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One Perfect Couple

Recap, Summary & Spoilers



The Quick Recap and Chapter-by-Chapter Summary for One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware are below.

Ending & Explanations

See the Ending & Explanations for One Perfect Couple

Quick(-ish) Recap

Two-paragraph version: Layla and Nico are one of five couples selected to participate in an elimination-style reality TV show filming at a luxury resort on a deserted island off the coast of Indonesia. Nico quickly gets eliminated. That night, a severe storm blows through, leaving the island's infrastructure destroyed and two dead. When it becomes clear help may not be coming, Connor, one of the remaining eight survivors on the island, takes control of rationing the group's supplies. He kills two of the others, Bayer and Dan, when they disagrees with him. One person disappears.

Connor's distribution of supplies is unequal, and he abuses his girlfriend, Zana, into submission. The remaining three women concoct a plan to kill Connor by overdosing him with insulin. When the plan goes awry, Zana attacks Connor and drowns him. The four women then recharge a radio battery to make outside contact and ask for help. They're rescued and falsify the truth of what happened on the island to prevent Zana from being accused of murdering Connor.


In Part I, Layla, a post-doc virologist, and Nico, an aspiring actor, are offered a spot in a couples reality television show that Nico thinks it'll be good for his career. Layla reluctantly agrees, and they're soon flown to Jakarta, and from there they take a yacht to Ever After Island, just off the coast of Indonesia. Layla overhears that a storm is coming and hopes it'll clear. They'll be staying at a newly-built luxury resort along with the four other couples in the show's cast.

The premise of the show, One Perfect Couple, is that the couples will participate in challenges, and contestants will get eliminated. This means their partners to have to "recouple" with members of other couples until only one couple is left. Baz is the producer of the show while his assistant Camille does most of hands-on work. When Layla and Nico arrive, they meet the other couples - Romi and Joel, Bayer and Angel, Connor and Zana, and Dan and Santana. Each couple in the cast is assigned a villa to stay in, but the crew of the show returns to stay on the boat at night.

The first challenge of the show is to see how well the couples know each other by guessing your partner's responses to a questionnaire. Layla gets the highest score while Nico gets the lowest score. Nico is immediately eliminated, leaving Layla there by herself. As the winner, Layla get to stay at the special "water villa" for the night along with someone the producers choose her "perfect match" -- in this case, Joel.

After the first day of filming, Layla and others discuss how something seems off. The resort facilities aren't done being constructed and the crew of the show is oddly small. There's also a lack of the support team that most other similar shows have like an on staff psychologist or welfare crew or even on-site medical staff.

Meanwhile, the first part of the book is interspersed with snippets of an emergency radio transmission. Through those snippets, we know that there will be a storm and by the second day of filming they'll be marooned on the island, with some having sustained severe injuries. Mayday calls go unanswered. Soon, two are dead and there are injuries among the other seven. Then, the radio runs out of batteries.

In Part II, Layla and Joel stay at special "water villa" that first night. The villa is built out on a wooden platform out on top of the water, with a wooden walkway connecting it to the island. But a brutal storm arrives and destroys the walkway, leaving Layla and Joel stranded. In the morning, the storm has passed but much of the island's infrastructure is gone, and there are downed trees and debris everywhere. The yacht (which was supposed to sail to an island to drop Baz off and then return) is also nowhere to be seen. There is no electricity and no sign of a generator.

They swim back to the island, and quickly find that Joel's girlfriend Romi was crushed by a tree in her bed, and the sole staff member who was assigned to stay on the island appears to have been hit by a flying object and has bled out and died. Additionally, Santana was hit by some metal sheeting, and her leg has been torn open. Layla and Dan scramble to clean and bandage the wound. Bayer has a dislocated shoulder, which Connor helps to put back into place, though Bayer continues to be in pain and short with everyone.

Only three villas are intact. Connor rebuilds a walkway for the Ever After Villa (the "water villa") so it is accessible, and he and Zana stay there. Layla, Joel, Santana and Dan stay in one in-tact villa. And Bayer and Angel are offered the other one, Palm Tree Rest.

They bury the dead and attempt to place mayday calls that go unanswered. They take stock of what supplies they have. Two days after the storm, Connor suggests they need to start rationing supplies, since they don't know how long they will be there. When Bayer takes more than his ration of water, Connor and Bayer argue. They next day, Connor has moved all the food and water to his water villa for safekeeping. Bayer takes exception to this and their fight escalates, with Connor beating Bayer until he is dead.

Dan soon feels increasingly uncomfortable with Connor holding all their supplies hostage. Dan tries to engage in a discussion about it, but Connor becomes threatening when questioned. Joel takes Connor's side.

Soon, Dan's girlfriend Santana, a diabetic, finds that all her insulin is missing. Dan is enraged and believes Connor took it. He goes to confront Connor, but doesn't come back. Connor claims he hasn't seen Dan. Dan's body soon washes up onshore. Layla finds a vial of Santana's insulin in his hand which seems to indicate he'd found and confronted whoever had it before he died. Layla, Angel and Santana don't think Connor had the opportunity to take it, but they think Joel might've taken it on Connor's behalf so that Connor would have leverage to keep Dan in line.

