Friday, May 23, 2014

The Only Boy: Jordan Locke

Rating: 3/10
Standalone FOR NOW
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult,
Recommended For Fans of CLAN: Realm Lovejoy
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: December 17, 2013
Page Count: 268
Format: eBook
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Nobles

Goodreads Synopsis: Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, 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.

Okay, I have to be honest with you guys. Honesty is the best policy right? I did not enjoy The Only Boy by Jordan Locke very much. I have several reasons for this. The first is that I had wanted to read TOB a lot every since I first heard about it and read the synopsis. The second reason I wanted to is connected to my first. It was too hyped up. I know this is a really weird statement to make about an Indie novel, but Jordan Locke really did put a lot of effort into publicizing his book, which is completely fine and the right thing to do, especially in his position an an Indie author. He had book blitzes with Xpresso Book Tours and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, a blog tour with I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, and a review opportunity with Xpresso Book Tours. And those are just the promotional methods I can think of off the top of my head. Anyway, I had heard about it originally from Xpresso Book Tours, and jumped at the opportunity to review it. 

The Only Boy is a science fiction novel, about an anomaly that would be killed if discovered by all the people that are all the same. A little risk of being overused, but still the foundation of what could be an amazeballs story. I know Indie published books have a bed reputation sometimes due to the fact that they are -Indie published. I have heard complaints about grammar, structure, characters, and you name it - someone has complained about it. I for one, while wary with my Indies, am still aware that there are some wonderful gems like Peaceful Genocide: J.A. Reynolds, Clan: Realm Lovejoy, and How to Say Goodbye: Amber Lin, and I had hoped that The Only Boy would be one of those gems. Sadly, it was not.

My first statement about The Only Boy was that the premise had so much freaking potential. I am in love with science fiction, throw in everyone being the same, add somebody different in a unique situation (like being the only boy in a society of all girls), a pinch of genetics and overbearing government, and I am ready to go. This could have been a breathtaking novel that made me tap through my Kindle, and clutch it to my chest when the sparks flew. What I would like to establish was that it wasn't. I have many complaints throughout this review, but the bottom line is that I didn't like the book.

I felt like I had absolutely no connection with the characters. Mary and Taylor were very underdeveloped, and I felt like they never truly felt things. For example, there is a large portion of the book where Mary and Taylor are separated. Sure they said they missed each other, and wished they hadn't parted ways (I'm trying not to spoil the book with word choice), but did they ever really prove it?  As a reader, I don't think so. It's not like I wanted to read an epic love story between the two with flowery language, and the promise that they would die without each other, but I did expect a heck of a lot more emotion than what they gave. 

"It's the little things that count.....

Thank goodness that quote wasn't used in the book, otherwise I really would have disliked it, but it serves as a transition into my next complaint. Part of what makes a character feel real is the little details and subtle nuances about them. I don't want to read an entire paragraph describing what Mary was wearing, or why Taylor loves the color blue. But I do want to know about them. I want to know what makes characters tick. I want to know the body language of a character when they're sad. I want to know what their values are. And what I want to know really isn't that demanding. It doesn't require an entire novel in and of itself to describe why somebody values trust above everything else. I just want a few sentences here and there that gives me all of this information.

I would also like to put in my little Legend plugin and say that the dual point of views in The Only Boy had SO much potential. This is where Jordan Locke could have let us into Mary and Taylor's head, develop a connection with them, and then I would have cared more about what was happening to them than the newest tweet from Christina Grimmie. When two people tell a story, you are able to completely be immersed with different opinions, and it's constant stimulation because there are two different people. Instead, I would have enjoyed the story better if it was in third person, which is something I rarely ever say.  

Next up in this review.... the romantic dynamic. I am sorry for my next statement, and I know it is extremely sexist, but I have to say it because I keep seeing it over and over again in male, science fiction authors. They can't write romance. Indie, big publishing house, young, old, teacher, police officer (okay, I haven't actually read a book authored by a police officer), all of them can't seem to right a good romance. I'm not asking for swoon worthy guys and a sonnet explaining two people's love for each other. What I do want is something that isn't overdone or emotionless. 

This is a tad bit of a spoiler, but (come one, who didn't guess this one) Mary and Taylor "fall in love." I say this statement with quotation marks because I felt NOTHING between the two of them. It was as if it were a "right time in the right place" situation, and Taylor could have fallen for anybody else. I mean, he had an entire compound of girls to choose from considering he was the ONLY BOY. 

Another perfect transition into how the world building of The Only Boy lacked in a lot of departments. It didn't really make a whole lot of sense. There is a whole explanatiion as to why he is the freaking ONLY BOY in the ENTIRE compound, but it still doesn't seem realistic. You might be thinking, "Well gee Sofia, it's FICTION" But fiction is supposed to at least make sense. It was explained how people were created without any men, and it was explained how Taylor got to be the only boy. Yet the explanation was extremely vague, and didn't make a lot of sense to me. Anyone can sit there and tell me about the science of genetics, but you have to keep my interest and explain it in a simple way.

Also, you know all that "Show, Don't Tell" business ELA teachers love to shove down your throat? Well, it might have helped Locke if he had done a little of that. I don't need the descriptions to be distracting, I just need them to be there.

What really ruined everything for me was the stinking plot. The first chapter was good, but as soon as Mary found out Taylor was a boy (way too soon in my opinion), everything went downhill. I could have bared everything else if the plot kept me interested. The undeveloped characters, flimsy world building, and uninteresting romance would have all been forgotten if The Only Boy had been a page turner. Sadly, on my part, the author's, and Xpresso Book Tours, this was not meant to be. If you asked me to give you a recap, or one of those fancy plot graphics, I probably couldn't even though I'm writing this review the same day I finished the book like a good little book blogger.

Conclusion: What could have been a wonderful story, and a gem in a pile of Indie rocks, was not meant to be and left me utterly disappointed.

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