The One by John Marrs (Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing)
Review copy provided by Netgalley.
Genres: Romance, Drama, Thriller
Scientists have finally discovered the key to a lasting romance – DNA. Geneticists have identified one gene, which each person shares with just one other individual, their Match. Five people decide to take the test in the hope of meeting their one true love. What they encounter will change their lives irrevocably, and will they get their happily ever after?
Imagine if you could scientifically identify the love of your life. Would you do it? The One is a fantastic exploration of the implications of this idea – what if your one true Match isn’t a good person? What if they are already in a relationship? What if you are in a relationship? It also challenges what our idea of love really is, and how much people are willing to sacrifice in order to have it.
The premise of this novel is a really unique idea, and its one which I think would appeal to a lot of people. Imagine being able to prove you were meant to be with someone. I think I’d take the test.
The One is written from the perspective of 5 people who sign up to Match Your DNA with the hope of finding their true love. Whilst using 5 individuals is a really clever way to explore the different effects taking the test could have, I found it detracted a little from the flow of the novel. There was great tension created, and each of the 5 storylines were very distinct, but I think it would have worked better if there were fewer characters or more than one chapter dedicated to each person at a time. At times I felt a bit detached from the characters.
I also wonder whether this structure meant some of the characters weren’t as well defined as they could have been. For instance, there is a character called Ellie who initially claims not to be materialistic, but then states how much she loves clothes.
“Ellie’s business was her priority, not the thread count of the Egyptian cotton covering her bed, how many David Hockney paintings hung from her picture rails or the number of Swarovski crystals used in her hallway chandelier.”
“As much as she admired a strong female role model like Madonna, Ellie was no Material Girl.”
Conversely, in Chapter 35:
“…he held her vintage Alexander McQueen coat open for her to slip her arms into…she knew she shouldn’t feel guilty for buying nice things…and she was a girl who loved her clothes.”
It is just a small niggle, but it’s these sorts of things which vex me slightly. Nevertheless, the cast of this book are distinct, and all of them are at times relatable (even one who many would describe as abhorrent, though maybe less relatable than others!)
Sometimes The One can feel a bit fanciful, such as they way some characters lock eyes and instantaneously know they are Matched, but I suppose if you buy into the concept of a scientific test for your soul-mate these cliches can be overlooked. Maybe that’s the body’s physiological response to meeting someone with the same DNA match as your own!
One of the things I liked best about this novel was the tension. There were some twists and turns that were a little too obvious for my liking, but some I definitely didn’t see coming – and I’m not ashamed to admit that one even had me shedding some tears! There was a particularly juicy twist right towards the end, but obviously I won’t share it with you. Let’s just say it definitely took me by surprise.
The book started off a little weak for my tastes, but it got better and better, and as I was nearing the end I couldn’t really put it down. A very engaging story, if you have the patience to see it through the first few chapters.
The One is released on paperback on 4th May 2017, but you can get it on the kindle NOW!
John Marrs can be contacted via twitter.