The world in which The One takes place is almost identical to ours except for one major difference. Some years before, science isolated a gene that each person will only share with one other, their Match. When these two people meet, sparks fly and Cupid, either straight from the off or just a little later, shoots his arrow and they fall madly, deliriously into lust and love. Kisses lead to explosions rippling through bodies, chemicals react and it’s something they’ll never experience with anyone else.
The DNA matching has revolutionised dating and over a billion have paid up to discover who they’re meant to be with. It has created countless blissfully happy couples. But it’s not without problems. It doesn’t matter about age (if you’re over the minimum requirement to apply for your match result), or sexuality or location. Matches have ripped marriages apart, destroyed lives and caused chaos. Marrs’ tale follows a few people who have paid for their match reveal, and what happens after they meet. Understandably, Marrs is not interested in those that live happily ever after. The individuals he follows have stories that include treachery, deceit and that darkest of crimes, murder.
There’s been a recent wave of success for authors of twisting, turning thrillers that frequently have a didn’t-see-that-coming twist in the tale. To a degree, The One could slot in with those novels. But under that cover, Marrs has some grander questions to ponder. Each short, punchy chapter follows one of the five characters the book focuses on and ends on a new revelation or twist in the tale. Marrs has taken the time to make each character reasonably plausible and ensures there’s an internal logic to the threads. Characters don’t necessarily make the decisions you expect them to, but what they do makes sense for them. Within the structure of his book, Marrs is contemplating questions about what makes us who we are, how we find those that we choose to spend our lives with, and what would happen if that was a choice we no longer had.
He wraps up those big themes in a fascinating thriller based in a very real now that spins out from one giant science fiction ‘what if’. It’s not entirely unpredictable in where it goes, but even if you anticipate a twist or two there’ll be another and another straight after it that draws you right back in. He doesn’t dwell on the science (which is good as he doesn’t spin in circles trying to explain the unexplainable) and some of the twists don’t really work or are too contrived. But overall, it’s a furiously paced, compelling and hugely entertaining novel which comes recommended.
THE ONE / AUTHOR: JOHN MARRS / PUBLISHER: DEL REY / RELEASE DATE: MAY 4TH