Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I feel so ambivalent about this one. Here’s the thing: I love watching reality TV. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. But this book made me realize that I don’t love reading it.
The plot is pretty interesting, don’t get me wrong. It’s about a group of 12 strangers who sign up for a survival show that promises to test their limits. The story focuses on one of the contestants, a woman named Zoo, who wants one last adventure before starting a family with her beloved husband. Shortly into filming, strange things happening, and the line between reality and reality TV becomes blurred. Is all this destruction that Zoo has stumbled upon just part of the game, or did some sort of post-apocalyptic event occur unbeknownst to her?
The story switches back and forth between the first few weeks of filming the reality TV show and Zoo’s solo struggle for survival once the cameramen and her fellow contestants have mysteriously disappeared. While I really enjoyed reading about the latter, the former grew redundant very quickly, to the point where I was skimming through pages of boring reality TV survivor games to get back to the good stuff.
Oliva is a good writer, and that’s what ultimately kicked this up from a 2.5-star read to a 3-star read for me. Zoo is an interesting, well-developed character, and Oliva successfully captures the emotional plight she endures throughout the story. The themes she presents are also interesting: she explores the fine line between perception and reality, and the powerful influence that the media can have on both. While I didn’t love this one personally, I can see it appealing to readers who enjoy post-apocalypse and survival stories.