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The Only Ones

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  987 ratings  ·  195 reviews
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 K ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Two Dollar Radio (first published February 23rd 2015)
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  987 ratings  ·  195 reviews


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Althea Ann
Nov 19, 2015 rated it liked it
'The Only Ones' started off 5-star strong.
I loved the character of Inez - her voice was incredibly well-developed and believable. She's an ultimately pragmatic individual, horribly uneducated, with a limit of vision that restricts her scope and her ability to understand things in a terrifying way. However, within her own sphere she is a tough, capable survivor. I absolutely loved the combination of her slangy Queens vocabulary and the half-understood medical argot which she has picked up throug
...more
Snotchocheez
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
I suppose Ms. Dibbell may have an audience out there somewhere for this dystopian post-pandemic cautionary tale. Sadly, the main character/narrator Inez's erratic speech (one minute conversant in words like 'mitochondria' and 'in vitro fertilization', the next unable to discern the difference between 'should of' and 'should have' (for instance)) was just too jarring to ignore. The story was okay; the narrative much less so.
Annet
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: apocalyptic
This is a bleak, dark story of a post pandemic world, with a tragic atmosphere yet also of hope…. Very intriguing read.

A story of a girl – the young mother - and her daughter struggling to survive in the ruins of Brooklyn and Queens.
Kind of reminds me of The Road, but then different.

The story is told by a young girl, Inez, who wanders a post pandemic world that gets hit by several types of flu, every time causing death, chaos, disorder, burning down city parts, disinfecting…. She is strangely
...more
Lori
Read 1/28/15 - 2/2/15
4 Stars - Strongly recommended to fans of unique voices, dystopian pandy's, and unexpected motherhood
Pages: 354
Publisher: Two Dollar Radio
Releases: March 2015


In the near future, wave after wave of infections and viruses have greatly reduced the world's population. Many of those who survive are rendered incapable of having children on their own and require the services of "Donors" and "Hosts" - women who allow their eggs to be harvested or agree to become surrogate mothers fo
...more
Luke
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This has taken my top spot for novel of the year. This is dystopic fiction, but unlike any you've ever read.

I found myself constantly drawing comparisons to Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' (one of my all-time favorite novels), because they share the common thread of parenthood and sacrifice in a dystopic world, the lengths that one will go to protect the ones they love and too often the futility of it all. But aside from those parallels, these are completely different novels. 'The Road' revolves a
...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The jacket copy for Carola Dibbell's The Only Ones claims that this book proves that there's still original things to be done in the post-apocalyptic genre; and damned if that didn't turn out to be spectacularly true, although I suppose we should expect no less from the always excellent Two Dollar Radio. A
...more
Linda Robinson
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Post-multiple-pandemic world, (how can you not devour a book with a pandemic called slatewiper?) with the remaining population wearing nylon sheets, masks; doused regularly with anti-plague spray whose origins are dicey and which might kill you outright itself. People steal children, grief-stricken with loss. Sweeps into quarantine are arbitrary and, if you live through it, at least you get some food and a place to sleep in relative safety. There are vaccines around which also might kill you out ...more
wishforagiraffe
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a near future dystopia with a focus on pandemics and (really only hints of) climate change. It's written in a difficult narrative style, but well worth reading. Definitely more on the side of being "message fiction," so there are plenty of negative reviews here on goodreads because of a disagreement with the message. I personally thought the book had a lot of really excellent things to say about empathy, humanity, motherhood, cloning, and disease.
Muse Monthly
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was not really prepared for how beautiful The Only Ones was.

The story begins with Inez (or simply "I", which is a poetic choice for a first-person narrative), a young woman of little education but high wit and what we call 'street smarts', stepping off a bus in New Jersey, but not New Jersey as we know it. This is a near-future America that has been ravaged by plague and virus. Diseases that readers might recognize - tuberculosis and the flu, for example - as well as what's referred to as The
...more
Sarah
May 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to give this a 2 just based on the premise but honestly...I just didn't like it. It was a struggle to finish and when I did get done, I wasn't sure what the point was to the whole story. Meh.
Holly Booms Walsh
First - if you can get this in audio - do it. 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; uneducated but not stupid; savvy if no ...more
Dramatically Bookish (ReviewsMayVary)
In this world of pandemics, egg doners, and surrogate mothers, we meet Inez, who has grown up earning money with her body. When a buyer leaves her with an expected child, her maternal instincts kick in and she becomes super boring... no. But, it's true that I didn't care as much about the motherhood part.

