The Ones #1
by Daniel Sweren-Becker
Published on September 6, 2016 by Imprint
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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Cody has always been proud of being a One. She and her boyfriend James were two of the lucky babies from the 1% of the U.S. population that were randomly selected to benefit from genetic engineering. Now, she and the rest of The Ones are excelling. They are healthy, beautiful, and talented. They aren't otherworldly, just perfect. And to some, that's not fair. The Equality Movement, capitalizing on the growing fear and jealousy, gains political traction and actually outlaws their existence. Society shows its darker side as The Ones are marginalized. The line between right and wrong blurs in the face of injustice and Cody becomes closer to a group of radical Ones intent on fighting back. James begins to fear just how far she is willing to go for the cause.
Okay, see, I generally avoid YA dystopian anymore and this book didn’t change my mind about the genre.
We’re in the future, though not too far this time around, where some people are extra special with great genes and all that. Not everyone is like this and those that are have been named the Ones. I could get behind all this because the idea of creating the “perfect” human has come up time and again. It’s familiar but not enough that I’m tired of it, especially as I haven’t found one I enjoyed as much as Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies. And the two protagonists of The Ones are, you guessed it, special.
Why? Well isn’t that a good question.
After I finished this book, my main takeaway was that these Ones were SUPPOSED to be something super extraordinary, given enough of an advantage that would make it unfair to treat them and “regular” people the same. That wasn’t what actually seemed to happen, unfortunately, because the Ones never came off as anything but ordinary.
Cody and James are two teenagers chosen at birth to be Ones. They get involved in the movement for equality because, like I said, these Ones are supposed to be superior which makes it unfair for the rest of the human population when it comes to any opportunities they may have in the future. So then the government comes down on the Ones who of course think that’s unfair too. And there’s your dystopian. And it would have worked except this book was just poorly executed. The scenes were so disjointed that they felt like the author cut and pasted parts of other dystopian novels together to make this one. Some made so little sense that I put the book down entirely (waterboarding a teenager? as the FIRST thing you do? really??).
Then at the end. . . did anything really happen? Generally with government takeover books either the government falls or defeats the heroes so there can be a sequel (see option 1). In this, I felt like nothing was ever accomplished. The story just goes on and I’m moving onto a new book. Done deal.
I suppose I should actually mention the characters. Cody and James were teenagers. They were dating. Both were Ones, well at first until you learn one wasn’t except she was still the same person and just as capable so that never made a difference. That’s the extent of the character development. Don’t expect backstories or depth here, it just won’t happen.
Perhaps if this book had released during the big YA dystopian boom, it would’ve been better off but coming out years later it felt like a knock-off version of some of the ones I actually enjoyed.