They were the only ones left. No, but before that. Before that it was just Martin, Dad, and the machine that hums. Occasionally tourists came by. Then they didn’t. Then Dad left. Finally Martin realizes, he might not come back. He leaves the island and realizes there’s a whole new world out there. Unfortunately, it’s empty. Empty, except for a city of kids that are each exceptionally good at one thing. They could build a paradise, destroy what’s left of humanity, or if the strange boy that talks to the animals is right, then the machine can bring everyone back.
This is not another dystopia! I know, I know. The world has seemingly ended and almost everyone has vanished, but it still isn’t an apocalyptic dystopia. It’s a FABLE. It uses the fantastic to look at issues that are very real: alienation, love, devotion, grief, obsession, humanity’s meaning, civilization’s role, etc. The best part is that it doesn’t ‘talk’ about issues, it uses that characters and plot to bring it out. The book is really a mystery above all. The plot just slowly goes forward, propelled by its unusual protagonist, Martin. Since Martin knows so little about the world, the fact that it’s all but gone isn’t that terrible to him and that makes this NOT the usual dystopia. Martin is kind of curious and aimless at the same time, so the plot seems to sort of zig-zag and putter along and you’ll often wonder, “What is this book even ABOUT!?” Exactly. That IS what the book is about. Figuring out what the book is about. If that seems like a snake eating its own tale…good! This book is about twisting your brain up and getting it all wrinkled. It is about abandonment, a city of dangerously gifted children faith versus knowledge, time travel, and everything in between. No one is truly the good or bad guys and you’ll often wonder if anyone will do the Right Thing. Then you’ll wonder what the Right Thing is. Then you’ll get a headache. BUT if you read on and soldier through, you’ll meet loads of interesting characters, see a bizarre parody of human civilization through the eyes of kids, and be rewarded with a mind-twisting ending that pays off all your questions but doesn’t GIVE you the answers. Unlike most mystery novels, this really is a puzzle and you’ll be very glad when you ‘solve’ it. Not for everyone and quite unusual, The Only Ones is a rare treat for anyone that is a bit unusual themselves.
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