“The people can fight solely with their raised voices, and I’ve only ever heard them silenced. The ones with the guns always win.”
America as we know it, doesn’t exist. They have walls surrounding them to the North and the South. They have technology in place to keep them safe. And they have a one child policy to preserve scarce resources.
Ava Goodwin is the privileged daughter of the Head of Texas Family Planning. She has a good life. She also has a secret. One her mother died to keep, and her father risks to maintain. Ava has a twin.
Sharing a life, Ava and Mira have spent their entire lives pretending to be one person. They are flawless. They are perfect. But, still, they are exposed. On the run, with nothing and no one left, they flee on a desperate road trip to find something, anything, that will save their lives.
“The longing ache of desperately wanting something I never actually had in the first place, I’m learning, is the pain of true disappointment.”
I’m a complete sucker for dystopian. Show me a world where everything has fallen apart and I’m in. Throw in some political corruption with evil power dynamics and I am here for it! I jumped on the chance to read The Rule Of One, because, hello, all the things.
There is a lot to like in this novel. It’s gritty. It’s raw. It feels devious yet horrifyingly believable as far as potential futures go. I do wish there had been a touch more world building. Why the country, the world, was in the shape it was in. Why this governor of Texas had so much power in relation to the rest of the country. What led to these policies and changes. World building doesn’t have to be extensive. A memory here, a sentence there, and the entire experience is suddenly so much deeper. The story was enjoyable, but I was left with questions regarding how they got there. This won’t deter some readers, but it did make it feel like more of lighter read, rather than the dark dystopian I was hoping for.
“I breathe the open air deep into my lungs. Surrounded by so much danger, I’ve never felt more free.”
I like my dystopians dark and full of terrors. Especially when you’re dealing with the idea that you would be forced to kill or give away unwanted babies in order to maintain the one child policy. I mean, the main facet of the plot alone is already super dark and twisted. However, for all the dark leanings that the premise already throws at the reader, there is a solid coming of age thread written into the girls and their struggle with identity. Who they are, what freedom to be themselves means, where they fit in the world, and how they should behave or react when they are finally in control of making those decisions for themselves. It softens the world a bit, which for a YA book, makes it more approachable.
As I reached the end, I felt a bit rushed, like things weren’t explained fully and initially it felt incomplete. According to Goodreads there appears to be a sequel in the works, so I feel better about that. There were a lot of threads left open, and I am excited to find out more about the rebellion and (fingers crossed) even the history of this world we find ourselves in.
Overall, this is a solid three stars. I enjoyed it. I think it’s very fitting for teens, as the darker and grittier themes I wanted are only hinted at, which makes this an easier read than your average dystopian. This is a book that will get conversation sparked about the ramifications of the world and the choices people have made, which I always feel is excellent for teens and younger readers.
Thank you WunderKind Books for sending me a review copy!