The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
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.
A Survivor-type reality show turns horrific, but Zoo can’t grasp the truth and clings to the hope that everything is just a part of the show – elaborate props and hidden cameras. The show starts like many others, with likable and unlikable characters (who soon become the “villains” of the show). And drama makes for better tv. After team challenges, comes the solo adventure – when Zoo becomes separated from the others. And her reality becomes skewed.
The Last One is a survivor story told in a unique way. We follow Zoo’s journey, with flashbacks to the start of the show. I thoroughly enjoyed this way of unfolding the story and characters. Suspense builds from the post-apocalyptic Zoo and her companions, to a Zoo who can’t comprehend what has happened in “present day.” The story is well-paced and wrought with excitement, drama, and engaging characters. The adventure builds to a surprising but satisfying conclusion. I highly recommend this one for those who enjoy psychological thrillers.