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One of the best and most unique near-future dystopias I've read. "I" (short for Inez) is an unforgettable narrator her voice is raw, piercing and utterly engaging, evolving from her initial desensitized deadpan as she learns to care for baby Ani, the unexpected result of a job gone awry. Deeply human speculative fiction, perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood.
O, The Oprah Magazine's Top 10 Favorite Books of 2015.
Washington Post Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2015.
Inez wanders a post-pandemic world, strangely immune to disease, making her living by volunteering as a test subject. She is hired to provide genetic material to a grief-stricken, affluent mother, who lost all four of her daughters within four short weeks. This experimental genetic work is policed by a hazy network of governmental ethics committees, and threatened by the Knights of Life, religious zealots who raze the rural farms where much of this experimentation is done.
When the mother backs out at the last minute, Inez is left responsible for the product, which in this case is a baby girl, Ani. Inez must protect Ani, who is a scientific breakthrough, keeping her alive, dodging authorities and religious fanatics, and trying to provide Ani with the childhood that Inez never had, which means a stable home and an education.
With a stylish voice influenced by years of music writing, The Only Ones is a time-old story, tender and iconic, about how much we love our children, however they come, as well as a sly commentary on class, politics, and the complexities of reproductive technology.
Carola Dibbell is a highly regarded rock critic whose fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Fence, and Black Clock. Writing about books as well as music, Dibbell was a Village Voice contributor for many years. The Only Ones is her debut novel.