To back up, I interviewed Aaron Starmer about darker middle grade books based on a fabulous conversation we had at the BEA KidLit Drink Night, but I hadn’t read the his book because the ARCs had been given out by then. I meant to go back to read it, but with Cybils on my plate, I lost track of it. But I do follow @AaronStarmer on the Twitter, and when he noted there that the first chapter was online, I thought I’d dip in and get a feel for the book. I was hooked.
I spent all day yesterday reading it. I resented the times I had to put it down. It’s darker than my usual middle-grade fare, skirting the edge of Young Adult. It’s realistic and dystopian and science fiction and old-fashioned and smart and sensitive all at the same time. Simply a fantastic book. So let’s do this for realsies.
The Only Ones
by Aaron Starmer
Delcorte 2011, purchased copy
Martin Maple is tucked away from the world on an island with only his father for company, and the occasional summer vacationers to observe. But on his eleventh birthday, his father sails away and doesn’t return. Self-sufficient, Martin waits for him for two years, and then in searching for his father on the mainland finds a world deserted of people. One strange traveler points him on his way to the village of Xibalba, composed of a group of misfit teenagers trying to get by and make a life. Threaded through the book is the mystery of what happened on The Day and what can possibly happen next for this new world. Intensely smart and constantly gripping, realistic characters combine with mystical elements in a perfect story of nothing less than humanity itself. The resolution lingers, tickling the brain with the continuing questions offered by the very best of literature.
Let me say two things here personally. One, I’m calling this as a movie waiting to be made. Two, this book would make a perfect gift, and you’ll have to trust me that its gift-giving potential has an element in the book. Right now, you don’t even need to leave the house, because you can buy The Only Ones with free two-day shipping at Amazon.
Note that free two-day shipping at Amazon and take advantage of the helpful shopping I’ve done for you with 150 Ways to Give a Book. If you are overwhelmed by the choices for your younger readers, try ten top picture books with gift pairings.
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