Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

4 stars for The Last One by Alexandra Oliva.

This novel reads like a wilderness survival reality show. Titled In the Dark, it has all the trappings of a reality TV series. All except one. One that has somehow gone wrong. Very wrong.

In the Dark is a race, or rather, a series of small races where the contestants accumulate advantages and disadvantages. No one gets voted off and the game will continue until only one person remains, hence the title The Last One. But, no one - not the creators, not the contestants, not the audience - knows how long the show will last. In short, this race does not have a finish line; the only way to get out of the race is to quit.

The series of races or challenges, be it team or solo, are well-thought-out and skilfully relayed to readers and audience alike by both first and third person narratives. In fact, the game is so well played that I look forward to each and every challenge and tackle them alongside the contestants with relish.

Though this is no horror story, there are much mysterious forces at work that give me the creeps - unique personalities, survival priorities and of course, the Woods itself. I would say that all goes well until the part where the self-denial kicks in and blurs the line between reality TV and reality itself. The story becomes too far-fetched from then on.

One show. Twelve contestants. It is by no means an easy feat to remember all twelve characters, their ensuing dispositions and enjoy the story at the same time. So, I will suggest to jot down notes on a piece of paper the moment you get started on the book. This is exactly what I have done and I find myself turning to my notes ever so often as I read along.


Tracker aka Cooper (red)
Zoo aka Mae Woods aka Sam (sky blue)
Air Force aka Ethan (navy blue)
Rancher aka Julio (black & yellow)
Biology aka Sofia (orange)
Engineer aka Albert (maroon & brown)
Black Doctor aka Tyler (mustard yellow)
Exorcist aka Randy (lime green)
Carpenter Chick aka Amy (neon yellow)
Banker aka Elliot (black & white)
Waitress aka Heather (violet)
Cheerleader Boy aka Josh (pink)

Publisher: Random House Lcc Us
Publication date: 12 Jul 2016

*** Favourite quote ***

The rules of three. A bad attitude can kill you in three seconds; asphyxiation can kill you in three minutes; exposure in three hours; dehydration in three days; and starvation in three weeks—or is it three months?

~ The Last One
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 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 of 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 either be her triumph or her undoing.

*Blurb from author's website*

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