Around this time, they stop seeing Joel around, and Connor demands that the women bring fresh coconuts in order to "earn" their water ration and to help increase their water supplies. Layla asks him to at least give them their water ration for that day. When Zana agrees with Layla, Connor hurts Zana as punishment for going against him.

Zana relents and joins the other women in finding coconuts. She's up in a tree when she spots a ship in the distance. The women run to start a bonfire and try to flag it down. Connor does not help, and instead he appears to be assessing the situation. The ship passes.

Meanwhile, the second section of the book is interspersed with diary entries written by Zana. Initially, they match up with the events going on. Once Bayer is killed and Dan's body is found, they no longer do so and instead present a much rosier version of events that don't implicate Connor.

In Part III, the women go to talk to Zana and see that she has a black eye. The other women discuss how Connor probably prefers them dead so that if they're rescued he doesn't get convicted of murdering Bayer. Angel tells them it's kill or be killed, so they need to kill Connor first.

They concoct a plan to kill Connor. They plan to use sleeping pills to put Connor to sleep by grinding it up and putting it in a coconut for him to drink. When he's out, they inject him with an overdose of Santana's remaining insulin. He awakes and tries to fight them, and they wrestle with him. But then Zana attacks him and drowns him. Angel and Layla manage to get a small charge to the radio battery.

They're able to contact a small boat, which calls for help. They're saved. Zana is worried about potentially being convicted of murdering Connor. So, they falsify a set of diary entries to account for all the deaths in a way where they didn't sound like they wanted Connor dead.

Once they are off the island, they figure out that Baz hated Connor because Connor dated his niece and she committed suicide after (Santana figures this out because she knew the niece from high school). Everyone cast on the show had a negative connection with Connor or help to bring out his true personality. The whole point of the show was for Connor to get his comeuppance and of course for must-see TV of watching a famous YouTuber melt down on television -- but of course it was at the expense of everyone else in the cast.

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Chapter-by-Chapter Summary


Prologue
Part I – The Calm
Part II – The Storm
Part III – The Reckoning

Prologue

The prologue starts with two people gasping for breath, trying to drown each other. It’s going to one of them or the other.

Part I – The Calm

Each chapter is preceded by a snippet of emergency radio calls trying to reach someone.

Chapter 1

Layla Santiago, 32, is trying to work when her boyfriend Nicholas Rice (stagename “Nico Reese”), 28, an aspiring actor and part-time barista, suggests that they sign up for a Love-Island-meets-Survivor-type couples reality television show. The elimination-style show will feature five couples on a deserted island for ten weeks. Nico’s agent, Ari, knows the producer of the show, Baz, and thinks it’ll be a good opportunity for Nico.

Layla reluctantly agrees.

Chapter 2

(Radio Snippet: Feb 15, Layla tries to reach someone.)

Layla is a post-doc virologist specializing in research about chikungunya (a mosquito-born disease), and she meets with her supervisor, Professor Bianchi. Her task is to try to reproduce the results from an experiment her predecessor, Tony, but she’s been unable to do so and instead disproved Tony’s research.

She asks about taking time off, and he seems fine with it as long as she writes up her results while she’s there. They’re waiting to hear from the grant committee in about ten weeks if there’ll be funding to renew her contract, so Professor Bianchi says they’ll hopefully have an answer by the time she comes back.

Layla and Nico have been together roughly three years after meeting at a horror-themed Valentine’s day party. When she gets home, Nice excitedly tells her that Baz wants to plan a meeting with them. He also says that the show is being filmed on a gorgeous exclusive boutique resort in the Indian Ocean.

He explains that if one of the people gets eliminated then their partner has to find someone else to partner up with. Layla balks a little at the recoupling idea, but he says that they don’t need to be hooking up, they’re just a couple for the purpose of performing the tasks. However, Nico says that they probably want drama so anyone boring will probably get cut.

After some pleading by Nico, Layla, again, reluctantly agrees to the meeting.

Chapter 3

(Radio Snippet: Feb 15, asking about a storm shelter. Asking for an emergency evacuation due to the storm.)

At the meeting with Baz and Ari, Baz mentions there’s potential prize money at stake, but he declines to specify the amount. He asks them about their politics and future plans. By the end of the conversation, he assures them they’ll be chosen for the show, One Perfect Couple. He seems pleased with Layla’s “girl-next-door” look. He instructs his assistant Camille, 25, to arrange flights and such.

Layla is unimpressed by Baz. She thinks that he’s like Ari, someone who talks a big game but never really comes through. It sounds like a good opportunity, but something about it feels off to her. Still, Layla reluctantly agrees to the show at Nico’s pleading. They make plans to buy some bikinis and get to the gym.

Chapter 4

(Radio Snippet: Feb 16, Joel makes a mayday call stating that several people have been injured in a storm. They’re stuck on an island and their yacht is gone.)

Soon, they’re scheduled to fly into Jakarta in to weeks. From there, they’ll take a yacht to the island. The time flies by, soon they’re in Jakarta and a driver is picking them up to take them to the boat, the Over Easy. The other couples are all present by the time they arrive. Just as they board, Camille is informed of a storm coming.

