The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders
Published October 1st, 2018
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all.
In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.
She has an identical twin sister, Mira.
For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.
Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.
My rating: 4/5 stars
What initially stood out to me about The Rule of One was how frighteningly similar the world of secret twins Ava and Mira is to our world, specifically the Southern American society I grew up in. This plot, while based in science fiction and dystopia, felt like it could take place tomorrow. This feeling of proximity to our world sucked me in from the first page: I knew this book was relevant and important.
I also applaud the Saunders sisters for tackling a genre and topic matter that is typically riddled with tropes. Their take on the one-child rule paid homage to past twin-based fiction without reading like a direct copy. There were the tried-and-true elements that we all know and love, such as the classic one-twin-in-the-basement-while-the-other-is-at-school logistical element, but they gave new twists and elements that I didn’t see coming. Ava and Mira’s life on the run wasn’t romanticized: they struggled with starvation, dehydration, and all the things that people on the lam would battle. Their journey wasn’t a dashing adventure: it was a struggle for survival, for outlasting the system, for righting wrongs.
Their particular form of rebellion, deciding to run rather than fight, was totally believable at first, but as the narrative progressed, it descended into that dystopian place we all know and love: we, teenage girls, shall rebel against the system that did us dirty by being the faces of a revolution. While I understand that this is one of the only places you can take a novel like this, it seemed incredibly cliché and expected. That was pretty much the scope of the novel: a fresh, intriguing twist on a tired concept that slowly melted into everyone’s favorite trope-filled ending.
Regardless of the plot, I enjoyed the Saunders sister’s writing style. (Sorry, my English major is showing, and I have to gush about their writing style.) Their use of metaphor and placement of critical, powerful lines have stuck with me as I’ve moved onto other books. Their writing was simple and poignant, but they dropped important, thought-provoking lines at just the right moments that made me sit back and go damn, that was good. My only complaint about the writing was in the lack of variability between Ava and Mira: their voices read as the same. While they are identical twins from the same household, they have different minds and opinions. I would’ve liked the chance to understand Ava and Mira as individuals, not just in relation to each other.
Overall, I highly recommend The Rule of One. It’s a quick read with a powerful message: do we have to power to dictate who gets to stay, and if we do, who gives it to us?
Have you read The Rule of One? What are your most anticipated fall and winter releases?