This review is written with thanks to Penguin UK - Michael Joseph and Netgalley for my copy of The Last One.
The Last One is the story of a new reality television show and its contestants. We meet Zoo as she begins the process, looking for one final adventure before she settles down with her husband to start a family. Throughout the television show she and the other contestants will be pushed to their limits by a series of physical and mental challenges. At any time, the contestants can end their participation in the show by saying the words "Ad tenebras dedi." The last one standing will win, but how far are they prepared to go?
The chapters in The Last One alternate between two narratives: the first person narrative in which the reader sees Zoo's perspective of an individual challenge, and the third person narrative, giving an overview of the whole show. The first person chapters focus on the final challenge, whereas the third person chapters start at the beginning, and the story meets as the novel reaches its conclusion. At times, particularly at the beginning of the novel, this was hard to follow, and as a result I found it difficult to get into. However, the sections in first person give the reader insight into Zoo's character, and as the novel progressed, this helped me to sympathise with her during the challenging tasks.
Reality television is a central part of popular culture in modern society, and in The Last One, Oliva is able to explore the concept of reality television and address the issues it presents in an innovative way. Through the character of Zoo, she is able to express her cynicism for the reality television process in a way which will resonate with the reader. However, as the novel reaches its conclusion, and Zoo's reality becomes blurred, I found this to be slightly over-exaggerated, and as such found it difficult to follow. This meant that whilst Oliva makes some valid points about this aspect of popular culture, her message is sometimes lost towards the end, and this makes The Last One somewhat anti-climactic.
The Last One is available from Amazon.