Their cabin on the yacht is small. Before they can get settled in, they’re called upstairs to a meeting. Camille introduces herself and says she’s been working for Baz for six months. She asks everyone else to do intros as well:

Bayer, 28, and Angelique/”Angel”. Angel is a willow-y French Pilates coach and influencer with silver-blond hair. Bayer is a big beefy fitness instructor that looks Italian or Turkish. They’ve been together for two years.

Romi Ellison, 31, and Joel Richards, 33. Romi is a bubbly blond beauty YouTuber. Joel is a teacher from south London who is skinny and serious and wears glasses.

Santana, 25, and Dan, 25. Santana is a curvy strawberry-blond socialite who is stunning. Dan is a surfer-dude, boy-band type swimsuit model.

Conor, 31, and Zana Robertson, 22. Most attractive couple among a group of already attractive people. Connor is tall, confident and lean with sharp cheeckbones. Zana is tiny, quiet, doe-eyed, skinny, petite and ethereal.

Nico and Layla go last, and Nice tells them that it’s their third anniversary this week on Feb 15. Afterwards, Camille asks everyone to hand over their phones, and she reminds them of their contract when a few people protest. Layla asks to keep her laptop to do work and promises not to connect to the internet, but is told no.

Chapter 5

(Radio Snippet: Feb 16, Joel makes a third mayday call, saying his girlfriend and others are seriously injured.)

When they’re alone, Layla comments to Nico that it seems like Connor and Baz spoke to each other like they knew each other. She thinks it’s strange. Nico chalks it up to them both being in the entertainment world.

There’s a listing of the contestants and Layla sees that she’s listed as a “doctor” though she clarifies to the others she’s a Ph.D. Joel is a college instructor, so the two of them chat about both being in academia. Joel thinks part of the reason the show is for couples is because they wanted to bring in “real” people like them who aren’t in entertainment or influencers. He says most reality TV shows are chock full of those types, and they want more everyday people. He also says he thinks they’re hoping people will enjoy watching couples get ripped apart.

Connor comes by to talk to them and mentions that he has 10 million subscribers on YouTube, but wants the legitimacy of mainstream media.

Chapter 6

(Radio Snippet: Feb 17, pleading for help.)

In the morning, Layla awakes to the sound of “LAND AHOY!”. She goes outside and runs into Dan. They chat and Dan mentions that Connor apparently dated Baz’s niece “or something”. Dan also admits that he has a boyfriend, Elijah, and the coupling with Santana is just for show since gay couples don’t work with this format. Santana is single.

Chapter 7

(Radio Snippet: Feb 22, someone with the French accent mentions that people are dying or dead.)

They disembark the Over Easy and step onto a pristine beach. Ever After Island lies ahead of them. A producer starts directing them, and filming their reactions to the beach. The couples then head over to the villas they’ve been assigned. Dan and Santana are assigned the Forest Retreat. Connor and Zana have Paradise Cove. Bayer and Angel are staying in Ocean Bluff. And finally, Nico and Layla are at Palm Tree Rest. There’s one villa without names attached, the Ever After Villa.

The producer explains that the crew will stay on the boat (apart from one staff member), and that there are cameras in the villas filming them. Camille drops in to check on them. She notes that they’re having a sound issue in the villas but it’ll be fixed by tomorrow. She tells them there’s a cabana out back that’ll serve as a communal area and where they’ll be serving brunch soon.

Nico is wowed by the place, but Layla worries about how new everything is. It sounds like not all the facilities are fully built, and she’s worried that if there’s any infrastructure issues, they’ll have to find out about it the hard way.

Chapter 8

(Radio Snippet: Feb 23, Layla reports that two are dead and she plus 6 others are marooned on an island. They have limited food and water and need medical assistance.)

Layla and Nico make their way to the cabana for brunch where everyone is gathered. Camille explains that there will be a celebrity presenter doing voiceovers for the show, but in actuality she’ll announce everything and they’ll dub it over with the presenter’s voice. With that, she announces the first challenge. The point is to see how well each couple knows each other. Each person will fill out a questionnaire about themselves which their partner will be quizzed on.

The women are sent to the Ever After Villa to fill out their sheets. The men stay at the cabana. As they walk over to the villa, Layla notes that she hasn’t seen any signs of the island’s infrastructural buildings like desalinization plant or electrical generator, but she assumes it must have these things.

At the villa, they’re served champagne. Layla talks to Zana, who tells her about her fear of open water – she imagines something will grab her. Layla then turns to her questionnaire as she answers questions about her star sign, childhood crush, etc. She gets to “biggest secret” and balks. She doesn’t want to admit the truth (that she doesn’t see herself still being with Nico in five years), so she writes something else.

When they’re done, it’s time for their one-person interviews, referred to as a “OTO” (acronym for “one-to-one” pronounced “otto”).

Chapter 9

The OTO room is a sound-proof booth. Layla is asked her answers and then asked to guess Nico’s answers. Layla’s plan is to intentionally get eliminated so she can go home by doing poorly on the challenges, but she just answers the questions this time around since she doesn’t really know how the scoring and this elimination thing works anyway.

