A morbidly alluring and enticingly unique fiction on a well-known global issue

There usually comes a time when readers wish to read a story not just for the entertainment or thrills or romance or any of the other elements found in various genres. They are looking for something deeper, something more philosophical, something that really makes them ponder over current events or issues in the world today. Readers need look no further than author Craig DiLouie’s One of Us. While he focuses on a well-known issue that has been covered numerous times in books as well as in movies, DiLouie has taken this common global subject and has put his own unique twist to it.

The plague children are looked down upon due to their genetic mutations and are treated like dirt. They are forced to reside in a home that acts more like a prison and are forced to take part in laborious work, told that this exhausting work is all they will be good at and that they will never amount to anything. These children did not ask for their mutations and they did not ask to be called “freaks” and “monsters”. They just want to live like normal people do and to have the freedom to be who they wish to be. However, that tempting “want” over the years has turned into an overpowering “need” and, come 1984, the plague children may just become the monsters society has always deemed them to be.

Yes, judging people due to abnormalities or appearances or a number of other reasons is a topic that has been touched upon many times, but it is a very important issue many people, especially in today’s society, seem to forget about. In today’s world, it is all about how someone looks or acts. If one does not look or act a certain way, then they are deemed abnormal. This is absolutely not right and incredibly unfair, yet it gets worse with each passing year. One of Us is a fiction that covers the issue of wanting acceptance and judging others, yet if readers believe they are picking up a story that reads like the X-Men, think again. DiLouie has created a fictional world that is more real than authors have dared to write in quite some time, making it the next book readers should make a point to pick up and read next.

How real it reads is what makes One of Us so morbidly alluring and enticingly unique. Unlike popular culture of today, DiLouie gave the children genetic mutations that are more realistic sounding and believable, such as telepathy, intelligence, and strength among many other abilities. As for their appearances, the children were described in a way that could make readers see them as oddities that would be found within one of P.T. Barnum’s freak shows. A very unique spin the story covers is how many plague children there are. While the “freaks” and “monsters” found in other fictional stories and even in Barnum’s real show were few in number, DiLouie made it where one in every three humans born was infected by this genetic plague. Having so many raises many government and societal issues that DiLouie covers rather accurately.

Due to these new issues DiLouie speculated would arise, readers should be prepared for the story they are about to enter into will most certainly offer a roller coaster of a ride to read through. There are many ups and downs for the children within the book, both plague and normal, as well as for the adults. Readers will find themselves liking some characters, hating others, sympathizing with most, and not caring what happens to a few. Life is hard for all of the characters and becomes harder with each passing chapter and DiLouie is one of the brave authors out there who allows tragedy to befall any of his characters, thus leading to some fairly dark scenes in the story. Dark, but honest, DiLouie focuses on a question through his characters that has not been written about as well as Mary Shelley wrote in her Frankenstein: Who is the real monster? DiLouie does a phenomenal job arguing both sides of the spectrum and will have readers indecisive on whose side they are on. The readers will have to decide who they sympathize with more, but it most certainly is a tricky choice, just like choosing between Victor Frankenstein and his creation, for here is where One of Us truly makes the reader think and question: What if both parties are equally monstrous? If both sides are the monster, how can one possibly chose a side?

Real, honest, even at times heartbreaking, One of Us is the story to read for those who wish for that next deep and philosophical read. DiLouie has impressed by taking a morbid issue that has been touched upon many times and made it into an alluringly realistic fiction. It is a story that will make readers think about how we as human beings view one another and how society has a way of corrupting our perception. It is a story that will take readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions. It is also a story that will make it difficult for readers to decide which characters they will side with. For those who are looking for a story that offers more than the norm other genres offer, look no further than DiLouie’s latest novel. With its message and insight on a common global issue, One of Us would make an excellent book club choice for it is most certainly a story for readers to discuss upon completion.

Originally published at rolloutreviews.com on August 28, 2018.



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Alicia Smock

Alicia Smock

Reader, writer, reviewer, and future editor. Looking at life with hope and happiness, no matter what happens.