Tag Archives: suspense

Coming soon! Unusual post-apocalytpic with spiritual questions, The Last One

Soon to be released post apocalyptic literary novel The Last One.

I’ve been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction lately. A LOT. So much so that I wrote an article called “Name that Apocalypse.” So elements of the plots are starting to sound sort of familiar.

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (to be released July 12*) has a bit of a twist. The main character is a young woman named Sam. Or Zoo. Or Mae. Yeah, there are a lot of characters in this book and they all seem to go by multiple names. Sam is a contestant in a reality show competition which is sort of a cross between Survivor and The Amazing Race. They’ve been warned that it could get pretty intense and that they will find themselves alone for long stretches of time—and the show has also been playing with the contestants’ heads. (One example: contestants aren’t sure whether an injured young man they come across is dying or faking it.  Turns out he’s faking it.)

The main twist to The Last One is that when the apocalyptic event in this story occurs, Sam is alone, expecting weirdness and fakery, expecting things to get rough. So when they do, she thinks it’s part of the game.  As she wanders the landscape, following the route of the race/game, she sees increasing signs of death and devastation, but she has seen what the show’s producers and their huge budget can do to mimic devastation. She begins to wonder what is real and what isn’t…but how can she be sure? And who should she trust, when anyone could be an actor planted by the show?

As readers, we know that there has indeed been a cataclysmic epidemic of some kind, but we don’t know how bad it is, either. Is Sam truly The Last One on earth? Or at least the second last, since she ends up with a traveling companion, a boy that she thinks is also a plant from the show.

The premise and the storyline are intriguing, although the way the book is written made it hard for me to get into it. It switches back and forth between Sam’s first-person point of view in the present, as the catastrophe is unfolding, and scenes from a month or so before, showing how the TV show progressed up until this point. The scenes in the past are told from an omniscient narrator’s point of view who observes and reports everyone equally. At first, that kind of narration really distanced me from all the characters—plus, when the NOW you’re reading about is possibly the end of the world, do you really care about suddenly switching back to a long scene with lots of characters at the beginning of the competition trying to follow a compass and bickering and stubbing their toes?

However, after a while I had learned enough about the characters to care more, and to be intrigued how the super-epidemic was going to hit the show, and the relationships and enmities forming among all the contestants, to the point that I was really turning the pages.

Ultimately, the book left me feeling sad. Not the way a lot of post-apocalyptic books do, because the world is left doomed. This one actually has a fairly hopeful ending as far as the world goes. But as a Christian reader, the book depressed me for a couple of reasons.

One, the only real bad guy in the book was—you guessed it, I’ll bet!—the one who is identified as a Christian. Or someone’s cartoon idea of a Christian. He talks constantly about demons and exorcisms and is pretty much a psycho.

This would be more tolerable if there were good people of true faith in the story, but here is an early quote from the main character—the one we’re supposed to identify with: “Watching a cartoon of Adam and Eve falling for the ridiculous whisperings of a snake and then being thrown out of their home by God was one thing. Acknowledging this cartoon not as fantasy but as an accurate representation of history was another. Even as a ten-year-old, I was repulsed. When I was introduced to the ideas of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel in school several years later, I experienced the closest thing I’ve ever known to a spiritual revelation. I recognized truth.”

The main premise of this story is that people need to be able to tell the truth from fiction—because your mind can lead you into deception. And following fictions can kill you. At the end of the story, as Sam thinks back on how she deceived herself for so long, not allowing herself to see the real danger and destruction around her, she thinks about a lost loved one, “Eventually the atoms that together make my skin, my bones, my marrow, my hair and guts and blood will mingle again with yours. I’ll be like you then, nonexistent and everywhere. We don’t need Heaven for this to be true. We don’t need God to be together again. But I wish for it…I wish I could believe that you were still you, more than atoms, watching from above. But I’m done with pretending, with lies and wishful thinking.”

However, without giving too much away, as it turns out, Sam IS still deceived and wrong about some earthly things at this point. So is the author trying to point out how sad and wrong she is about everything, including God and the universe? Has Sam really not progressed to knowledge and truth by the end of the book, but is she on that path?

Or is this a really sad ending, leaving poor Sam still wandering in a fog at the end of The Last One?

  • I was provided a copy of The Last One via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Heads Up for Christian Readers:

Note spiritual issues above. Also, there is some pretty rough language–not constant, but scattered throughout–including a couple of F bombs.

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Amy C. Blake’s new release in the On the Brink YA Suspense Series!

Amy Blake's new YA Christian suspense titled Colorblind

Just about this time last year, I read Amy C. Blake’s YA Christian suspense novel, Whitewashed, and told you all about it.

I’m excited today to share with you that she’s released the second book in this On the Brink series, called Colorblind.

I’ll let Amy tell you more about the series and about the new book. Here’s Amy:

The On the Brink series follows three homeschooled friends–Patience, Christy, and Natalie–as they step into adulthood. Since each book tells only one girl’s story, the books can be read in any order. You can buy Colorblind and Whitewashed in both e-book and paperback on Amazon. I hope you’ll pick up your copies today!

Here’s a little more about Colorblind:

Eighteen-year-old Christy Kane has always been Daddy’s princess. But on the first day of her music internship at his mega-church, reporters shatter her world with terrible news: Daddy’s had an affair with the church preschool director. Christy feels as betrayed by God as the man she’s always considered Prince Charming.

When Mom sends her to Buckeye Lake to help with Aunt Jo’s School of Music and Dance in the restored Pier Ballroom, Christy’s problems only increase. First, the ballroom sits on Buckeye Lake, making her face her greatest fear—water. Second, she must help lead a handful of semi-talented volunteers, who harbor racial tensions and mysterious underlying antagonisms, in a professional quality performance for the Grand Reopening of the ballroom. The stakes are high—Aunt Jo will lose the place if they fail. Third, Christy discovers a diary written by Lillian, who lived near Buckeye Lake in the 1920s, and becomes intrigued by the stories of thousands coming to play at the amusement parks and dance in the ballrooms. But her interest soon turns to concern as tragic events from the diary happen in Christy’s world, ninety years to the date of their first occurrence.

Between her shattered past, her uncertain future, and her dangerous present, Christy doesn’t know where to turn. Does Daddy’s God really exist? If so, does He care enough to rescue her?

Amy Blake, author of Whitewashed.
Amy Blake

About Amy:

Award-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. You can connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. She’d love for you to visit her website at amycblake.com for tips on homeschooling, advice for the rookie pastor’s wife, and helps for the Christian life. You can also find more information on her website about her novels–Whitewashed, Colorblind, and The Trojan Horse Traitor.

 

 

 

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