Alexandra Oliva’s 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.
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. Haunting, moving, and remarkable.
Tense and gorgeous and so damn clever. I loved every second.
Page-turning and deeply unsettling.
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.
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, this apocalyptic novel draws its power from Zoo’s realizations about society and herself as she struggles to survive long enough to somehow make it back to her home.
In her debut novel, Oliva has written a book that is clever in the best sense: she is able to skewer reality show culture and dystopian tropes while never letting concept or critique become more important than a good yarn. The novel is thoroughly steeped in its times . . . but unlike other dystopian novels, it doesn’t so much use contemporary times to warn us about potential future collapse as it shows what impact our times have on the ways we think about identity and human relationships. An astute and compelling entry into the post-apocalypse genre.
Oliva brilliantly scrutinizes the recorded (and heavily revised) narratives we believe, and the last 100 pages will have the reader constantly guessing just what Zoo is capable of doing to find her way back home.
Oliva takes this (possibly) post-apocalyptic setting, grafts on a knowledgeable skewering of the inner workings of reality television and gives us a gripping story of survival…This is the genius of Oliva’s storytelling… [she] makes a stunning debut with this page turner, and becomes a writer to watch.
A high-concept, high-octane affair … The conceit is undoubtedly clever and well executed, but what makes THE LAST ONE such a page-turner is Zoo herself: practical, tough-minded and appealing.
Phony merges into real, and real into hallucinatory. Ms. Oliva’s tricky writing makes her a hard act to follow, in more ways than one.
THE LAST ONE is psychological suspense skillfully played out for modern electronic media, and it just might keep you glued to your e-reader all night.
Taking a shot at the rash of reality TV that has flooded the airways, this clever story operates on a number of levels and will provoke some interesting discussions about news media, modern society and popular television culture. You’ll find this a memorable read that will linger long after the novel is finished.
Unmistakably very smart, indeed—full of action but also of sophisticated psychological suspense. The show is interrupted by a cataclysmic, civilization-disrupting event. Maybe. Contestants must now battle for their joint survival and a way to live in a radically altered world. Or, they’re just coping with the producers’ most ingenious artificial plot-twist ever. I’ll say no more about the truth of the matter, except: the book does not cheat. It keeps every promise it makes to the reader.
[Oliva] combines a critique of reality TV with the best in spooky apocalyptic fiction. She examines what impact popular culture has on the way we think about identity and human relationships….just great storytelling.
With THE LAST ONE, Alexandra Oliva has written a debut novel that combines elements of reality TV with those of a post-apocalyptic world to create a tense atmosphere, filled with memorable characters who move through the game and surrounding world with varying levels of proficiency… For fans of Survivor and The Hunger Games, Oliva has melded the best of both worlds and added her own unusual twist to produce a fast-paced world that expertly balances fiction and faux reality.
Character development is excellent, particularly Zoo, who we learn about in small bits and pieces as the story proceeds. Interestingly, we are able to see how human emotion and psyche play an integral role in her survival. The constant ebb and flow of emotion is clearly visible as we watch Zoo tackle each hurdle she encounters. At times, her drive is almost beyond comprehension, the human psyche proves to be a powerful force…Miss Oliva’s writing is strong and powerful, and the story moves smoothly.... Her next offering will be worth the wait.
Alexandra Oliva delivers a pulse-pounding psychological tale of survival… [She] masterfully manipulates her characters and the setting, creating a mash-up of popular TV genres: ‘Survivor’ meets ‘The Walking Dead.’
Part wilderness-survival thriller and part dystopian pandemic story, Oliva’s debut is a gripping portrayal of an ordinary person’s evolving survival instincts as she realizes she can’t trust the reality she sees.