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.
Although I used to love dystopians, the genre has been waning out a bit. I can't hold interest in them like I used to, because more and more of it is becoming too similar. The Only Boy was a unique and refreshing take on this genre, one that I enjoyed immensely.
Mary lives in a compound with only women, as all the men were wiped out generations ago. They are ruled by the Matriarch, with her dictator-like reign and insane rules. Until the day Taylor arrives.
Taylor is a boy. After his section was bombed, leaving him the only survivor, he comes to Section One, pretending to be a girl. His ability to pass as a girl is the only thing that will keep alive. Men are so feared, that all mention of them are cut or blacked out from books. No one is allowed to touch, for fear of spreading the disease. A disease that no one knows where it came from, or how to stop it.
This was an unusual concept, but one that Locke managed to execute quite well. The gender roles posed some interesting questions, and the questions it brought up on child-rearing and humanity in general will make you think, adding depth to the story.
Were Taylor and Mary a case of Insta-love? Yes, definitely. It could be argued that Mary only really "loved" Taylor because, well let's face it, he's the only boy she's ever seen. There were some parts when their feelings for each other didn't make sense, and led to some irrational decisions. But they are teenagers, and it wasn't unbelievable for how teenagers act (because teenagers are, in essence, irrational human beings).
But they also were strong characters in their own right. Although this may have pushed the limit for how many times you can "kill" a character, even when they thought they lost each other, they decided to keep going, do what they knew was right to make it a better place for their people.
This was a fast-paced novel, with short chapters and enough description to understand but not overwhelm. Although this isn't something that always works, it worked very well for this case.
So if you're looking for a different and refreshing take on dystopian, then I would definitely recommend this book. It was a unique perspective, that was executed quite well. If you're looking for a different kind of read, this is the one for you.
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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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