Afterwards, they play some clips back for them, and Layla is surprised that Nico gets almost all the answers wrong. Layla ends up getting the highest score. Nico gets the lowest score. With that, Nico is eliminated.

Nico gets angry, he says there were questions he got right. He then gets mad at Layla for her answers, saying it was stuff he never could have guessed. The two get into an argument, and Layla knows that the producers must be loving it. Nico stalks off angrily.

Afterwards, it’s time for dinner, and Layla is asked to do an OTO about Nico’s departure. There’s also a reveal.

As the highest scorer, Layla gets to stay in the Ever After Villa for the night, but she’s also being paired up with Joel because they’ve decided that the two of them are the most compatible based on their answers to these questions. Camille then explains that this will be the case for every challenge. The high scorer gets the villa and the producers will pair them up with someone they think is their perfect match.

Romi gets angry about Joel spending the night with Layla. She brings up how Joel never forgave her for what happened with her and someone named “Dean“. Joel gets irritated when Dean’s name gets brought up. Romi continues protesting, until Baz shows up to shut her down. He tells her to get with the program or leave, then he tells the crew to get on the boat so they can review footage.

After the crew leave, Romi is still angry. She says that this production is being run poorly. She hasn’t seen any medical staff in case of emergencies, there’s no psychologist doing evaluations of the cast to make sure everyone is okay, etc. Romi says she’s done other reality TV shows, and they aren’t run like this. Dan agrees, he says that he had a friend who did Love Island and these shows are supposed to have welfare teams. He suspects that Baz is cutting corners. Dan also says the crew seems way too small for a show that Baz claims is supposed to be Real TV’s flagship show. Santana adds that it’s strange that the resort seemingly has no staff.

Layla then interjects and says that she’s not convinced they’ve actually sold the show. Baz has been saying that Real TV bought the rights to this show, but Layla says there hasn’t been any evidence that Real TV is associated with this show at all. She thinks he’s lying to them and it’s why it’s such a budget production. It also explains why they don’t have a real presenter here yet. They’re hoping to sell the show later and then hire someone to do the voiceovers.

Santana has diabetes and needs to monitor her glucose. She says she needs to eat, so she suggests they all go look for a kitchen. Layla thinks about how she’s here alone now, and tomorrow would have been their anniversary.

(Radio Snippet: Feb 24, they try calling again, but the radio runs out of batteries and goes dead.)

Part II – The Storm

Part II is interspersed with a diary kept by Zana. In the beginning the entries are consistent with what is actually happening, but at one point they start to diverge with reality.

Chapter 10

(Zana’s Diary on February 26: After two weeks of being marooned, water is running low and they are losing hope.)

By night time, dark clouds can be seen covering the island and winds are picking up. Layla and Joel are in the Ever After Villa, as instructed. By now, the boat along with Baz and the crew is on its way to another island to drop off Baz so he can fly out of here. The boat and crew should be back tomorrow morning in time for another day of filming.

Layla and Joel chat about their similar answers to the questionnaire. They each admit that they don’t have much in common with their partners. Soon, they’re both drifting off to sleep when a large wave crashes upon the island, slapping up against the walls of the villa. Layla awakes to the sound of the crashing wave and sees water seep in. She tries to turn on a light, but it doesn’t work.

Layla attempts to wake Joel, saying that the power’s out and she’s concerned about the storm, but he stays sleeping. Outside, it’s windy and raining and the waves are raging. Layla walks to an area of huts to see if any of the structures contain anything useful. As she does, she’s hit by a flying branch. Only the last hut contains anything useful – an emergency radio. She tries to call out a message, but there’s no response. She worries that the line is unmonitored. While she’s in there, something forcefully strikes the small hut.

Layla thinks that Palm Tree Rest, her original villa, is in a safer location that’s more inland, and she thinks she’ll get Joel and go there instead. Before leaving, she tries to call out one last message requesting an evacuation, but before she can finish, an object smashes the window of the hut causing shards of glass to go flying. Cut up and bruised, Layla drops the receiver and runs out.

Chapter 11

Layla manages to get back to the villa in one piece and urgently wakes Joel. She tells him they need to get out of this villa and off the island. She also tells him that the radio isn’t working.

The Ever After villa is located on a jetty that is connected to the main island by a gangway. They exit the villa, but by now the gangway is flooded, and they attempt to battle the waves in order to try to get back across, but the waves rip up part of the gangway. They have no choice but to go back inside, bolt the doors and hope for the best.

Chapter 12

Joel wakes Layla a few hours later, and she sees that the storm has passed and it’s the morning. Looking out at the island, there is debris everywhere, downed trees and the furniture is strewn all over the place. Joel is determined to swim back over to the main island to check on Romi, though the waters are still choppy. Joel tells her the best way to swim safely across, and manages the swim. She does as she’s told, swimming under the waves as opposed to trying to fight them. Before long, she’s safely on shore.

They quickly come across Dan, who is covered in dried blood. He’s uninjured, but he says Santana attempt to go out in the storm to find help and was hit by what he thinks was some metal sheeting. She’s severely injured.

