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.
Praise for The Only Boy
“It’s not a dystopia that does a good job—it’s a great book that happens to be a dystopia.”
Rachel Miller, Editor
“This book is one of the best of its genre I have read, it kept me gripped to its satisfying end.”
Janet Love, Amazon UK Reviewer
“If you like a different take on the dystopian genre then I would highly recommend this unique and amazing book.”
Tamara Bass, The Avid Book Collector
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Way before dystopias became a genre, SF writers peopled worlds with only men or women. The concept still intrigues me, probably because I can no longer remember the plots of those old books. I do remember that too many of those writers took the low road, so I ended up putting some books down. I was relieved to find that The Only Boy kept me turning the pages for good reasons – a multilayered plot with relatable characters. Their realistic flaws led to bad decisions based on how they were raised, false assumptions, poor impulse control, phobias, or misguided loyalties. Even the dislikable characters kept my interest. The teen main characters, Taylor and Mary, were awkward at relationships and inclined to jump to conclusions. They did so at the worst possible moments. This kept the plot moving – literally from place to place, so I never found a good stopping point and read the whole book in one night.
The points of view switched more often than in most books, and I found it enjoyable to see the same scene through two pairs of eyes. As a visual learner, I also I liked the well-described scenes. I couldn’t picture a few, but they were minor parts of larger events. While gender and all the attendant problems with same-sex reproduction formed the story’s framework, politics trumped romance as the predominant theme. The repressive Matriarch and the bully Katherine were my favorite characters to dislike and feel sorry for in turns; it takes a good writer to do create empathy for the bad guys — or women – as the case may be. I can’t even name the best example of misguided patriotism without a spoiler. Let’s just say that the story came full circle and the author’s points hit home.
There were some good lessons for teens and adults, including the amount of hard work and pain it can take to uncover the truth. Some basic ideas were that touch is necessary for children to develop, and jumping to conclusions can hurt people. Thanks to the author’s skill with words, none of the lessons felt preachy, and the imperfect ending felt real. Bonuses for good editing and a full plot arc, both too rare these days.
I would have no qualms with a twelve-year-old reading The Only Boy. Sex is minimal. However, there is some violence, and vivid descriptions of the disease that wiped out most of the human race might disturb younger children. I like books that make me think and re-evaluate my ideas and priorities. The Only Boy did that, so I would like another book. 4 of 5 stars. I was provided a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Jordan Locke lives in Connecticut with his wife, two lively daughters and a well-behaved whippet. A graphic designer by trade, his creativity spilled over into the literary world. After years of writing, reading and learning the craft, his fifth novel, The Only Boy, brought him offers of representation from two well-known agents. Now, after the dog is fed and the kids are in bed, you will find him tapping away at the keyboard.
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Please check back for another review of The Only Boy later this week.
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