zoo. Zoo's survival instincts and drive - challenged by both a Survivor-like TV show and an actual plague - naturally encourage the reader to question their own abilities to survive in those circumstances.

It wasn't terrible, but the casual reader may not want to continue the story. The ending of the book felt open enough in case Alexandra Oliva wanted to continue the story as a series, but would be fine as a a standalone book.

JCLDianeH Apr 29, 2017

What is real and what is staged? How can we tell what is happening naturally and what has been manufactured? And is Reality TV really just a product edited for maximum viewership?

AL_LESLEY Dec 01, 2016

Told in two interfiled parts, one the commentary on modern social media/entertainment and the other, Zoo's story from her own pov. Now, the commentary was the more entertaining part of the book, the odd manipulations of editors, the impersonal nature of it all (hence the lack of actual names) but this aspect of the book is just this... commentary, not a story.

Zoo's story picks up and leaves off between flashbacks to the beginnings of this reality tv show while she is presuming to be nearing it's end. This part is more repetitive, with Zoo's constant self-reassurance about the game and playing the game and looking for clues and creating clues and justifying everything. For such a short book it's surprising I needed to put the book down to take a break from Zoos inner game playing monologue.

But in the end you see all the whys and wherefores of Zoos behavior and I became more forgiving. Though I just wanted her to let the kid speak for once!

m
miaone
Nov 30, 2016

I found it breathtaking and could hardly put it down. I didn't dare read it at bedtime or I'd never have gotten to sleep.

b
BWilsoned
Nov 11, 2016

When the contestants agreed to be on a survival contest show, little did they suspect it would become a real-life survival struggle. When a pandemic sweeps the world as the show is being filmed, some contestants find it hard to separate themselves from the "reality" show and reality. Taut and suspenseful, this story shows how far a person can go in their minds to make events fit their internal script.

p
PearlyBaker
Oct 28, 2016

My exercise life becomes inextricably enmeshed when I am reading an awesome apocalyptic tale. As I toil to push through what has been described as the toughest workout in Kansas City during my cardio, core, power, sculpt, yoga class I pretend I am training for surviving a weaponized plague or whatever it is that brings about the next extinction event. Despite their rantings to the contrary I am sure that would be brought about by Donald J Trump if God forbid he was ever allowed to become President.

t
trulyjennifer
Sep 22, 2016

My Summary: Twelve contestants, in an attempt to win $1M, agree join a “Survivor-esque” reality show. The show, a sort of survival game, is set in the woods. The game has many challenges that are designed to test the contestants endurance and skills. When the contestants are separated during a challenge, and the camera crews disappear, Zoo can only think the new deserted world she has stumbled upon, that includes rotting corpses, is just part of the game. In an effort to survive until the end, she can not quit. Later, she starts to wonder if she is still in the game or if the Earth has encountered the Apocalypse.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the idea and premise of this book – it had all the great makings of a good story. Unfortunately, I did not care for the way the author delivered this tale. The book switches between Zoo’s (the Protagonist) perspective and a sort-of omnipresent narrative perspective. The omnipresent perspective is very boring and confusing because it is written more like a director’s view , where the characters are referred to by their attributes as opposed to their names. From Zoo’s perspective, the characters are called by name. I almost felt like I needed to take notes in order to keep everyone straight. I also found the omnipresent narrative perspective to be almost over-telling, to the point where it bored me to tears. The only reason I finished this book was because I enjoyed the writing from Zoo’s perspective. I felt a connection with her and would have liked to read more from her POV.

Would I Recommend This Book? Probably not. I felt like I had to force myself to complete it. If you are one that enjoys a different type of writing perspective, then I say
The Last One is certainly that…different.

ehbooklover Sep 12, 2016

I picked this one up due to its ultra-intriguing premise. It starts a bit slow, but quickly turns into a twisty, frightening, and disturbing read that highlights what can happen when the fine line between reality and "reality" television becomes blurred.

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