Then, in a clearing, Layla sees Joel and Romi’s villa — which has been completely obliterated by a fallen palm tree. Joel cries out in horror. He finds Romi’s lifeless body, crushed between the tree and the bed and covered in debris. Dan and Layla leave Joel to grieve while they hurry to return to help Santana.


When they get to the hut, Layla sees that Santana’s leg has been ripped open with a six inch gash. Dan managed to staunch most of the bleeding but there’s rust and dirt on her wound and still some seeping blood. Layla knows they need to get it clean an infection could kill her. Layla goes looking for clean water and clean bandages.

Layla returns to the clearing of huts, of which only one is still standing. The radio hut is in bad shape, but more intact than the others. She tries again to call for help, unsuccessfully, before leaving the hut. She heads to the kitchen instead and manages to find a paper towel roll, a bottle of water, oreos and duct tape.

As she leaves, she hears the buzzing of flies that leads her to the discovery of another body. It was one of the producers, the sole member of the staff that stayed on the island, and she was clearly dead. Something had hit her head and she had fallen and bled out, that much was clear. Layla wonders when this happened. Was she already here when Layla was here last night?


Layla rushes back to Santana, who does not look well. She gives Santana the oreos and then takes a outer plastic of a ballpoint pen to funnel the bottled water through to clean the wound. She then wraps the cleaned wound with the roll of paper towels and secures it with duct tape.

Chapter 13

(Zana’s Diary on February 15: She talks about the storm, the two deaths, and Baylor’s dislocated shoulder which Conner re-located. There’s eight of them alive on the island.)

They convince Joel to leave Romi’s side and find the others huddled together at the Cabana. Connor helps to put Bayer’s dislocated shoulder back in place. Layla offers to grab some painkillers from her villa, Palm Tree Rest, that came out of the storm basically unscathed. She also mentions how the boat was supposed to return this morning, but it looks like it must’ve been derailed by the storm.

She also brings up that they should dig graves for the bodies of the deceased.

Chapter 14

They make a makeshift dinner and Connor suggests it’s time to bury the bodies. Santana wonders if the bodies should be left alone in case the police want to inspect them, but Conner thinks it’s unsafe and not right just to leave them lying out. Bayer is still in pain because of his shoulder and he is short with everyone and on edge.

They try to give them as much dignity as they can as they lower the bodies into the graves and fill them. They say a few words and shed a few tears.

Chapter 15

The next day, Connor suggests getting organized since they don’t know how long they might be here. They need to figure out the food and water situation, etc. Layla mentions the radio.

Taking stock of the situation, they have a few hundred liters of water, though they were going through it quickly, as well as plenty of toilet paper. All the perishable food was ruined due to the heat and lack of electricity. Instead, they have some chips, pretzels, and packaged goods for food. They’re also able to fish. To prevent the animals from getting at it, they start consolidating all the food in the cabana.

They find something that looks like the remains of the desalination plant, but it’s not in good shape.

When tempers start to run high due to the heat, fear and exhaustion, they take a break to fiddle with the radio. Layla explains that she’s tried using it, but she has no idea what channel she should be using or if it’s even monitored at all. She also points out that it’s battery powered so they don’t have unlimited range to test it out. Joel is tasked with trying to send out some messages and see if he hears anything on any of the channels.

Chapter 16

(Zana’s Diary on February 17: The group decides on one liter of water per day per person, but that’s still only a 25-day supply, and the heat makes surviving on one liter a day very difficult.)

The next day, there’s still no sign of a boat. Layla and Conner chat, and they wonder if anyone knows they’re stranded here and if anyone is trying to get to them.

Today, Connor talks to the group about rationing water. He explains the math and why they have to limit water to one liter per person per day, thought it’s barely enough to survive. People are upset.

They wonder about the boat, but they discuss how if the boat were going to come back it would have already. It’s hard to guess what happened to it, but they’re better off assuming it’s not returning.

Chapter 17

(Zana’s Diary on February 21: A week after the storm, Zana and Connor are staying in the water villa, since there were only three villas left standing. Before then, they’d been staying at Palm Tree Rest with Bayer and Angel but gave it up so they could have some space.)

A few days later, Connor starts rebuilding the jetty leading to the water villa (Ever After Villa). Zana agrees to staying there despite her fear of open water. Meanwhile, Dan and Layla managed to find some bananas and coconuts. They start distributing coconut water.

When Bayer rejects his coconut water, he goes and takes a big gulp from the big water bottle, which is not part of his rations. Connor threatens to take him out if his behavior continues, but Bayer doesn’t back down. Angel tries to talk Bayer down instead, and the two leave.

As he does, Layla thinks about a conversation she’d had previously and how someone had said that every show needs a villain.

Chapter 18

In the morning, Layla awakes to a very alarmed Angel who says that all the food and water are missing. Connor comes back and tells them not to worry. He moved it. He said he moved it to prevent rats and Bayer from getting to it. Bayer is furious when he finds out. He demands the food back. When Connor refuses, Bayer attacks him. The two wrestle and Connor beats Bayer until he’s no longer responsive.

Layla checks on Bayer and sees that he’s not breathing. She tells Angel that Bayer’s dead.

