Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

I have a confession to make.

I love reality shows. Over the years, my interest in some have come and gone, but I still watch quite a few of them. I even own The Mole on DVD.

And I love shows and books about fictional reality shows. I'm still upset that Siberia got canceled after only one season. I loved that show so much that my tweet professing my love for it got used in an official ad campaign.

So when I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I absolutely could not wait. And this book, unlike the network's decision to cancel Siberia, did not disappoint.

In The Last One, Oliva has created a fictional reality show, and readers immediately know from the first pages that something goes horribly wrong. Whether it is with the show, or the world, or even what that mysterious something is, we have no idea. But we do know this is not a show, or book, that will run a typical course.

As a reality show fan, I loved all the little details Oliva put in-from the way the editors and producers manipulate situations and footage to fit their decided narrative, to the nicknames the contestants are given, to the challenges themselves. Oliva's protagonist fully believes that all the insanity that is happening around her has been produced by the show, and having been allowed that inside look at the behind the scenes machinations, readers can understand why--and even wonder along with her. What is real? What is manufactured?

Oliva's decision to alternate chapters between her protagonist "Zoo"'s current situation, and the filming of the show, peaks and keeps readers' interest, creating almost unbearable tension at times. The reality show lover in me could not get enough of the Challenges and Confessionals, and the thriller lover in me was metaphorically biting my fingernails in suspense at what was happening to Zoo in the present.

Read this book. I wouldn't be surprised if it made some Top Books of 2016 lists. I would certainly put it in mine.

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