The Only Boy
by Jordan Locke
Today you can read my review of The Only Boy by Jordan Locke. This review opportunity is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours. You can read an excerpt, a guest post by the author, and an interview with the author in my previous blog post.
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.
"Taylor's eyes catch mine. Blue eyes. Haunting eyes. I open my mouth to speak, to accept the apology, but can't even breathe."
"Why does she make me feel like I've been struck with some paralyzing disease?"
"Throughout history, men have been a destructive, repressive force. Believe me, we are better off without them."
"... the Cleansing didn't stop the struggle for power. The Cleansing didn't end violence. The Cleansing didn't bring peace. When free to find their own way, women are just as destructive."
"She's wrong - women are violent. Because right now, I want to kill her."
"I'm miles from home and in a strange place, and yet I've never felt this safe before."
"It's reasonable to suspect that this epidemic will end humanity. Even if it doesn't, the Earth as we know it will cease to exist."
"I could tell her that just the sight of him makes me feel more alive. I could tell her that his smile makes me both deeply elated and painfully sad. I could tell her that I yearn to be near him. But she'd never understand."
"Her mother probably never held her when she was a toddler. She never knew the power of touch. She obviously never loved. Never truly loved."
By Lynda Dickson
Mary lives in a matriarchal society run on 73 rules. The Cleansing killed off all of the men decades ago. Now, all references to men have been removed from books, touching is prohibited (rule 8), and every infraction is punished by a stint in the pit. Mary has spent every day of her life locked inside the hospital (rule 22) in Section One, ruled over by the Matriarch. She has never seen a boy, but that's about to change. A new visitor comes to the hospital from Section Seven after everyone else is killed by a bomb. Taylor is taller and skinnier than the other girls, she wears baggy clothes, her voice is a bit husky, and when she touches Mary, Mary feels something she has never felt before. In a society where men are reviled, Taylor lives in fear of being discovered.
What will Mary do when she finds out Taylor is actually a boy? When Taylor escapes, will Mary follow him? Can they make a new life together after having been raised so differently? What other dangers will they face? Will their love triumph over the odds? And who is really behind the attacks that killed both Mary's mother and Taylor's entire compound? These questions and more will be answered in this action-packed tale.
The story is told alternately from Mary's and Taylor's points-of-view. I loved the interactions between these two and Mary's discovery of how important touch is. In her society, where touch is prohibited for fear of communicating disease, all semblance of humanity has been lost. And, while the surviving women blame the men for all of the Earth's problems, their own actions prove that the violence doesn't stop just because all the men have been cleansed from the planet. This books gives us plenty to think about and is a great observation on society and humanity in general. But it's also full of action and would make a great movie!
About the Author
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.