Title: The Last One
Author: Alexandra Olivia 26
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Reality TV shows. We have all seen them. All of us at least understand the premise. People sign up to compete in some manner for fame, glory, and usually some sort of monetary reward. Usually the competition involves harsh physical conditions, though sometimes, it can also include embarrassment and a variety of demeaning tasks. Also, none of these programs really encourage teamwork.
So when there’s a book’s premise revolving around a reality show, the audience is pretty sure to understand the setting. In this book, a young woman that the producers refer to as Zoo, is up against a variety of other teammates in a survival show. They’ve all been warned that conditions will be harsh, sometimes frightening, and not at all pleasant. They’ve each also been given a safe word (though it’s actually a phrase) that when uttered, will remove them from the competition immediately no questions asked.
There are injuries. Staged situations. Anger. Arguments. It’s all a bit crazy. And for most of the filming, the contestants have no way of knowing whether the horrifying situations that they are faced with are real or staged. It can really mess with your head.
However, things move VERY quickly from reality game show to horrifying reality when a mass epidemic spreads across the country. During the filming. Leaving the contestants on their own in the wilderness and completely unaware that the bodies they are seeing, the devastation they are experiencing, and the terror on the streets is REAL and not part of the program.
This book was well outside the usual for my reading palette. I usually stay away from horror and though it’s labeled as Mystery and Thriller, it was pretty horrifying to read.
That said, the writing was brilliant. The premise was unusual and creative. It really is a high quality ride with a lot of twists, turns, and it definitely makes you think. Though I’m not a fan, it’s not because the book wasn’t well done. It really was.
It’s just not my speed. I read a lot of mystery and thrillers – in fact I had just read several David Bell novels and that was what gave me the idea that I might enjoy this one. Unfortunately, I didn’t so much. Again – not because the book was bad. It wasn’t at all. I just am not a fan of books that rattle about inside your head planting horrifying visions of what might happen. Add to that some ideas about children being parentless and I’m done.
However, I will say that if you enjoy the Walking Dead or survivalist type programs, you might absolutely love this one.