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Wednesday 30 August 2017

‘The One’ by John Marrs

Published by Penguin Random House.
4 May 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-78-503562-3

What a great premise for a world set in the very near future: it’s recently been discovered that everyone has a gene that’s shared with only one other in the world, and that person is their true love Match. This has the effect of changing the developed world, as more and more men and women take the simple DNA test to discover their Match, and don’t consider a serious relationship with anyone else. It leads to the prospect of a happy-ever-after scenario for the majority and the prospect of a divorce-free world in the future. But in the meantime it also leads to a lot of divorces and broken relationships, as people break up to go and be with their Match, so not everyone is happy.

Throughout the novel we follow five characters, two men and three women. As with any multiple viewpoint novel where viewpoints swop over with every (short) chapter, at first this is disorienting and the opposite of involving. However, all the very individual stories soon catch hold, and after that it becomes a race to see what happens. It’s not a book I’d like to only be able to give 5 minutes a day to – I needed to speed through.

Unashamedly commercial with those short chapters, the book’s plotting was clever as the storylines constantly threw up surprises and unexpected developments; the situations were each original and evolved in what felt like very credible ways, at least for most of the way through. To be honest, my only reservation was how two of the storylines played out at the very end, which I didn’t quite buy, but that’s possibly more a matter of personal taste than indicative of any flaw in the novel. Intriguingly, the storylines for the two characters whose situations I had felt least empathy for at the beginning, Mandy and Nick, were the most original and had the most satisfying denouements.

So where does the crime come in? The most obvious is with one of the characters, Christopher, who’s a serial killer. We discover this very early on, so that’s not a spoiler. And intriguingly, he is Matched with Amy, a police detective. Juicy stuff, and if there’s one thing that can be said of this author, he maximises the inventive opportunities he gives himself. Given the confines of the style of this novel, the characters are well drawn and defined – for the book to work effectively we have to be interested in each of the five personalities, and I certainly was, even if I didn’t inhabit them fully. The varied settings are competent too. But it’s the story that carries this intriguing novel, and the way it is told. I enjoyed the ride.
Reviewer: Dea Parkin

John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines. He has written for publications including The Guardian's Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World's Sunday Magazine. His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.
In May 2017 came his third book, The One. It was chosen as the book of the month for BBC Radio 2's Book Club. The Wronged Sons was re-edited and re-released in July 2017 under a new title, When You Disappeared.And his fourth book, The Good Samaritan, is set for release in November 2017.

DeaParkin  is an editor with her consultancy Fiction Feedback and is also Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association. She writes poetry and occasionally re-engages with The Novel. When she isn't editing, managing or writing she is usually to be found on the tennis court – or following the international tour at home on TV. Usually with several books on the go, she entertains a penchant for crime fiction, history, and novels with a mystical edge. She is engaged in a continual struggle to find space for bookshelves and time for her friends and her cat.

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