The One by John Marrs
Ooh, I ripped right through this wild ride, and no amount of ruckus from my little lad, ringing from the telephone, or beeping from the oven timer *insert photo of burnt rolls here* was able to break my concentration!
The One was a timely read for me, given I had recently read The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson. The latter is a non-fiction book about Jennifer Doudna, one of the pioneering scientists behind the RNA CRISPR technology used for gene editing, and John Marrs’ offering is an inventive fictional story about soulmate matching via DNA chemistry. Not the same in premise, but with both selections, I found myself lost in thought about the ethics of scientists being able to play God, so to speak, and the unintended consequences of tampering with our genetic makeup.
Sure, it might seem like a splendid proposal, being matched with your soulmate, therefore bypassing all the wasted dates with Mr. or Ms. Wrong, and instead, being fast-tracked to blissful happiness…but what of the Mr. or Mrs. Mediocre that you love and were already married to – with 3 kids and a mortgage – before the advent of this Machiavellian scientist’s discovery? What about the people that don’t have matches, and become the lower tier of society: the ‘unmatched,’ and consequently, unloved? Damn, those unintended consequences sure can do a number on the innovations of society.
Ethical debates aside, this is one of the fastest-moving novels I have ever read. I’m sure that the adeptly crafted point-of-view changes between five different clients that were ‘matched’ with their DNA soulmate had a lot to do with this, but it is also an intensely suspenseful thriller that kept me fully immersed. It is like reading five independent books simultaneously, as each person’s story follows its ups, downs, and plot-twisting climaxes, but there is no struggle to keep them straight.
Each tale is unique and inspires reflection, yet my only contention with this style of writing in an average-sized novel is that there is no chance for any substantial character development. Maybe I’m just loyal to an aspect of a story that I cherish, though, and this isn’t required for all books, as clearly the entertainment value was not lacking.
There is a whole lot of crazy in these characters, as well as some exceptionally creative plot lines that challenge conventional wisdom. This had me curious about Marrs’ other books and what unique perspectives they may offer, so halfway through The One I took a trip to his Goodreads Author page, where I promptly added all of his books to my queue, haha. I’m not sure when I think I’m going to read all of the thousands of books on my growing TBR list, but I digress.
The themes offered throughout, however succinct in their delivery, are surrounding love, manipulation, desperation, mental illness, and revenge. Although you won’t find any earth-shattering quotes to pin up on your mirror, the writing is sound and the flow is smooth. I’m going to give this one a 4.5 peaches, with that half a peach remaining for the loss I felt of not being invited to know the characters and their motivations more keenly.
So, the next time you find yourself in the dreaded reading rut, give this one a go, it will blow your mind!
This is the DNA Strand bookmark I was inspired to make after reading The One.