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The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer
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The Only Ones (edition 2012)

by Aaron Starmer

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635197,694 (3.8)None
Member:Sarahfine
Title:The Only Ones
Authors:Aaron Starmer
Info:Yearling (2012), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:science fiction, postapocalypse, time travel, upper elementary

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The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer

Recently added byprivate library, cbryanHOA, maribou, ElizabethBevins, karand, moonequalsheart, bluepigeon, diana.n
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    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: A world without adults with some differences and similarities.
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Like most of speculative fiction out there today, you need a good idea. The Only Ones certainly has that. There is a good idea, a situation that baffles everyone, and signals that anything and everything is possible. Once this is set up, the rest can go down however the author wants. So what matters to me becomes the language, the dialog, the "believability" of the everyday interactions of the characters. Starmer's characters are well done, his dialog is stylized enough to keep the plot going but not too much to make you wonder how 10-year-olds are forming such elaborate sentences. The plot requires suspension of belief, of course, and in the end not everything is explained. I say that in a good way, because at some point I thought "Oh, man, he's going to have Martin sit down and explain EVERYthing and we're going to have one of those moments on TV detective shows where they have to explain every little obvious thing to the dumb audience." But he didn't. There's especially the question of "why us?" that was left unexplained, which the reader can, if s/he wishes, use the same logic Martin uses to determine why it might be the way it is. The Only Ones was a good, fast read with some thought-provoking moments. I will recommend it to young-adult and speculative fiction fans. ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
This is a weird, amazing, amazingly weird book. The clearest analog I have is Lost. If you loved Lost (never mind the ending), you will probably love this. (full review at http://www.parenthetical.net/2011/11/24/review-the-only-ones-by-aaron-starmer/) ( )
  SamMusher | Mar 30, 2013 |
Grades 5 and up
A thought-provoking read for the tween crowd, reminiscent of a slightly less violent "Lord of the Flies." Children find themselves alone one day when all of the adults disappear. They create their own community--Xibalba-- complete with trading system and societal rules, and try to create theories to explain what happened to all the adults. Martin has a different story, having been raised with a distant father who instructs him in the maintenance of a mysterious machine. When Martin reaches Xibalba, he finds himself an unwitting leader and bastion of hope for the lonely children. This is a fairly complex read, which inquires about belief systems and the selection of leaders. Several characters die, some at each other's hands. Still, it's within the reach of an upper elementary school student.
  Sarahfine | Jan 24, 2013 |
I'm not going to lie, this is one of the weirdest books I've read in a long time. But here's the thing about weird books...you can't get them out of your head. I finished this book in a day, and haven't stopped thinking about it since. This is one of those books that sucks you in and doesn't let go until the end.

Here's the gist: Martin Maple lives on a remote island with his dad. Together, they have been working on a mysterious machine, whose purpose is never really clear. On his tenth birthday, Martin's father leaves--why doesn't become clear until the end of the book. Martin, who is luckily very self-sufficient, survives on the island alone for a year, during which he doesn't see another human being. On his eleventh birthday, Martin decides to leave the island. During his journey, he sees only one other boy, about the same age as him, until he reaches a mysterious town filled with lonely teens, just like him, called Xibalba.

Normally, I despise when authors break the rules of their own worlds, but somehow it works here. This is a book that will confound and frustrate you, but as weird as that sounds, that is why I liked it. If students enjoy unraveling mysteries and wrestling with ambiguity, this is a great book for them, although I would be wary of giving it to a struggling reader. Starmer, the author, does very little to wrap things up in a nice neat bow, although some questions do get answers by the end. Some of your more isolated students may find common ground with Martin and the other teenagers, who are all loners in one way or another who bond together to survive. Most of all, this is a book for kids who like to think deeply about time, family, and what it means to be alone.

For ages 10 and up. ( )
1 vote ALelliott | Oct 26, 2011 |
I got an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher. I loved the synopsis of the book and was excited to read it. It was an excellent middle grade post-apocalyptic read full of mystery.

