The Last One and Pokemon Go

The Last One

Imagine that you are a contestant on a hot new reality show, which takes place in the wilderness. You think it's called In the Woods, but the show is actually called In the Dark, because the producers have lied to you and the other contestants. (You had to sign a 96 page release form before filming began.) And then a couple of weeks into filming, while you are off on a solo task, making your way through the woods, an extremely virulent pathogen attacks, killing most of the people around you. But you think it's all part of the show and instead of being afraid or mourning the loss of your loved ones, you just get more and more angry at the sheer callousness of the show creators. How dare they make so many fake bodies and leave them in such horrific circumstances? The more angry you get the more determined you are to not quit, no matter what.

That is the premise of Alexandria Olivia's astonishing, brilliant, debut novel The Last One, which I have to confess I stayed up until 5:58 a.m. reading. I had to finish it before I went to sleep. Told non-linearly from two perspectives, that of a woman who is alternately called Zoo, Mae, and Sam, and that of the show's creators, it's a frightening and tense read.

I was pretty excited when I saw that I was eligible to get an advance review copy of the novel because I thought it looked intriguing and I was not disappointed. Anyone who is interested in how reality shows work behind the scenes should find this novel of interest, even if they aren’t interested in it as an adventure story. I imagine they would still get swept away by the story. It's hard to imagine this book leaving anyone cold or unaffected.

It's heartbreaking, which it should be. We readers would be kind of awful people if we didn't feel sad over a ton of people dying from a stupid illness. Of course one of the contestants is a rotten son of a barnacle, so maybe we can be forgiven if we don't cry if he or she should keel over after a few days of being miserably ill.

I had a couple of problems with the book, but nothing I couldn’t handle. There are some important plot points that seemed a little too contrived or perhaps improbable. We want everything to fit together and all the loose ends to be tied up, but sometimes it's a little too perfect.

I predict that The Last One will be a big seller, so you should get it now. (It just came out on the 12th.) That way you can tell everyone that you read it before they did. You don't want to pass up a chance to be smug, do you?

You can read an excerpt here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/530330/the-last-one-by-alexandra...

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Pokemon Go
The Pokemon Go app is so popular that Nintendo's stock has soared and the app is generating a million dollars in revenue per day. That's even more than Candy Crush was making at its peak. Everyone seems to be playing it, except for a grouchy few who are quite vocal about how awful it is. So far I haven't encountered a naysayer who has actually played it, so take these people with a giant grain of salt.

I am enjoying all the positivity around the game. I've heard from dozens of people who are going for long walks, some going three or five miles, and chatting with strangers they encounter who are also playing. It's mildly amusing to me that the same kinds of people who complain about the death of society because we don't interact face to face, and the fattening of society because we don't exercise enough, are the ones also complaining about what a drag the game is.

If you are happily playing pay attention to your local community. I've heard from libraries that are creating special events as well as retailers who are sponsoring sales and refreshments for those who come and play in their stores.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is an insane little story from Eugen Sandow's book Strength and How to Attain It. (He was one of the first performing strongmen.) It's about the time someone set up a fight for him in San Francisco. But he had no ordinary opponent. He fought a lion! https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP18990506.2.11