Inez wanders a post-pandemic world, strangely immune to disease, making her living by volunteering as a test subject. She is hired to provide genetic material to a grief-stricken, affluent mother, who lost all four of her daughters within four short weeks. This experimental genetic work is policed by a hazy network of governmental ethics committees, and threatened by the Knights of Life, religious zealots who raze the rural farms where much of this experimentation is done.
When the mother backs out at the last minute, Inez is left responsible for the product, which in this case is a baby girl, Ani. Inez must protect Ani, who is a scientific breakthrough, keeping her alive, dodging authorities and religious fanatics, and trying to provide Ani with the childhood that Inez never had, which means a stable home and an education.
With a stylish voice influenced by years of music writing, The Only Ones is a time-old story, tender and iconic, about how much we love our children, however they come, as well as a sly commentary on class, politics, and the complexities of reproductive technology.
©2015 Carola Dibbell (P)2015 ListenUp Production, LLC
The narration by Sasha Dunbrooke takes a good book and elevates it to a GREAT book. This book is told in first person, in a sort of dialect in which the grammar is not always correct, and Dunbrooke keeps our protagonist (Inez, or "I") from sounding stupid, and layers in some of the best emotional performances I've ever heard in an audiobook narration. Through her voice, we know that Inez is brave, not foolhardy; uneaducated but not stupid; savvy if not smart; practical but not unfeeling; scared but determined.
The world of the book is set in the near future (2070's) in New York after a series of pandemics and epidemics have decimated the population of the world. This is a gritty, fearful world but it is not a police state. There is enough government left that there are online message boards to use to communicate and food drops of MRE rations to help sustain life. Inez is 30 when we meet here, and she is the conduit through which we learn the state of the world and the history of the pandemics, but the backstory never feels like exposition. The language is dynamic, abbreviated, colloquial (Inez only finished 3rd grade. We're dealing with a lot of people that had no infrastructure for schools during the worst of the pandemics). There is new technology and new slang for it. The story is action-packed, with struggles for survival and the have versus the have-nots, but there is very little actual violence.
The focus of the book mostly centers on the fact that the pandemics and vaccine effects have made reproduction very difficult. People are selling eggs and sperm, IVF, test tube fertilization and even fertilized embroyos in both a black and a grey market system. People that have proven that they are immune to one or more of the pandemics are selling blood, eggs, teeth, skin cells to the people that supply this "alt repro" industry. Or they take jobs testing vaccines.
Inez answers an ad to be a test subject, and ends up proposing that she donate eggs and help raise some "viables" for sale. The process that finally take sis essentially cloning, which will produce a disease-resistant baby. The wealthy client backs out last minute, and Inez is given her "daughter" Ani, essentially a clone of herself. The bulk of the book follows Inez and ani through childhood, in which Inez does everything she can to offer Ani a life as different from Inez's own perilous, abandoned, and abusive one that she can.
The language of the book reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, with its similar themes of parenthood and post-apocalyptic survival. It's like no PA book I've ever read though. It really tugged on my emotions by the end, despite the very "just the facts" abbreviated language of the book and almost entire lack of sentimentality in the narrative. The first person POV was perfect for this story, and the tale was really immediate and visceral and tense.
This was one of the best books I've read in 2015. Heartily recommended, particularly in audio format.
NOTE: I received a copy of this audiobook from the author, narrator, or publisher in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
I really enjoyed the more realistic take on the post-pandemic world portrayed by the author. They didn't waste time with explaining how or why the world got that way; they just dove right into explaining how things were.
When Inez is on the run from the religious zealots who find her methods of conception unnatural.
She does a great job of bringing the characters' accents and inflections to life.
When Inez gets a message from her daughter even though their relationship is strained.
This is a great read for fans of The Road, Children of Men, etc. (dystopian literature lovers)
The telling of the care an uneducated woman takes care of a baby with no role models.
Inez strong yet vunerable.
Her talks with Roudan and he tells her she is unique.
When Inez goes to New York. I was so sad.
This audiobook was provided by the author/narrator/publisher free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast dot com.
The voice for this story was amazing. It pulled you in, kept you there, and made you a believer! Great job by the author. Amazing voice performance.
The main character has so much depth and realism.
Sasha Dunbrooke MADE this book. She was the perfect voice of the main character.
This book is an experience you will enjoy, and remember.
I am at that half a century mark in years. I enjoy audiobooks,cats,rats and most days my family,not necessarily in that order!lol
I found this story VERY cool!Imagine a world where epidemics have wiped out so many people and infrastructure that there are few children left or being born.A scientist starts taking eggs from a woman and doing experiments.The main good thing is that she is a 'Hardy' and that no infection,virus,etc affects her...or her progeny.A woman orders 3 or 4 children to 'replace' the ones she lost in the last bout of flu.She then declines the baby.We get to be part of this childs life from beginning to end.It was fun to hear Sasha Dunbrooke voice both Inez and her 'daughter' Aunnie.Even after disaster,kids are still kids and I could really relate to this pair!
I was given this book free for an honest review.
The story focuses more on the experience of raising a child than on the postapocalyptic scenario. It was a good enough story, but some parts were a bit slow for me.
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