Monday, November 21, 2011

The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer

It is very difficult to talk about The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer without producing spoilers. I can only talk in the vaguest terms about the plot because one of the absolute strengths of the book for me was its unpredictability. The reader really is taken for a ride and cannot know what happens next. It is a true page-turner and I found myself really interested in what happened to Martin, the main character and to some extent, some of the secondary characters. I was impressed by Starmer's vision of a group of teens reimaging the world in a fair and cooperative manner. I was particularly taken by Starmer's view that each of the characters had a special strength or skill which made him or her essential to the well-being of the group. That's a pretty nice message to send out to the young in the world today.

The beginning is satisfyingly atmospheric and mysterious. The central portion of the book is a variant of the "last men on earth" genre and the ending I felt tied up too many loose ends and was unrealistically happy.

The Only Ones is marketed as a middle grade novel, but I consider it to be far too sophisticated for that age group. The main character, Martin, is a thirteen-year-old through most of the book and there are enough instances of teen worries, problems and desires for me to be unable to recommend it for pre-teens. There is no sex but a lot of boy girl interest and there is also enough violence to make me not recommend it to pre-teens. It also requires a highly developed sense of logic to unravel the plot. Younger readers might enjoy some of the actions in the book, but would have no real understanding of the workings of the plot.

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