The Last One

  • by Alexandra Oliva
  • Narrated by Mike Chamberlain, Nicol Zanzarella
  • 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


What the Critics Say

"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)
"Haunting, moving, and remarkable, Alexandra Oliva's debut novel is clever in its concept and gripping in its delivery. This propulsive book is for everyone who ever thought reality television signaled the end of the world." (Karen Joy Fowler)
"Taut, tense, and at times almost unbearably real, The Last One is both a compelling read and a terrifyingly believable evocation of survival against the odds." (Ruth Ware)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I had to finish it and finish it fast.

I found The Last One to be a very interesting read. It has been a while since I devoured a book of this size in four days.

This is the story of a woman struggling to compete and survive despite being the best equipped for what lays ahead. I enjoyed reading Zoo's journey, but I have to say I felt that her reason for participating in this television reality contest and other parts of her backstory were glossed over. Maybe I just needed to know more about her past to really know what this contest meant to her.

I also had a hard time believing some of the geography mentioned in the book and how Zoo kept to the forests on her journey home. These are minor quibbles but they took me out of the story as I tried to get a handle on where we were. The story moves along at a very good (and in some cases a very fast) pace even though there are a lot of pages devoted to characters that really just don't matter. There are a couple of other points in the story that, in my estimation, defy logic. However, expanding on those here would give up some spoilers which I expect would ruin your overall enjoyment of The Last One. So, curl up near the air conditioner or slap on some sun screen and take the hike of a lifetime with Zoo!

For those who make a comparison between this book and Station Eleven, I believe this is a tighter story and one with I'd rather read again.

I docked one star from the audio performance because there were times I thought the male narrator was inadequate. I can't really put my finger on why I didn't care for Mr. Chamberlain, but I know that I found his cadence was often annoying or too much in contrast with Ms. Zanzarella.
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- Howard "When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!"

Surprised I survived

Understandably this book has some great reviews. It's a different concept, reality TV meets real human horror. Plus the writing is excellent. Despite these qualities the story line couldn't hold it together for me. The character the reader follows is the least interesting of the characters and quickly becomes sappy and annoyingly self-absorbed. There could have been more development of discussion points - the "reality" to reality TV, race, gender, religion, human coping, etc, etc., but they are either treated with bias so there isn't room for discussion or not given enough attention to make an impact. Also, the injections of social media reactions were neither humorous or productive. Alas, it just wasn't for me.
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- green ice cream garden

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-12-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio