The Only Boy is a Dystopian novel based one hundred years from today's society. All men have contracted an illness throughout all species killing what was believed to be all the males on the planet. The illness is not communicable, it originates from within the men and very few women develop symptoms. In compounds spread around the world women inseminate pregnancies to reproduce, and those born are only female. Men are feared as disease spreading plagues and the world thought better without them.
Mary's compound accepts the sole survivor of an Earther attack on a compound not far from hers as one of their own and always what they believe to be a female teen to live with them. Taylor, the surviving compound member, finds his new home to be severely different from the home he was accustomed to. Members of the compound are denied the ability to touch, even mothers with their own children are unable to touch for fear of spreading the illness if one of them were likely to contract it, they own no possessions, they are taught only what is deemed appropriate by the Matriarch lacking any knowledge of men or species believed to be extinct, and they are fiercely punished for misbehavior.
Taylor's previous home allowed touch, where his mother hugged him often. Their learning was uninhibited and they farmed their own food, unlike the new compound where they eat only canned foods left over from before "The Cleansing" of the men. Taylor has to hide who, and what, he is for fear of death, but out of desire for truth and freedom he reveals to Mary that he is a boy and that he plans to run away.
After learning that her life has been a lie, that there are men still in the world, people can touch without fear of the illness, that life is safe outside the compound, Mary wants to go with him. Through a series of kidnappings, by both Compound watch women trying to return Mary to their home and Earthers trying to protect their way of life, Mary and Taylor uncover the truth about The Cleansing and the attacks on the compounds.
On review sites I've given The Only Boy a 4 star rating, I disagree that it should be 3 stars but it should be more of a 3.5. I won't round down to a full 3. The story is written in first person dialogue and has a very personal, diary like feel to it. We hear and see through the thoughts and actions of the characters as the chapters move back and forth between Mary and Taylor, each misreading each others actions on several occasions. The tone is very dark and desolate, the very emotion drawn from the two main characters through a hard life and for Mary through the lack of affection and physical contact throughout her life. The only thing missing from the first person point of view in this book is the action of doing something. The characters look and see and do but they are never doing. I would have liked to read a more active interaction of characters where someone was running through the woods rather than saying 'I run through the woods'. I am highly curious how canned foods have lasted for so many years after society fell. It seems they would have run out well before one hundred years unless I mis-read the time frame.
Either way, the story is very unique and intriguing. I enjoyed seeing through another's eyes and getting to understand the way actions and words can be misconstrued between a boy and a girl. At times you can almost imagine it's you in the book, remembering an experience of a world after society. The Only Boy is a well thought out novel delivering suspense and intrigue to the readers delight.