Later that day at dinner, Joel has caught and cooked an octopus. Connor stops Angel when she takes the largest portion of food. He tells her she didn’t contribute anything today so she shouldn’t get first pick. Other point out that her boyfriend is dead, but Connor says that’s why she’s getting any food at all. He refuses to back down until Zana stops him. Angel slams her food down and leaves.

Chapter 19

(In an undated entry, Zana describes how Bayer is dead from an accident. It says that Bayer has been feeling unwell and they encouraged him to have extra water, but he declined. Instead he got dizzy going up some stairs and hit his head when he fell. It says that Connor was distraught because they were such close friends.)

They’re all dehydrated and getting annoyed at how controlling Connor is. Layla thinks Zana seems scared of Connor and that her personality only really comes out when he’s not around. Dan says that Connor’s content on YouTube is a little problematic and that he’s one of those “hey I’m just asking questions” people when it comes to racism or sexism. Joel defends Connor’s content a little, saying that his guests are controversial, but that’s not the same as him saying it.

Joel is fine with the situation, but the rest of the disagree. They think Connor should give everyone each their share and each person can decide for themselves how they want to use it. Dan says this can’t go on because he doesn’t trust Connor. They should decide as a group what to do, not have Connor decide for them.

Chapter 20

The next day at breakfast, Dan broaches the topic with Connor, as promised. Connor responds poorly, saying that he’s not going to budge. When Layla asks him to explain his reasoning, Connor says that if someone uses up all their rations, everyone else is not going to just watch them die. Instead, they’ll end up giving them some, or that person is going to steal or take other people’s rations. When Dan insists on dividing stuff up, Connor makes it clear he’s willing to defend his position by force. Nothing gets resolved, and Layla feels despondent.

Chapter 21

(In an undated entry, Zana describes how caring Connor has been and how unreasonable Dan was when he created a conflict over wanting more water. She writes about how everyone else is thirsty too.)

Angel says she thinks Connor is a psychopath or sociopath. Later, Zana talks to Santana about Connor. Santana says she knows one of Connors exes, Cally, who was a year below her in school. He dated this girl when he was 24 and the girl was 17. Santana says in retrospect that’s kind of creepy. Cally committed suicide when she was 19, two days after he left her. Santana suspects he has a pattern of preying on emotionally fragile younger women.

Layla sees Joel and Connor in a deep discussion, and she finds it unsettling that Joel is so friendly with Connor, a murderer and a bully. Meanwhile, Angel moves into Santana’s villa with Layla and Dan in order to avoid being alone. They suggest that Zana could move into Palm Tree Rest instead of being at the water villa, since she’s so fearful of the water, but they know Connor wouldn’t allow it.

Santana reaches out and takes Zana’s wrist to say that Connor can’t make her do anything, but Zana jerks her wrist back, and they all see the bruise on her wrist. Angel looks particularly upset. Layla takes it as confirmation that he’s abusing her.


They don’t see Dan until late, and he is worked up over Joel not backing him up earlier today. He’s frustrated that he feels Joel has taken Connor’s side. Santana pleads with Dan not to pick a fight with Joel. Layla tells him they just need to hold on a little longer, since someone must have to come service the buildings or something even if something happened to the crew of the show.

Then, Santana notices that her insulin is missing. Dan is instantly worked up again, and he’s sure that Connor is responsible. He is determined to go confront Connor despite Santana beginning him not to, and he stalks off angrily.

Layla decides to go find Dan to try to calm down the situation, but he’s not at the water villa. Instead Connor says he hasn’t seen Dan.

Chapter 22

When she gets back, Santana says Dan hasn’t returned. They go to sleep thinking Dan will be there when they wake up. In the morning, Dan still hasn’t returned. Santana also doesn’t have any insulin.

They start talking about whether Connor could have taken the insulin. Angel has been keeping an eye on Connor and she doesn’t think he came into the villa. Moreover, they’re all not convinced Connor even knew where it was. However, Joel has been staying with them and he would know. He’s also been getting closer to Connor.

Chapter 23

(In an undated entry, Zana describes relieved everyone is that Dan has reappeared.)

The rest of the day is spent looking for Dan, who is worryingly nowhere to be found. By now, the battery is dead on the radio as well. Then, suddenly, Connor calls out to them. Washed up on the beach is Dan’s body. Layla finds something in his hand, which she slips into her pocket without telling the others.

Chapter 24

They all sleep poorly that night. Santana cries. Layla thinks about the vial of insulin she found in Dan’s lifeless hand. She asks Joel about it, which seems to make him uncomfortable.

In the morning, Layla thinks about how she needs to make more clear headed assessments of everything that’s gone on here if she’s going to survive.

Chapter 25

(In an undated entry, Zana describes how they were all playing near the beach, Dan swam out too far and drowned.)

Down at the beach when they’re alone, Layla tells Santana and Angel about the vial of insulin she found on Dan. She also says she really thinks it was Joel and that she asked him about it. Layla thinks that Joel took it to maybe ingratiate himself to Connor or for Connor to have something over Dan in case he got out of hand.

