Series: The Ones #1
Published by Imprint on September 6, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format: ARC, Kindle Edition
Source: Review Copy
Cody has always been proud of being a One.
She and her boyfriend James were two of the lucky babies from the 1% of the U.S. population that were randomly selected to benefit from genetic engineering. Now, she and the rest of The Ones are excelling. They are healthy, beautiful, and talented. They aren't otherworldly, just perfect. And to some, that's not fair.
The Equality Movement, capitalizing on the growing fear and jealousy, gains political traction and actually outlaws their existence. Society shows its darker side as The Ones are marginalized. The line between right and wrong blurs in the face of injustice and Cody becomes closer to a group of radical Ones intent on fighting back. James begins to fear just how far she is willing to go for the cause.
Who knew that The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker could make genetic engineering and today’s social issues could go hand-in-hand? Not me, and yet that’s exactly what this science fiction read managed to do. And I loved it and loathed it all at once.
Let’s take a step back. Sweren-Becker has created a world where the genetic modification of humans, by combining the best DNA of two parents to create a higher-than-average child, is no longer such a farfetched idea. Enter Cody and James, two children chosen before birth to become “Ones,” each one of 100 babies chosen for the DNA modification. Fast forward a few years, and the Supreme Court has ruled that The Ones have unfair advantages over regular society, and from there The Equality Movement gains traction, and The Ones begin to feel the heat of what being different can actually mean.
I love the premise of The Ones. Sweren-Becker does an amazing job of weaving this sci-fi idea, which really isn’t so out of this world, into a novel that has huge themes of social injustice, racism, and radicalized fear that are so prevalent today. It starts out small, with James, Cody, and others being forced to wear special badges pointing out their status as Ones during school, but soon spirals into ridiculous circumstances that are not so far removed from American history. I honestly think The Ones is an amazing way to start a conversation with a younger audience about these social issues, and I think Sweren-Becker does a truly fantastic job making this situations feel real.
And I have to say that I love the differences between James and Cody. I love that they fall on such opposite sides in respect to handling how the government and citizens are reacting to the Ones. I love that I believe they represent the opposing sides of people directly involved in today’s social justice issues. James is the peacemaker, Cody is the justice-seeker. James wants to think, Cody wants to act. They balance each other out, which I think is great for The Ones, even if Cody did get on my nerves more than once in the novel.
But even though I loved the message within The Ones, and am eagerly awaiting the next novel (because CLIFFHANGER), I will say that had James not been included in the story, I might have given up on the novel before it really began. As one of the main characters, I often found Cody to be super unlikable, mainly because she felt very wishy-washy. I thought she was going to be this driving force and instead she gets drawn into blindly following a highly untrustworthy character, and Cody just felt like she had more backbone than that at the beginning of The Ones. My hope, as a reader, is that she grows in the second novel and gets the spark back that I saw at the beginning of The Ones.
Overall, if you’re looking for a realistic piece of YA science fiction, I think you’ll find Sweren-Becker’s The Ones a worthwhile read.