Wilderness survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in this fast-paced novel of suspense in the vein of Yellowjackets.
“Taut, tense, and at times almost unbearably real.”—Ruth Ware, author of One by One
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. One of the 12 contestants on In the Dark, a reality show set in the remote Pennsylvania wilderness and billed as a "reality experience of unprecedented scale," is Zoo, so called by the show's producers because she works at a wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation center. Zoo decided to go on In the Dark as one last big adventure before settling down to start a family with her husband. The host explains that the game is a race with no finish line; the only way out is to quit. Trouble arrives in the form of an unidentified pathogen that begins to kill off a substantial portion of the world's population. Alone on an extended solo challenge, Zoo has no idea that the lines between reality and reality show have been blurred into nonexistence. 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 and, hopefully, her husband.
I read it a year ago and I still think about it. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Might be one of my favorite contemporary books, honestly. I’m craving more from this author!
I NEED MORE! :)
I absolutely loved this book!!! I really wish there was a sequel explaining how the man tracks down his wife! One of the best books I've read in a while!
The last one
Great book. Clever premise. The line between a reality show and a horrific reality blurred artfully with the main character exerting greater and greater efforts and rationalization to overcome the dissonance she feels as the reality grows more awful. She is a believable and a sympathetic human being. Really good read.