She explains how Dan must’ve died with it in his hand since he had rigor mortis. So, she thinks that Dan did go see Connor that night and was killed.

When Connor shows up, he tells then that they’ve all been here around ten days, and he thinks they may be running low on water soon. In order to extend their liquid supplies, he wants everyone to contribute two fresh coconuts daily or else they can’t have their water ration. He acknowledges that this may mean climbing trees to get them. Meanwhile, he won’t participate. Instead, he’ll be fishing for food. He refuses to give them their water for today until they bring the coconuts.

Layla demands the water now, and says they can go work on it, but Connor refuses. Zana backs Layla up, but Connor hurts to punish her for agreeing with Layla. When Connor leaves, the women all tell Zana that Connor is abusive and that she needs to get out of the relationship, but she insists he’s not really like that.

They haven’t seen Joel yet, but the four women trudge into the forest to get coconuts.

Chapter 26

The women initially attempt to knock the coconuts down or shake them down, but it doesn’t work. Instead, Zana finally decides to attempt to climb a tree. She uses a twisted t-shirt as a rope to hoist herself up the tree. They warn her she could break a leg if she falls.

Zana slips when a branch cracks, but she manages to retain her grip. She gets back up and starts pulling off coconuts as the other women cheers. However, when she goes for the last one, she suddenly starts quickly sliding down the trunk. She manages to stop safely though and yells that she saw a ship. Quickly, the women run for the beacon in hopes of flagging it down.

They quickly make a bonfire in hopes that the ship will see them, but eventually the ship slips off into the distance. They notice that Connor sees them but doesn’t try to help in any way.

Part III

Chapter 27

Santana curses with disappointment afterwards. Layla tries to comfort her, saying it’s a good sign that there’s a ship since it may be an indication that maybe this is a shipping route or perhaps they have some indication of when to be on the lookout for ships. But Santana knows that she only has a few days to live if she doesn’t find out who took her insulin.

Afterwards, they talk about how Conner didn’t seem excited at all by the presence of the ship. It was almost like he didn’t want the ship to see them. Layla says it’s not a stretch to think that he’d be worried about being convicted of murder if they’re found. She thinks that he wants himself and Zana to make it, but probably not the rest of them.

Angel then says the unspoken — that they need to kill Connor before he kills them. Layla balks in response, but Angel says that she’s been in an abusive relationship before and she understands men like him. It’s kill or be killed, and he already killed Bayer.

Layla thinks he would be careful about where to kill them. There’s cameras everywhere that are battery operated, none of them know how long they were or will be operational. There could be footage stored somewhere. Or Connor could destroy the cameras. Bayer was killed on the front steps of the cabana where there’s no coverage, so Connor probably got lucky but would be more careful trying to kill anyone else.

Layla continues to insist that she has no intention of killing anyone, but she thinks about how Conner looked more calculating than relieved when he saw the boats, and she has difficulty sleeping that night.

Chapter 28

They realize they haven’t seen Zana, so they go out to the water villa to find her. However, Connor doesn’t want to let them in. He blocks the path to the villa, so Layla tries to swim around, but he goes in after her. Finally, he orders Zana to come out because the other women are insistent on seeing her. When she does, they see that Zana has a black eye. Connor claims she slipped.

When they leave, Santana tells the others that she only has two days worth of insulin left. She knows Connor would be happy to let her die. They talk about how Connor doesn’t look as dehydrated as the rest of them, and they suspect he isn’t sticking to the same rations. They consider poisoning him or giving him sleeping pills. The best option they think is to kill him with an insulin overdose, but Santana knows that if she uses her insulin to kill him and can’t locate the rest, she may die very soon after that.

Layla still feels hesitant, but both the other women are sure that Conner needs to be killed and she reluctantly agrees to their plan.

Chapter 29

As they try to find coconuts, they discuss their plan. The idea is that they will find a way to give both Zana and him sleeping pills by grinding it up and putting it in coconuts. Then, when he’s out to inject him with the insulin. Layla also mentions that she thinks the camera in Connor’s room has been taken down.

Chapter 30

They give Connor his coconut and one intended for Zana. Just looking at him it’s clear how much less dehydrated he is than them. They toast to “cooperation” because they want to watch him drink it.

Shortly after, Angel is slumped over asleep, and they aren’t sure what happened and whose coconut she ended up with. They won’t know until they go over there and find out who is awake.

Chapter 31

When they get there, it’s late, and it appears both Zana and Connor are asleep. When Santana stabs him with the syringe, he immediately awakes and grabs Santana and smashes her head against the floor.

Layla lunges at his throat, but he grabs her and strangles her — they’re standing hear the doorway. She tries to crawl away out of the villa, but he grabs her.

Layla sees someone holding a water bottle swing it like a weapon towards them — it’s Zana.

Chapter 32

Zana lets the bottle crack over Connor’s head. Then, she does it again at his stomach. Connor falls into the water. Zana jumps in after him and tries to keep him underwater to drown him.

Layla feels weak, but she knows she needs to help Zana, so she jumps in as well. The problem is, she sees that they’re getting too far out and could get pulled out to sea. Conner doesn’t seem to be fighting back. She yells to Zana that she’s too far out, and she instructs Zana on how not to fight to riptide.

