A Novel

by Alexandra Oliva

A dazzling and unsettling novel of psychological suspense. 

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.
Sophisticated and provocative, The Last One is a novel that forces us to confront the role that media plays in our perception of what is real: how readily we cast our judgments, how easily we are manipulated.

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The Last One seamlessly melds two of our contemporary obsessions — the threat of global catastrophe and the staged drama of reality TV — into a fiercely imagined tale of the human psyche under stress. This is an uncompromising, thought-provoking debut.
— Justin Cronin, NYT bestselling author of The Passage
Haunting, moving, and remarkable . . . Alexandra Oliva’s debut novel is clever in its concept and gripping in its delivery. This propulsive book is for everyone who ever thought reality television signaled the end of the world.
— Karen Joy Fowler, NYT bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Tense and gorgeous and so damn clever. I loved every second.
— Lauren Beukes, author of international bestseller The Shining Girls
Page-turning and deeply unsettling.
— Rosamund Lupton, author of international bestseller Sister
Taut, tense and at times almost unbearably real, The Last One is both a compelling read, and a terrifyingly believable evocation of survival against the odds.
— Ruth Ware, author of international bestseller In a Dark, Dark Wood
The TV show Survivor meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in Oliva’s stellar debut… fueled by brilliantly intimate and insightful writing as well as an endearing and fully realized female lead.
— Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Part wilderness-survival thriller and part dystopian pandemic story . . . a gripping portrayal of an ordinary person’s evolving survival instincts as she realizes she can’t trust the reality she sees.
— Booklist
“Clever in the best sense . . . an astute and compelling entry into the post-apocalypse genre.”
— Kirkus Reviews