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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.

©2016 Alexandra Oliva (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

" 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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Howard
  • Cumberland, MD, United States
  • 07-16-16

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fun & Heartfelt Adventure

I downloaded the audio version via Audible to keep my company during my daily work commute. Although I'm not thrilled about the Audible narrators, Alexandra Oliva's wonderfully engaging, heartfelt and descriptive story reached in, grabbed me and invited me along on "Zoo's" adventure. On several levels I could identify with different characters, particularly Zoo. So entertained was I, that when I reached the end, I started listening again from the beginning...twice! Savoring a total of three times now :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Such a good concept but not the story I hoped for

There were so many interesting directions this could have gone and it just didn't take any of them. Seemed more like a senior creative writing paper commentary on reality shows. Just kept going. No sympathy for the main character. Ending seemed like she just got tired of writing---I'm sure it was an artistic way to end it, but not very satisfying.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ann
  • ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States
  • 08-04-16

Good premise, but frustrating heroine

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Fairly well-spent.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The reality show premise with a pandemic happening during filming.

Have you listened to any of Mike Chamberlain and Nicol Zanzarella ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. Good narrators.

Did The Last One inspire you to do anything?

Make myself finish the story, though the heroine was overly dramatic and almost hysterical and in denial about what she saw. Her refusal to accept reality was frustrating to me, because it made the book overly long.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Great premise, mediocre execution

Any additional comments?

I wasn't sure if I was supposed to like the main character, Zoo, or dislike her. In the end I found her grating on my nerves because she was so callous and unfeeling to other people. I also thought her motivation for going on the show was ok at the outset, but as the story deepened it wasn't enough to carry me through. There had to be something more to what drove her, murder, accidental death, something else.

Surprisingly, I found the reality show sections of the book incredibly boring. I was much more interested in Zoo's story. I also felt the reality show sections were handled poorly. They would have been much better had there been some development and odd occurrences along their journey instead of just getting sick at the very end.

The audio performances were good, well acted.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

A good idea for a storyline but didn’t quite meet its potential. To many monotonous details about the game. The characters/ contestants were formulaic and irritating. I found myself fast forwarding to get to the Mae and Brennen storyline which was only marginally better. The end twist was predictable and disappointing. After grinding through the minutia of the game, the reader deserves to be present when Mae/Sam reunites with her husband. What was probably meant to leave the reader to his imagination, turned out to be anticlimactic and lightweight. Also, it doesn’t make sense that Mae would become the bad guy in the altercation with the two men at the store. Then men were clearly deceptive and inappropriate. This change in Mae’s attitude reduced her to a insecure, annoying female. Not an appealing heroine. Not worth the $20 I spent on Audible.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

So much potential but missed

I love apocalyptic stories. This book missed the mark because there was no suspense and it didn’t keep my attention. I became annoyed on how long it took for the character to realize what was going on. And once the characters found out what was going on the book ends. The story has so much potential but did not take advantage of the potential plots that could’ve been interesting if the book went in other direction.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Worth the credit, starts slow but stick it out.

I really enjoyed this book. Although there were times when it was so slow I thought about stopping but I definitely recommend sticking through until the end. The only reason I didn't give this five stars is because I wish that the ending had been followed through on more. It's not so much how the storyline ended but that I wish it was written about in more depth. Even taking a few chapters out of the middle to allow more development of the end story would have been better.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Had great potential.....

This book started off great! The concept of the book was so interesting but the author lost me about halfway through. After finishing, I felt there were so many loose ends and way too much time spent going in between multiple perspectives. It was as if halfway through the book the author decided this needed to be a series rather than a single novel.