They start swimming back, and she sees that Zana is a strong swimmer. Layla feels her legs giving out.

Chapter 33

Layla wakes up on the beach. Zana tells her that she swam back to save her. Santana is alive and with Angel, but in very bad shape. They’re relieved to all be alive, but now they need a plan to get off the island.

They talk about whether there’s a way to re-charge the battery for the radio. Angel says she used to help with her father at the repair shop he owned and knows some about car batteries and how to charge them.

(The book mentions in this chapter that Angel at some points finds Joel hanging from a palm tree with a bed sheet tied around his throat — it sounds like he kills himself.)

Chapter 34

That night, Santana, Layla and Zana are up at the Forest Retreat villa while Angel works on gathering stuff to recharge the radio battery. The next morning, Zana and Santana are still sleeping. Santana is still not doing well. Layla helps Angel with the battery. It’s a difficult process without proper tools and their hands have been splashed by acid and cut by metal in the process, but eventually they make enough progress so that Angel can work on recharging the battery.

When Layla returns, she and Zana think that Santana must be low on glucose. Zana admits that Connor took her glucose pills. Layla offers to go get them, but Zana insists on doing it herself.

Soon, Angel comes back into the villa and says she managed to get a signal to a boat.

Chapter 35

Angel says the battery died out again, but someone is coming. The boat is nearby, but too small. However, they’re familiar with the island and are radioing for help. Zana returns with cookies and glucose pills for Santana, and they try to get her to eat. They force the pills and cookies down her throat.

Slowly she seems to regain focus. They tell her the good news.

Only Zana is worried. She’s murdered someone, and there are bodies all over the island. The other women say they’ll all say it was an accident, but Zana thinks they’ll figure it out based on the camera footage. Then, they suggest telling the authorities what a monster Connor was, but Zana say it’ll only make them more convinced she would want him dead.

Finally, Layla says that they should concoct a story so that it doesn’t sound like they have a motive to kill Connor. They have to create a record of their time here that accounts for the deaths and doesn’t create a motive for them. They tell Zana to start creating a fake diary.

(So, now we know that the diary entries were all faked on the last day to create a story to explain the deaths and make sure that Zana wouldn’t be wanted for murder.)

Chapter 36

(In a diary entry, Zana writes about how the winds were high and Santana was crossing the jetty when she slipped and hit her head. She falls in, taking Layla with her. Connor dives in to save them. He manages to get Santana out, but then he goes back for Layla. At first it seems like they’re both swimming back, but then Connor is gone. Layla makes it.)

The boat arrives.

Chapter 37

They are rescued and learn that the Over Easy was lost at sea. Someone from the British Embassy helps them to arrange passports and sets them up with individual hotel rooms, but the women ask to stay together. They are given a family room, instead. They spend the night talking about their lives.

Layla then mentions something she forgot about — someone had mentioned they’d gotten a dossier on the other contestants before coming out, but she didn’t get one. The other women all agree that they all got information on the contestants. There was another couple, Hunter and Lucy, that was supposed to come who Layla and Nico replaced.

Apparently, Hunter had a problem with one of the other contestants and pulled out. Santana knows this because Lucy is a friend of her cousin’s. Zana says that Connor knew Hunter.

Finally, Layla points out that everyone had some type of connection with Connor. Santana knew his ex girlfriend. Hunter knew Connor somehow. Romi had criticized his YouTube channel publicly and he sent his toxic followers after her. While Angel didn’t have a direct connection, she’d been in an abusive relationship before, and Bayer was the perfect personality to get Connor worked up and to get him to show his true personality.

In short, Layla thinks that “practically everyone on the island was hand-picked to either speak to Conor’s past or make him come clean about his present”. Layla thinks about her own meeting with Baz. He asked about if she was a feminist or not. Layla thinks he was hoping they would butt heads.

Then, something dawns on Santana. She remembers that Baz’s niece dated Connor. Baz’s full name is Basil Ferrier. The girl she knew, Cally, who killed herself was Calista Ferrier and she was Baz’s niece. The whole point of the show was for Baz to show the world the truth about who Connor really was. To see a famous YouTuber destroy his career on-screen would have been great retribution for Baz as well as a huge ratings sensation which would easily have sold to a network. It makes sense that the show was never sold.

Angel and Santana are upset though. They muse that this is just an extension of what all reality television does, putting volatile people into volatile situations. Essentially, Baz put them in a situation with a highly volatile person and let them deal with the fallout, which is how they ended up in this situation.

In that case, Zana says, the worst part is that they turned Baz into the hero because of the diary she wrote saying he was a saint who saved all their lives. But the women tell her it doesn’t matter. Screw their legacies, the point is for them to survive and live their lives.

The four women toast to survival.

Chapter 38

Layla gets a replacement SIM card for her phone shortly after returning from Jakarta. There’s an onslaught of texts from people who have heard about her disappearance. She has a string of texts from Nico, likely from when he got his phone back after being kicked off the show.

He apologizes for being upset with her and tells her how amazing she is.

Soon she gets a text from Santana asking if she’s going to be okay, and she replies yes.

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