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One of Us Paperback – 19 Jul 2018
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The Girl with All The Gifts meets To Kill A Mockingbird (Claire North, author of THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST)
A tense thriller with a social conscience . . . an effective, and often moving, portrayal of injustice and prejudice (GUARDIAN)
Potent and powerful . . . DiLouie is an emotionally literate writer, able to see the moral complexities of the revolution he sets in motion, and its likely destination . . . captivating (STARBURST)
An amazing tour-de-force . . . One of Us rattled me to the core. An engrossing, emotionally-charged book and a work of terrible beauty. I loved it, heart and soul (John Dixon, Bram Stoker award-winning author of PHOENIX ISLAND)
One of Us is a powerful and heartbreaking tale about hate fear, and truth. Craig DiLouie is fearless as he explores the dark territory of the human heart (Jonathan Maberry, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author)
Frightening in its familiarity, One of Us is a tale of human monsters and monstrous humans - authentic, brutaland inevitable (David Walton, internationally bestselling author of THE GENIUS PLAGUE)
This seamless fable of loss, violence and hope forces us to examine what it means to be different and what it means to be human (Patrick Freivald, author of JADE SKY)
Craig DiLouie's One of Us is without a doubt one of the best books I'll read this year . . . This book has The Island of Dr Moreau's social conscience, the X-men's imagination and Harper Lee's heart. But it is DiLouie's skill as a storyteller that blends all of that into a compelling work of near perfection (Bracken MacLeod, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author)
This is not a kind book, or a gentle book, or a book that pulls its punches. But it's a powerful book and it will change you (Seanan McGuire)
Disturbing, beautiful and all-too believable, One of Us is a phenomenal monster story and a powerhouse of a novel. DiLouie continues to be the master of writing the human heart and all the terror it contains (Peter Clines, author of THE FOLD)
A startlingly unique and powerfully affecting novel from a remarkable up-and-coming voice in speculative fiction. It is the story of a lost generation and a boy who just wants to be one of us.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I was expecting a different type book. I guess I'm a shallow person because what I expected and wanted was an X-MEN type tale with mutated children with special abilities. Instead this is a denunciation of bigotry, hate, being different, non-tolerance. Parts of the book were what I expected but probably three-quarters of it was a serious discourse. Now that's not a bad thing and I agreed with what was written. It just wasn't the light entertainment I expected.
I received this book from Orbit Books through the Amazon VINE program in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.
I think, being used to the author's zombie plague books, I had some different expectations from this. While this eventually does get violent, it's a far more introspective book. It forces the reader to think about their own definition of humanity, how we treat those less fortunate, and what consequences can come of that treatment - good or bad.
The book is incredibly sad.
While I adored most of our children, nothing in this book happened the way I wanted it to. The book left me feeling incredibly sad - which was maybe the point of it all.
It's a good book. The author thrusts us into a world that, frankly, we just don't want to stay in. And he makes us think about things we would really rather ignore.
There is much to like about this novel: the Plague children concept and the creative array of mutations is interesting, and the obvious allegorical elements regarding slavery make it more substantive than the typical young adult novel. However, certain features of the writing left me feeling, at the end, unable to recommend this book enthusiastically:
1.) The writing is weak throughout (numerous sentence fragments abound) and often hackneyed (in one particularly cringe-worthy passage, a minor character was described as follows: "Her face was long and a bit on the horsey side but her youthful body boasted an hourglass shape and boobs big as zeppelins.") The southern dialect DiLouie gives his characters was grating at points and not representative of rural Virginia. Many of the characters are unidimensional cliches, e.g., Amy's soap-watching, chain-smoking, alcoholic mother and Reverend Gaines's fire-and-brimstone fundamentalism.
2.) I am used to suspending disbelief for horror and science fiction novels, but good horror/SciFi novels create new universes that nonetheless follow fundamental laws of physics and biology. Yes, it's possible for a bacterium to be sexually transmitted and cause great deformities... but there's no way an infection is going to create *so many* different types of deformities, and many of the mutations that occur simply aren't physically possible (a child flying, for instance, or a child with roots, or--least believable of all--one character who masquerades as normal but when enraged, her head ruptures "into a splayed, toothy star" but reverts back to normal appearance.). There's also no basis for the sudden blooming of "special" talents, particularly the not entirely clear transformation of Mary toward the end of the novel. You're also going to have to swallow the assertion that hundreds of thousands of parents would reject their deformed newborns and hand them over to government homes with no further contact. In short, it's hard to immerse yourself in a novel when you can't buy the basic framework of its setting.
One final thought, and content warning: Cruelty and violence (including murder) abounds, and there are a couple of graphic scenes depicting sexual assault. Also troubling was the rape myth ideology voiced by one character, an admittedly villainous pedophile, regarding a high school girl: "He just knew she'd be a wild one in bed once he got her lathered up and taught proper...she wanted him even if she didn't really know it yet."
In the alternate reality narrative of One Of Us, a sexually-transmitted disease from the summer of love has created an entire generation of monsters: babies born with wings, missing arms but with tentacles for legs, upside down faces, and those that look like dogs or apes. The world is horrified, and scared. What caused this horrific plague? In a move based on fear and revulsion, the children are taken away at birth, most are given away, and housed in decrepit, and unmonitored, orphan homes where they are subjected to flea-ridden beds and abuse.
The babies, called plague children, or creepers, grow up in a society that despises them and treats them as slaves. Adults are tested for “the germ” before they engage in any sexual contact. And the horrors of teratogenesis are a mandatory part of all school curriculums. It’s a horror story full of metaphors, blatantly symbolic of the hatred and bigotry that infests our society.
Set in a small Georgia town in 1984, the plague children are coming into their teenage years with the older ones realizing they are more than just hideous creatures. They are developing unusual abilities. And an agent from the Bureau of Teratological Affairs has been visiting what is referred to as the Home interrogating the children, asking if they have "special talents". Four hundred plague children are housed at the home they receive subhuman treatment and are surrounded by felons and miscreants called "teachers".The plague children have Christian names but prefer to call each other by their nicknames: Dog, Tiny, Goof. Only Mary has kept her birth name. When Goof shows off to the agent that he can practically read minds, he disappears in the night.
Dog and Brain and Mary are forced to pick cotton at a local farm as slaves provided by the government. Their truly disgusting teacher verbally abuses them as he lusts after the farmer’s daughter, Sally. The man truly thinks she must love him. It’s really a low point in the book.
Meanwhile, Amy, a normal girl daydreams about her new boyfriend and the friends she has finally let into her life. She lives with a devastating secret that only she and her hard drinking, Virginia Slim-smoking, bitter-hearted mother know.
Mainly told from the perspectives of Amy, Dog, Goof and Sally, the narrative recounts horror after horror after horror that happens to these teens. Rape, child abuse, bigotry, slavery, violence, murder, suicide, dismemberment; every trigger you can imagine is in this book. It’s painful to read and even more painful to realize these acts are based on what our society is capable of or has been in the past.
Thank god for the small moments of happiness sparsely scattered throughout the children’s lives. Thank god for the moments of humor sprinkled throughout the book. I would not have survived otherwise.
It’s well written but with some passages of wandering narrative and an ending that still haunts me. There is no easy answer in the end. It’s dark and gritty and nightmarish. It makes the reader question who is the real monster: the children that are unfortunate to have been born with a genetic malformation or the normals that abuse and despise them.
It’s not a book for everyone and it’s impossible to say I enjoyed it but I will say it is a powerful book I will recommend.