Book Review · Crime/Thriller

Reality TV eat your heart out // The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

91qomhzkjql-compressorThe Last One by Alexandra Oliva
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: 14th July 2016
Buy: Hardback | Kindle
What They Say:

A dazzling and unsettling novel of psychological suspense. Survival is the name of the game as one woman’s mind and body are pushed to the limit.


When Zoo agrees to take part in a new reality TV show, In the Dark, she knows that she will be tested to the limits of her endurance. Beating eleven competitors in a series of survival tasks deep in the forest, living on camera at the extremes of her comfort zone, will be the ultimate challenge before she returns home to start a family.


As the contestants are overcome by hunger, injury and psychological breakdown, the mind games, tricks and hazards to which Zoo is subjected grow dark beyond belief. This isn’t what she signed up for: the deserted towns and gruesome props, the empty loneliness. Is this a game with no end? And what is happening away from the cameras’ gaze? Discovering the truth will be just the beginning…


Translated into over twenty languages, The Last One is a gripping, provocative tale of survival – of the fittest, of the best loved, of the relationships that sustain us. It’s a searingly modern thriller and a timeless story of a woman’s journey home.


The Last One is one of those books that leaves you gasping for more – it fully immerses you in its pages, until you can’t think about anything else, and, for my, I couldn’t even start a second book until I had finished The Last One because I was thinking about it so much. It’s very rare I feel like I’m actually, genuinely in the novel, like I’m there alongside the characters, but I felt fully immersed in The Last One. I was right there with Zoo, and the other contestants, I was facing what they were facing and it was horrifying.

At it’s heart, this book is the best mash-up of all the reality television you see on your screens week after week – it’s a book I have longed for, forever. I mean reality TV is like one of the highest watched programmes and yet there’s never been a book set in the  Big Brother house, or similar, or out in the Australian jungle mimicking I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, when I reckon they were make excellent novels, as proven by The Last One, which is basically about twelve people who go into the woods and last one standing is the winner. But the challenges are brutal – Hunger Games brutal, although you couldn’t escape the Hunger Games at least in The Last One there was a nifty get out phrase if you couldn’t hack it. It was exhausting reading about the challenges and seeing Zoo’s frame of mind as she completes challenge after challenge. Her narrative was absolutely spot-on, I was there with her the whole way, on edge, because I was questioning what was real and what was for the sake of the show.

But it was the third-person narrative that really amazed me, because it allowed us to see all of the contestants, through the veil of how the reality TV folks saw them, warts and all and that was something else. To see the allegiances, and who was there to win, and the spats and the friendships, and the awful, horrible host.

This book is like your worst nightmare come true. But it’s amazing to read. It really does swallow you whole and doesn’t let you go until you’ve finished. I can see why this book was so hotly contested, why it’s being translated into all these amazing languages, because this is a book that needs to be read. This is a book that will give you nightmares for months afterwards, and depending on how the US election goes, could well be America’s next reality. (That is hopefully a joke.) The Last One is a must-read for 2016, and I will definitely be getting the paperback for my keepers shelf because a re-read will be in order, hopefully when a movie comes out…?



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