I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but I certainly didn’t anticipate the roller-coaster, heart-pounding ride it took me on. From the very first page I was hooked, but even then I didn’t realise just how much I would come to love this story, or the characters in it.
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.
Before I get properly into my review, I need to tell you something… this is my kind of book!! There’s apocalyptical elements, survival, some kind of ruler dictating boundaries (in this case the producers), an epic main character, no plain good or evil characters, a majorly gripping storyline and more. It’s not your save-the-world, heroine, sacrificial kind of dystopia; it’s so much better.
From the very first page the author had me doubting myself about what was real and what wasn’t within the world. I mean, it’s not every book you read where the author tells you someone’s going to die in a number of weeks – it had me intrigued from the get go.
I loved the alternating chapters – in one you’d have the first person narrative of Zoo, and in the other there’s an ambiguous third person narrator. This voice gives inside information about the show, including how it will be edited so events will be portrayed differently to the general public by the producers. As well as alternating in perspective, the chapters are also set in different places in time. The chapters from Zoo’s point of view are in the present, whereas the other chapters are set back at the beginning of the competition and lead up to where Zoo is telling her bit of the story. This was definitely a good choice because reading every page made me desperate to know what had happened
Everything was going swimmingly (ish) for the characters and I’d started to get to grips with what was happening when BAM, PLOT TWIST. I can’t say ANYTHING about it because to do so would be to give away one of my favourite storylines to this date. But what I will say is that it made me doubt myself A LOT, and I didn’t know what to believe. I felt like I was Zoo and this was happening to me, it really didn’t feel like just a book. The plot twist was bloody brilliant and I still haven’t got over it.
The Last One reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games, in the best way. It’s like a slightly more adult and sophisticated version, minus saving the world and big dramatic events, plus apocalypse survival. I loved The Hunger Games with all my heart when I read it, and there still isn’t anything I’d change about it, but The Last One is perhaps a better option for those who aren’t fans of the stereotypical dystopia, especially as it’s only one book, so really does hold your attention. It also reminded me of Station Eleven, so if you’re a fan of that, then this one’s definitely for you!
Another part I loved was the characterisation and the way I didn’t detest any of the characters, even the nutty one. Each character had their reason for being there, and none of them grated on me like in a lot of books. Zoo has become one of my favourite characters because her thinking process and personality really resonated with me, and she had the ability to make me laugh and cry throughout the whole thing.
This might not be YA, but it’s still one for the reading pile. If you can deal with being extremely tense and emotional throughout the whole book, then you need to get this now because it is a piece of incredible fiction that at times had me thinking it was actually real.