I loved Inez's voice as a world-weary, no-nonsense child, to a newly anxious mother, to a reflective woman looking into the future.

File this under: no matter what you do for your kids, they ca
...more
Kinsey
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A brilliant, bizarre, and heart-breaking look at what it means to be a "mother". In a future dystopian America - complete with monthly pandemics and religious fanatics - Inez agrees to help a woman in exchange for money and somehow ends up the unwitting guardian of a baby girl. The circumstances behind the girl's conception and birth are considered crimes against nature and Inez is forced to lie, cheat, and steal in order to keep their secret all while trying to give Ani the best kind of life sh ...more
C. L. Phillips
May 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
I only made it to page 70. And that was a chore. The premise of the book is ok, but the writing is terrible. Nearly every sentence has a tense shift from present to past, or vice versa, as if the narrator has no idea whether this story is happening now or sometime in her past. And the dialogue tags..."he goes" is not a replacement for "he says." I could go on but it would just be mean. Don't read this. Just don't. I picked it up because the back cover says it should be "shelved alongside Margare ...more
Molly
Sep 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
Really dry. Very boring to read. I got approximately 150 pages in and just couldn't keep going. It's hard to read because of the voice the author gave the main character. Very flat and detached, it was hard to understand what was going on at points. The flat and detached tone results in a very, very choppy read... I liked the main premise of the book, but that's all I liked. Once you actually start reading it, it really doesn't go anywhere, it's way too slow and the characters aren't developed b ...more
Book Riot Community
Anything from Two Dollar Radio goes on my insta-read list; they put out thought-provoking work that has an edge so sharp, you could cut yourself if you weren’t careful. The Only Ones follows Inez through a post-pandemic world. She makes a living for herself as a test subject, thanks to her rare immunity. One of the procedures involves a highly controversial method of using the genetic material of the immune to create children for those who had lost theirs to disease; when the grieving mother bac ...more
Karen
Loved this, reviewing it for Seattle Review of Books. <3 <3 <3
Sonia Crites
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautifully heartbreaking. The main character Inez will definitely capture your heart. Her drive to live and her overall spirit are endearing. The writing is strong and the story is engaging. I was sad to finish it.
Holly Bryant-Simpson
Probably 4 stars for the story, but Sasha Dunbrooke's narration brought it up to a 5.

Carola Dibbell's dystopian world-building is exquisite. Often when I read dystopia, I'm not quite clear how we ended up with this world. Or, it seems unbelievable. The post-pandemic near-future world we find Inez in was rather believe to me. This is a story of motherhood and survival and it's lovely and heartbreaking.

Looking through some of the other reviews, I'm extra glad I went with the audiobook. Sasha Dunb
...more
Kaleigh
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Right on the back cover of this novel, there is a bold-faced comparison to “Brave New World” which is probably where I got the wrong idea. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up when books claim to be like other books, but there’s not much I love more than classic speculative fiction so I took the bait. Unfortunately, I found the major elements of my beloved sci-fi to be lacking in this novel. The world-building was sparse, the overall vision of society felt disjointed and confusing, and I was not s ...more
Megan
Gripping and supple. In a post-pandemic world (or, really, a world where the new normal is constantly pandemic), a young woman named Inez is brutally familiar with selling her body: she was a child prostitute, and now she's a frequent medical test subject. It's a bleak life, subject to forces both maddeningly bureaucratic and frighteningly lawless, but Inez is immune to every and any disease that can be thrown at her, so surviving is what she's good at. She falls in with some fringe reproductive ...more
Chris Blocker
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sa-barer
The Only Ones is your average mother-daugther story, except the setting is a post-apocalyptic wasteland ravaged by disease and the daughter is a clone. I know you're thinking, thanks for the spoiler, but these details are all established very early in the story. I'm not giving too much away here.

