Saturday, July 23, 2016

#Book #Review...The Last One


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.


Let me first discuss what I loved about this book. Oliva really knows her Reality TV. She most definitely did her homework and passes with flying colors. What she demonstrated is what I’ve always said about Reality TV, that it’s not so real after all. Because let’s face it, in real life, there aren’t any do over buttons, editing tools or delete functions. Oh sure, there are many times we’ve all said we wish we could change something horrible that has happened in life, but the fact remains, that’s an impossible feat. No matter how difficult an unfortunate incident is to process, you just can’t change what happens in real life. But, when on a supposed reality show, you have editors and producers who spin the story the way they want their viewers to see it to keep those ratings going and to keep that bottom line in check.

Zoo and eleven other contestants signed up for this new reality show. Their sheer will power and faith will be tested to the limits, as the producers of this show literally brought these people to hell and back again. Why would anyone subject themselves to cruel and highly unusual punishment? Money, of course! Each of them has their own personal reasons for signing up for several weeks of hell in the wilderness. Make no mistake, for each of them, no matter how small or large their personal beliefs in what they were doing, it all boiled down to having the title of having survived the tests of the outdoors and that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Oh, but wait a damn minute, will there be a pot of gold and accolades waiting for them at the end?

What Zoo eventually finds out as she embarks on her hellish journey isn’t exactly what she initially thought she signed up for. The contestants begin to turn on one another as they use all their faculties to outwit their component. But, what exactly are they really doing? Strange occurrences begin to happen, as the reader views Zoo’s world through her eyes. And the picture that eventually comes into focus will leave you wondering. The one problem I had with this story is that Oliva brings the fear, and then while you’re reading, stretching your eyes and heartbeat elevating with each word, somehow you’re let down. I love horror stories! And to me, she kept scaring me and then when I thought something major was about to happen, she yanked the fear back leaving me numb. That began to aggravate me. The story left me with too many questions and not enough answers, or at least answers that satisfied me. I kept waiting for explanations, but was left feeling empty. 

Oliva is an amazing writer and she wrote a dynamic story, but I’m wondering if this is what she going for? I’m sort of on the fence with this one. I don’t feel the story gave the explanations I was looking for. She had a good story going and really brought you to that ecstasy of fear and then you get there and she let you go. That’s not exactly what I was expecting. It got to the point where I no longer cared about the characters, except for Zoo. I did care for Zoo and I was rooting for her, but then she sort of made me angry with her stupidity. For as smartly as she played the game, some of her actions made her appear dumb, and I didn’t like that much. 

Mello & June gives The Last One five stars for the writing, but with all things considered, gives three stars as a whole. It’s a fast-paced story and will keep you engaged, but I leave it up to the readers to decide if you agree with my assessment on the fear factor? The book is on sale now wherever books are sold. This is a believable story, however, I just wish there was a stronger explanation. I encourage you to read it. I’d be interested to hear others’ opinions on this story.

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer