by Zack Hacker
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
When the specter of death comes to reality TV, who’s to blame?
After a reality television competitor dies during filming, it sends the cast reeling. Follow Jason Debord as he takes on the role of amateur detective to gain clarity into the death of a reality TV co-star and ends up uncovering criminal conspiracy.
When Jason returned home from competing on Beached, he’d lost weight, couldn’t sleep, and felt more alone than ever. But he expected those changes. Jason had no way to predict that one of his fellow competitors would fling himself from a cliff. Unless he didn’t. Jason can’t believe it, but the network presents coverage of the alleged suicide to the world.
Seeing motive in every crew member’s movements, Jason compiles evidence of conspiracy, only to be met with resistance from the cast and network alike. He persists only through the support of his developing relationship with Blake, a psychologist who observes alarming similarities between her patient and her partner. Events in Cut Reality have a variety of interpretations. Ultimately, Jason has to decide while under the watchful eye of the public: is his understanding too coincidental to be believed, or so shocking because it’s his new reality.
Zack Hacker’s debut novel will please fans of reality television and psychological thrillers alike. If you enjoy Survivor, Big Brother, The Amazing Race, MTV’s The Challenge, or other works of character-driven suspense, don’t miss this highly anticipated release.
Things out here are so crazy. Remembering that this is a game is nearly impossible. It took about two full days to appease everyone who was shocked by the Maddy vote. I wanted Desiree out, but this had to happen. Turns out I was wrong.
No one thinks of life outside the game, off this island. We’re all real people—and that’s what makes lying and backstabbing so difficult—it reminds us that there are lives to go back to, that there are real emotions and real people at play. None of us are the invulnerable game pieces that we strategize as in the abstract.
Maddy is sure to be actually, genuinely upset and mad at us. The cut Billy has on his foot is getting bad, which could easily get infected and affect his ability to work after the game. This game, this show, is simultaneously unimportant because it’s just a game, and important because these are our actual lives we’re playing with. Emotions, physical health, time.
Anyway, the producers and camera operators took an interest in us again. The interviews resumed, and we’re back to being
followed into the woods to take a piss. Riveting footage. They also cleared off their spot down by the beach. I figured their camp was there, but Billy and I went exploring (hoping to find any discarded food or personal items) and there’s no trace that there was ever anything built or set up there. Whatever they were doing, there wasn’t a set structure, and they’re no longer up to it.
I figure that maybe they just move around because they need a variety of camera angles and don’t want a totally un-filmable stretch of beach (production can’t be shown in the actual television show).
Billy’s suspicious of them. I told him to stay out of it—if he pisses them off, they can make our lives even more miserable.
He continues to harass them, asking them questions about what they’re up to, and why they randomly seem to disregard us for days at a time. I must say, he is right, they missed filming the strategizing and planning for the Maddy vote—no clue how they’ll cut the episode with no footage. It’s all Billy talks about now—”what are the camera guys up to,” “why are all the producers blocking off this section of forest,” “who are these new crew members who suddenly appeared.” They’re definitely up to something, but my opinion on the matter is Tennyson’s. Ours “is not to reason”; ours “is but to do and die.” Well, that might be dramatic.
We’re starving, sleep deprived, suffering injuries, stressed and living in fear of each other, but not dying. It only feels like it.
Zack Hacker was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he currently teaches English and Creative Writing. He is a graduate of Mount Saint Joseph University and received his M.A. in English from Case Western Reserve University. He lives with his wife and three cats, watches too much reality TV, and plans travel experiences. Cut Reality is his debut novel.