Surprisingly, what works best about this story is the mind of the mother. She's a little slow at times. She's also extremely repetitive (“I will tell you this,” “maybe you are thinking,” “I don't even ha
...more
Jess
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, post-pandemic
The Only Ones gets one of my rare 5 star ratings. The book is set in a post-pandemic world with ongoing, widespread disease. Within this world, we follow Inez Fardo, who is what they call a "hardy" because she is immune to disease. She winds up selling biological matter to make "hardy" clones for a mother who has lost all of her children. The mother backs out last minute and Inez is left to raise her own clone in this chaotic, disease-ridden and panic stricken world.

At first I wondered if I was
...more
Janice
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, scribd, 2016
I didn't think I'd like this book at first. I picked it off one of those same lists of "good books you're probably not aware of." But the beginning was a bit off-putting and odd. I'm glad I stayed with it, though.

It's a story about a dystopian future where deadly epidemics are largely out of control, and millions of people have died. The main character is one of the rare hardy people. The various hardy strains have natural immunity from most, if not all, the diseases. Since the plagues have als
...more
Alison
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apocalyptic
I loved this book! I'm so glad my coworker Debbie Notkin loaned it to me. It's an amazing combination of apocalypse and first time parenting woes. This apocalypse is all pandemics so be prepared to be worried about illnesses after this. The relationship between the main character and her "child" is so poignant and bittersweet. It reminded me of first generation immigrant stories but from the perspective of the immigrant trying to understand their child who has assimilated to the new culture.
Joanne
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was very difficult to get in to. The first person narrative is so deadpan at the beginning. Eventually the narrative loosens up a bit as you get to the narrator, Inez, more intimately and follow her through her tribulations. It actually ends up really pulling you in and I wished I could keep following her in this almost too real and entirely possible, pandemic-riddled future. It was interesting to see a character deal with not only a peril filled environment but with things that we con ...more
Matt
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I didn't like this book. The subject matter was incredibly challenging, the questions of bio ethics it raises thought-provoking. I's narrative voice keeps you at arms length for a lot of the book, but as she struggles to raise her daughter in a world ravaged by pandemics, she draws you in to her struggles as her sometimes robotic, quasi-objectivity breaks down, and turns into a powerful, powerful voice. I didn't like this book because of the subject matter challenges it presents, but it was grea ...more
Erin
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, post-apoc
If you love fierce, female, first-person POV (like Incendiary by Chris Cleave), don't miss The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell. Set in a future NYC where fatal pandemics routinely sweep through, Inez is a hardy, one of the rare people immune to the viruses. She and her daughter must try to survive in a world with limited food and resources, all while hiding a dangerous secret. Funny, touching, honest, this book will sweep you up. Five stars! It's my new favorite book of 2015.
Bethany
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it
interesting but flawed debut novel. the author's realistic portrayal of the tediousness and repetition of survival became tedious and repetitive. it made the first half of the book drag. however it's really great to read a dystopian sci-fi book where the protagonist is a single mother of color.
Carl
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
The story is an intense portrayal of love, devotion, and teenage angst, compounded with insights into the struggles of a poverty-stricken person in a scary world. For my taste, there are a few too many and too long travel passages involving vehicles that are incompletely defined.
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Goodreads Librari...: add cover to newly added audio edition of book 2 12 Aug 17, 2015 07:41AM  
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Carola Dibbell is a highly regarded rock critic whose fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Fence, and Black Clock. Writing about books as well as music, Dibbell was a Village Voice contributor for many years. The Only Ones is her debut novel.
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“In my own life many bad things was done to me, and that is how I know that when it happens sometimes you think something is wrong with you. Whoever did those things to you? It's them it's wrong with. It's not your fault.” 2 likes
“I wish I didn’t see how her face looks when she said, “So I am a clone.” “There’s a lot of things you can call it,” I told her. “You can call it what you want. I prefer human being.” 1 likes
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