Twelve contestants have been chosen for a brand new reality show called In the Dark. They know it's a survival based show. They know they'll be cut off from the outside world. And they know they're competing against one another to win. What they don't know is that the show doesn't end until only one of them is left.
They also don't know that the world around them is fighting for its own survival as a mysterious illness begins attacking and killing off much of the population.
Zoo, dubbed so by the production team, is one of ten remaining contestants at this point. She's been following the clues - blue, as per her bandanna color - but hasn't seen any of the others for some time. She also hasn't seen the host, her cameraman, or any other crew, but she knows they have drones for filming. She expects it's all supposed to make the show more dramatic, kind of like the dead body she and Waitress and Rancher came upon on their last team challenge. That one didn't look as real as the one Zoo came upon by herself, though. After coming so far, Zoo is determined to win. And she thinks she knows where she's supposed to head next.
Alexandra Oliva's debut rocked my world, readers!
I loved the concept - reality show contestants stuck playing a game they don't know is essentially over as a viral apocalypse wreaks havoc on the real world. I also loved the execution - chapters alternate between the production of the show, with details like how the editors will cut certain scenes to build the characters their contestants are meant to represent, and Zoo's present chapters as she fights to win.
Of course the game is over but Zoo has to use all of the skills she's learned to survive day to day. We see exactly how the initial misunderstanding occurs and how Zoo convinces herself everything that happens to her is still part of the show. All of it meant to bring in ratings and viewers. All of it spiraling further and further beyond what you'd imagine you yourself would believe in her position. And yet, it's understandable that a person would rationalize the things Zoo sees. How else could she - or anyone - stay sane?
I adored this book. It hit all the right notes for me - it was suspenseful and dark but also had a bit of humor to it as well (I know a little about what goes on behind the scenes of reality tv already, but seeing it in a book is that much more amusing and snarky). And of course it's basically an apocalypse tale, which we all know is right up my alley!
The Last One is going down as a favorite of mine for 2016. I highly recommend to anyone in search of a quick and tense read that's also got a fair bit of emotional depth. Fair warning, it's also pretty dark!