Martin Maple lives with his dad on a small island. Him and his dad work on building a machine when it is not summer; when it is summer they deal with the various tourists that show up. That is until one day Martin's dad sails away and is never seen again...and the tourists stop coming. After living a couple of years all by himself on the island Martin decides to go inland where he finds an abandoned earth and the town of Xibalba. Xibalba is run by a bunch of pre-teen kids. All the kids are exceptionally good at something and none of them really miss the rest of humanity. It will be up to Martin to point them towards a higher cause and to help them discover what really happened on Earth and what if it could be fixed?

This was a wonderful book. At first you don't even know it is about the world ending as we know it. Martin is so secluded he doesn't know the difference between humanity being there and not being there. It's an interesting concept and well done in this book.

The town of Xibalba is also an interesting concept. The idea of only children (pre-teens) being left to run things isn't a new one. But the idea that each child left behind is a genius in one particular area is interesting. Add to this the fact that each of the children is interested in their special area so exclusively that a lack of a world and other humans doesn't affect them all that much and the story is even more interesting.

I loved some of the mystery of the history of Xibalba and how Martin had to hunt deeply to piece together all the little clues that he was finding. This story is more of a mystery than anything else. There is some magic and some science fiction, but that takes a back seat to the mystery itself.

The book was very engaging and well written. The mystery behind what happened to Earth really propels the story forward.

Even though I enjoyed that story a lot, there were a few things that I had some issues with as well. First of all Martin lived on the island for over a year all by himself? How did he get food and fresh water? It was something that was glossed over for Martin, but then when you get to Xibalba this issue is dealt with in detail. I would have liked at least a passing comment on how Martin survived all that time. Secondly the characters are never all that engaging; they are okay and some of them are interesting but I never really felt all that involved with them or drawn to them.

The final issue is the ending of the book. When everything is explained about what happened to Earth and how it will be fixed, well, it was kind of confusing and convoluted. I kind of understood what happened, but I had some trouble really picturing it and wished that it had been explained with more clarity.

The book ended well and seems very contained. I would be interested in reading more about Martin, but given the ending I doubt there will be more stories featuring him.

Overall a very good middle grade read. There is a little magic and a little science fiction here, but at its heart this story is a mystery and a very good one. The idea of a town run by children geniuses is intriguing and interesting. The book was generally well-written and engaging. I had some trouble with the inconsistencies around survival issues and none of the characters really captured my heart, but overall it's a great read. This would be a wonderful read to introduce kids to the idea of post-apocalyptic fiction in a way that is subtle and not too scary. Fans of well written mysteries with a little magic and sci-fi should look here. Fans of post-apocalyptic fiction with a more subtle touch to it and a lot of mystery should also give this book a read. ( )
  krau0098 | Sep 5, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385740433, Hardcover)

Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Author Aaron Starmer

The Only Ones started with a simple idea. A boy grows up on an island. He knows nothing of the world beyond the ocean. When he finally builds up the courage to leave the island, he finds the world is gone. Everybody else has disappeared. It was enough to get me writing, but simple ideas rarely stay simple. Soon this empty world had a handful of inhabitants, an extraordinary band of kids with odd talents and obsessions. It was a little bit Lord of the Flies. It was a little bit The Little Rascals. It was a lot different than anything else out there. Famine and disease and war and oppressive governments and natural disasters make for riveting stories, but they had no place in this book. Sure, we were talking about the apocalypse, but there had to be mystery, magic and bouts of emotion. Kids left to rule the earth? How could it be any other way? As an author, I hesitate to give much plot away, but I will make a few promises about The Only Ones. I promise a resolution that's both satisfying and unpredictable. I promise shocking moments, and tender moments, and funny moments. I promise a komodo dragon and a box full of kittens. I promise that if you read the sample chapter and find yourself hooked, then you'll be hooked all the way to the very end. And I promise that you will put the book down and know you have read something entirely unique. When I started this story two years ago, I was hoping it would land in the hands of enthusiastic readers who would spread the word to friends. I still hope that's the case. So the only promise I ask you to make is this: If you read The Only Ones and like it, then tell someone. It will make me forever grateful and undeniably happy. All the best, --Aaron Starmer

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

After setting off from the island where he has been leading a solitary existence, thirteen-year-old Martin discovers a village, Xibalba, peopled with other children who have been living and governing themselves since the grown-ups were all spirited away.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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