The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (first published in 2016 by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Random House)
In the Dark is the latest reality TV craze. Think Survivor meets Bear Grylls: Ultimate Survival. It’s new and it’s got an edge – the filmed material is aired within the week of action; it’s like you’re watching the contestants in real time.
Also, the only way to leave the show is to quit; none of that voting nonsense.
Each of the contestants has their own strengths, skills and reasons for being on the show (other than the $1 million prize, of course). Our story follows Zoo, a woman who wants a final adventure before she and her husband settle down to have kids.
As the contestants delve deeper into the trials of the game, they are also victim to dehydration, hunger, lack of sleep and some strangely twisted challenges which leave them unable to see the line between reality and reality TV.
When the group begins its first big solo challenge, none of the participants know what to expect. They commence their search among cameramen and interns buzzing around with intent and feverish with flu. When the crew begins to dissipate, Zoo imagines more stealth – think drones and hidden cameras.
As she continues with her clue in mind – Home Sweet Home – she begins to consider that perhaps not all is as it seems, and desperately questions what is staged and what is not, no longer able to tell the two apart.
The Last One is definitely a reader-orientated book. A fresh and unique plot with so many unexpected elements make the story into the reader’s own solo challenge – what will happen next? It is satisfying and beautiful – alternating between dream and nightmare, as beauty and love are interspersed with horror and decay. It stresses the importance of not postponing life – of living for now and living fully.
In addition, the narrative emphasises the importance of relationships and the potential devastation that is isolation. As Zoo becomes ever more taunted by what is and what is not, she proves her strength and dedication, as she makes her way home; she’s in it to win it.
Keen on reading this book? Buy your copy now.