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The Only Ones
By Carola Dibbell
Two Dollar Radio
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
The jacket copy for Carola Dibbell's The Only Ones claims that this book proves that there's still original things to be done in the post-apocalyptic genre; and damned if that didn't turn out to be spectacularly true, although I suppose we should expect no less from the always excellent Two Dollar Radio. A novel which continues Two Dollar's habit of stories told in the first-person voice of abused but smart girls, the thing that sets this apart is the fascinatingly incomplete narration of our confused hero, a New York teenage prostitute in a world whose population has been decimated by a series of pandemic diseases, who gets hired to go on a road trip by an out-of-state customer and only very slowly comes to understand what's going on. (For what it's worth, what's "going on" is that the girl is one of the few lucky people to have been born with a natural immunity to the diseases that have wracked the human race, and her "john" is a black-market doctor who's been hired by a desperate client to see if he can't make healthy babies out of the girl's genetic material; or at least, that's the gist I got from the addictively vague way this storyline is actually parceled out by the unknowing narrator in question.) Featuring a style that can best be called "blue-collar poetry," with information that is very slowly and very deliberately dolloped out bit by bit over 375 pages, this is an easily readable, page-turning genre thriller that doubles as a smart and philosophical indie-lit novel; and although admittedly you're going to have to already be a fan of post-apocalyptic stories to really love this one, if you are then this is an absolute must-have, one of the better books of this genre that I've ever read.
Out of 10: 8.9, or 9.8 for fans of post-apocalyptic literature