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The Last One    by Alexandra Oliva order for
Last One
by Alexandra Oliva
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's something both very different and totally engrossing - Alexandra Oliva's The Last One. In it, a happily married, adventurous young woman decides on one last fling before she and her husband start a family. But after she signs up for a reality TV wilderness challenge, she gets much more than she bargained for.

The show producers tag her 'Zoo' for her love of animals. Other contestants get names like Tracker, Rancher and Waitress. The author takes readers back and forth in time between the early days of the production of In the Dark and the time it all fell apart. Essentially, a terrible pandemic strikes while contestants refine their survival skills out in the wild, and after they are separated from each other. Some, but not all, are extracted.

Zoo is one of the ones left in the dark. She suffers several days of illness but assumes that it was something she ate or drank. Afterwards, as she sees signs of devastation all around her, she's in denial. Is it real or a part of the reality TV experience that is still remotely monitoring her? Somehow it's easier to believe the latter. It's only after a young survivor, Brennan, convinces her to let him tag along with her that Zoo gradually starts to accept what has really happened.

The Last One is very well done and kept me glued to its pages, anxious for Zoo's survival. The tale seems especially apt when current global politics also feels like reality TV. I keep pinching myself and asking, 'can this possibly be real?'

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