Your One & Only – Adrianne Finlay – HMH Books for Young Readers – 6 February 2018
Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?
While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?
Your One and Only is a compelling YA science-fiction novel that tackles the complexity of love, compassion, community, genetic engineering, and what it means to be human.
Althea-310 is one of ten Althea sisters from the 310 generation, one of nine homo factus models that make up their community. When the leaders of the community reveal that they have created a human from genetic remains, Althea-310 is shocked by how unlike one of her brothers and sisters he is. Jack has been raised alone outside of the clone community, raised as a human, and so it is not only his face and build that differs so greatly from the nine models. The clones are unwilling to trust Jack but Althea-310 is strangely drawn to the outsider.
This sci-fi, set far into the future of a world that has degraded and broken and then slowly rebuilt, looks far more at humanity and what it means to be human than at the science that has led the clones to where they are. As such, this book is about love and emotions, belonging, and understanding. Despite that, the world building is well constructed and well thought out. The clones’ world has evolved from human society, but, much like the clones themselves, has been altered over the years, refined, and has lost something of its humanity. Sex is used as one example of how many remnants of human society have been changed into rituals, without spontaneity or emotion.
Despite most of the characters in this book sharing one of nine names, there were, surprisingly, a number of distinct characters who become important and memorable parts of the story. Although, I’ll admit that it did get a little confusing. I really couldn’t distinguish between Nyla-313 and Nyla-314 (I think the former is Althea-310’s friend), and Althea’s sisters blurred into one similar mass. But through this, it is hard not to capture the overall effect and message – that difference and individually is what makes us unique and human, and is what the clones have lost through their continual genetic modifications.
The romance doesn’t develops until the latter half of the book, and rightly so, as Althea has much to learn before her views about difference and ‘the human’ change enough for her to truly get to know Jack. While the romance does play an important part in the story, it is certainly not the focus. Instead, the story is more about Althea and other characters coming to understand and value individuality, and for Jack to understand the clones’ society and his role within it.
As yet, I have not heard anything about this book being the first in a series. It works perfectly as a standalone, but I would welcome further books. There is more that can be discovered, greater change to be enacted, a different future to be lived out. If there is to be a second book, I will eagerly join with these characters again as they forge for themselves a new and more accepting society.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Genre: Science-fiction- Dystopian.
Themes: Genetics, clones, genetic engineering, romance, feelings, community, future, adventure, relationships.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Frequent sexual references, implied and vaguely detailed sex scenes and references to sexual relationships. Violence, fighting and descriptions of mild injury. References to euthanasia.
Published: 6 February 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 320 pages.