The Last One (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Alexandra Oliva

Ballantine Books, 9781101965085, 304pp.

Publication Date: July 12, 2016

List Price: 26.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of 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 their 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 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 be either 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.

Praise for The Last One

“[Alexandra] Oliva brilliantly scrutinizes the recorded (and heavily revised) narratives we believe, and the last one hundred pages will have the reader constantly guessing just what Zoo is capable of doing to find her way back home.”Washington Post

“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.”The Guardian

“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.”Seattle Times

“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.”Bookpage


About the Author

Alexandra Oliva was born and raised in upstate New York. She has a BA in history from Yale University and an MFA in creative writing from The New School. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. The Last One is her first novel.


Praise For The Last One: A Novel

Praise for The Last One
 
“[Alexandra] Oliva brilliantly scrutinizes the recorded (and heavily revised) narratives we believe, and the last one hundred pages will have the reader constantly guessing just what Zoo is capable of doing to find her way back home.”Washington Post
 
“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. . . . [She] also does an excellent job of portraying the psychological and emotional traumas that the contestants face. . . . For fans of Survivor and The Hunger Games, Oliva has melded the best of both worlds and added her own unusual twist.”Shelf Awareness
 
“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.”Seattle Times
 
“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.”The Guardian
 
“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.”Bookpage
 
“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.”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
 
“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.”Kirkus Reviews

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
 
“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

“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
 
“Like The Hunger Games, Alexandra Oliva’s novel is page-turning and deeply unsettling.”—Rosamund Lupton
 
“Tense and gorgeous and so damn clever . . . I loved every second.”—Lauren Beukes