I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Only Boy by Jordan Locke
on December 17th 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Source: the author
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Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules—the Matriarch's senseless rules—prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out.
Taylor's got a dangerous secret: he's a boy. His compound's been destroyed, and he's been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he'll be exiled. Maybe even executed.
Mary's never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn't suspect Taylor's secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.
Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound's boundaries.
The first time I laid eyes on the cover, read the synopsis, I was intrigued. A world with only one man brings to mind the movie Omega Man, where only one healthy man is left alive after the apocalypse. In this case, there are only women left alive, some healthy while some still contract the disease that killed most of the population hundreds of years ago. Men are not wanted, nor needed. I was so curious to see how Taylor would survive in this world, because it’s obvious that he can only hide for so long.
I found Jordan’s writing style to be similar to Lois Lowry, without unnecessary flourishes or embellishments. It’s a simple style that suits the plot perfectly. The world building in the beginning is done slowly, without over explaining or dumping too much on the reader all at once. The first chapters begin by stating the rules in this future society, which gave me a chance to orient myself one chapter at a time.
The POV shifts back and forth between Mary and Taylor, often quite quickly. This did make it harder to get to know them, since their voice was constantly being cut off before it even really got started. What the dual POV did allow was to show their missed connections and drastic difference in perspective. Where Mary sees beauty and optimism, Taylor sees decay and darkness.
There were a couple things that got under my skin. One: Insta-love. I’m not a fan. Within five minutes of meeting, they feel a connection, even before Mary knows Taylor is a boy. What I didn’t expect was the direction that Jordan would take that romance. What seemed like such a perfect relationship under certain conditions, changed entirely when those conditions became more emotional and extreme. What started out as a pet peeve became one of my favorite aspects of the story. Two: Canned goods lasting hundreds of years. Ew. I can’t imagine that canned spaghetti Os would even remotely resemble food anymore after centuries on a shelf. If humans plan on surviving through an apocalypse, I would hope they have better plans than that.
Which brings me to the end of the story. I absolutely love that everything didn’t end off all Sunshine and Roses. It read more like a watered down Romeo & Juliet, complete with forbidden love and tragedy, than a perfect romance. This book is perfect for those of you who can’t stand an unrealistic Happily Ever After. The very last line in the book was my favorite. It wrapped up the whole story so perfectly, carrying so much weight in so few words. Overall, an Indie book to be thoroughly impressed with.