The Last One, by Alexandra Oliva

25 Feb
the last one alexandra olivas

Five of Five Stars

I really enjoyed this book and found it to be a very intense read especially toward the end. I actually just sat and read through the last two thirds of it non-stop, I couldn’t put it down.

It’s a pretty simple plot: several people are contestants on a reality “Survivor” type show, meanwhile there’s an actual world pandemic that the contestants are unaware of. At what point will they realize they are no longer contestants but real world survivors?

But the reader is also unsure as to when the show ends and reality begins. We are taken back and forth from the starting of the show, to some point in time a month later as we follow the last lone contestant wondering when her latest “challenge” will be over. There’s an element of the “Unreal” TV show as we see all the behind the scenes of shooting a reality show, and we also see the social media comments.

This is Alexandra Oliva’s first book, and she comes across as a very smart woman. She includes so much detail about the contestants’ survival that it almost crosses over super-interesting into tedious territory – but not quite. There are a lot of contestants in the show, and she really separates the real people from the edited-for-show people, highlighting the “reality” of “reality TV”. It can be confusing to remember who everyone is at first, but this confusion is acknowledged in the book as the normality of starting any new reality show when there are too many contestants to get to know. In the end you meet the important ones, the ones who will last.

The end of the book sort of switches gears and changes from a search for home to an *unspoiled* search for something else. Usually an extended ending will irritate me, but I was 100% along for the ride with this one.

The book may not hold interest for anyone who is bored by reality shows or any type of survivalist plot (oh, and there are lots of scenes of skinning animals, be aware), but overall I found it to be an interesting take on the end-of-the-world genre, and the reality show portion is dealt with seriously, not as a comedy. There are other themes as well: gender roles, motherhood, and psychological breakdowns.

It’s not a heavy read but neither is this light and fluffy by any means. It’s not quite in the literature category, but it’s not meaningless entertainment either. This is a good, solid book; it scared me often and had me reading as fast as I could to see what would happen next.

Thank you so much to NetGalley for the early read, I can’t wait for the rest of the world to get their hands on it.

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