The Only Boy by Jordan Locke
Review by Lauren
copy from the author, but all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules-the Matriarch's senseless rules-prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out. Taylor's got a dangerous secret: he's a boy. His compound's been destroyed, and he's been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he'll be exiled. Maybe even executed. Mary's never seen a boy-the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks-and she doesn't suspect Taylor's secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him. Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary-and braving the land beyond the compound's boundaries.
Review: Due to a disease that nobody could find the cure for, all the men on the planet have been wiped out. Or so the women in charge tell the girls in their care. Mary's books at school do not contain an unmarked picture of a male, so when she meets Taylor, she doesn't suspect their secret...which is, of course, that Taylor is not really a girl but a boy. Taylor didn't grow up in Section One. Where he came from, he had books that showed the truth and friends and family that would touch and show physical affection.
Mary is curious about Taylor from the start but when she eventually learns his secret, she isn't sure how to feel. She's been told her whole life that boys are dangerous and the cause of the virus that killed so many (even some of the women). She is nervous, but still interested. It took me a bit to get used to the idea that Mary would be so willing to attach herself to Taylor and break the rules she grew up with. What helped me is remembering that when Mary's mom was alive, she would touch her and that makes Mary crave for more and with Taylor, she might just get that.
The book keeps you guessing as to what everyone's true motives are, and while it took me a bit of time to get into the story, that doesn't mean it was particularly slow. For example, it doesn't take long for Mary to learn Taylor's secret, which is just the beginning of the excitement in The Only Boy.
Overall, I'm glad I gave this one a chance. I don't read a lot of dystopian novels like this, but I have found some indie titles catching my attention lately, including this one. The novel is told in first-person present point of view, with the perspective changing between Mary and Taylor. It was nice getting both of their perspectives, especially when the two are separated from each other later in the book. The Only Boy might not be the most imaginative dystopian, but it does prove to be a good read.