Luke's Reviews > The Only Ones

The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell
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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 around a father/son dynamic, 'The Only Ones' around a mother/daughter one, and their tones are completely different.

What sets 'The Only Ones' apart from any dystopic fiction I've ever read is the narrator's voice. This novel is a masterclass in what Chuck Palahniuk calls "burnt tongue". Saying things wrong, reorganizing the syntax; anything to give the narrator a unique voice and slow the reader to a more deliberate pace. The protag's voice in this novel is infused with enough humor and naivete to alleviate much of the tension of the bleak world she finds herself in.

And while 'The Road' is pretty much cover to cover horror and despair, the world of 'The Only Ones' has much more of a functioning society, one decimated by plagues, but constantly going through the ebbs and flows of disaster and recovery, which means the issues presented by the mother/daughter dynamic are much more universal and relatable; ones any parent will likely see a bit of their own lives in. It also spans the course of almost two decades, so you follow the characters through multiple stages in their lives, growing with them along the way.

These pages are soaked in humor, tenderness, love, absolute heartbreak and everything in between. Not only is the story itself inspiring, but the fact that it's the debut novel of a 70 year old woman is remarkable in its own right. I'm hoping for more big things from Carola Dibbell.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 29, 2015 – Shelved
March 29, 2015 – Finished Reading

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