I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Only Boy is a dystopian with a unique and interesting premise. The world created by Jordan Locke is eerie, strange, and one that makes me nauseated just thinking about it. It takes place a couple centuries after most of the population has been wiped out by an epidemic that first targeted all the males. Pockets of the descendants of survivors live together in this haunting tale.
The story alternates points of view between Mary and Taylor. Mary has spent her entire life in Section One with about three hundred other females. Rules are harsh and include no touching—ever. Breaking any of the ridiculous rules earns time in the pit. Even before Taylor arrived at the compound, Mary was longing for more, for human contact and freedom from the tyrannical Matriarch's rule.
Taylor lived in Section Seven, where the rules weren't followed to the letter, where touching was allowed as well as individuality. When his home was destroyed, he ended up at Section One, hiding the fact that he's male from everyone. He assumed that he'd be killed on sight if anyone found out about him. But Taylor's old enough to need to shave on a regular business, so it was only a matter of time until he was discovered.
The point of view jumps back and forth between Mary and Taylor, sometimes within a few pages. The voices are nearly identical, and several times I had to reread a section because I forgot whose POV I was in. Because this story is told in first person narrative, we only know what the two characters know. I was left with tons of unanswered questions due to this. I'm still confused about the disease itself. It hasn't been eradicated, women are still turning up infected. How? Where does the disease come from? How is it spread?
Supposedly animals were infected in addition to humans and many species died out. Deer are still around, though, and I can't help but wonder how they reproduce without males. The women of Section One use in vitro fertilization to make more girls. They don't bother with boys because they die almost immediately from the disease. How did Taylor survive? If he's immune, I hope they can use him to develop a cure.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. The plot is intriguing, the characters a bit less so. There's a lot going on in this book for one novel. Poor Mary and Taylor go from bad situation to bad situation with no chance to recover in between. This was another book I had a terrible time putting down. I was hooked into Jordan Locke's strange world immediately and didn't stop reading until the end. The ending was quite satisfying, though in a lot of ways it was more beginning than ending. I liked the hope that still burned within the characters. So many dystopian authors tend to forget how important hope is.
If you like the dystopian genre, then I think you'll really like this novel. It's nice to find something a bit different from the norm. I'm not a huge dystopian fan (mainly for the lack of hope in so many novels), but I really enjoyed The Only Boy, like I said earlier, I couldn't put it down. It's appropriate for ages 13+ and also for precocious preteens. Some scenes contain graphic violence which may disturb some readers.