The Last One

Alexandra Oliva
The Last One Cover

The Last One


Survival reality show meets apocalyptic event, with the main character caught in the middle. Unfortunately this good premise isn't well served by the novel provided.

This story is told from two perspectives. The primary one is that of a contestant in a reality TV survival show on a "solo challenge" that has gone way beyond what she expected. The secondary perspective is that of the producer (and later the fans, via internet) of the show, who refers to everyone on the show by a cringe-worthy caricature, e.g. "zoo", "rancher", "asian chick" and "black doctor". Interestingly, the contestant mentally refers to the various cameramen she sees by giving them labels as well.

This book felt a lot longer than 304 pages, and not in a good way. The producer and crew didn't come off as a true character, and later morphed into a way of reporting the situation in the current day. Either would have worked, but the hybrid felt clumsy - though still conveying information. The contestant perspective is strictly first person, with observations and reflections reported as is, including impact of grief and suffering. This worked pretty well, though at times it felt a bit long. In order for the premise to work, she has to bury all curiosity about the things she encounters, and that doesn't come across in her character from either perspective. For instance, this could have been specified more stringently in the "rules" of the game, or her character could have been described as "single-minded". More than one reviewer has said they wanted to shake her, to wake her up.

An interesting premise, will likely be a book club choice, compared with Station Eleven and Good Morning, Midnight. For me, this is the least of that set.