ONE Review: Gripping tale of sacrifice, deceit and awakening in a climate-ravaged world

ONE by Eve Smith, acclaimed author of Off Target (read the review here), takes readers on a gripping journey through a not-too-distant future marred by the devastating consequences of climate change and a resource crisis.

Set in Britain, a nation seeking salvation from catastrophe turns to the ONE political party and backs its hardline one-child policy as a means of population control. This policy divides the country and tensions rise between those who embrace the party’s vision, perceiving life under strict rationing as a noble sacrifice for the greater good, and those who question its true intentions.

Kai, a young believer in the new order, works as a ‘baby reaper’ and is responsible for enforcing the one-child law. In a society where all women capable of bearing a child are implanted with smart birth control devices, Kai’s duty is to monitor the devices and hunt down illegal pregnancies and enforce their termination.

However, when Kai stumbles upon evidence suggesting her own family may have violated the law, she embarks on a race against time to uncover the truth before the secret gets out. As she searches, she delves deeper into a dark rabbit hole, gradually realising that the foundations of the regime she once revered may be far from pure.

ONE is an unflinching and thought-provoking novel that explores sensitive and triggering topics such as abortion and post-natal depression with both sensitivity and raw honesty. Eve Smith does not shy away from the weight of the characters’ decisions, presenting them bluntly and immersing the reader in the reality of their consequences.

At its core, ONE presents a compelling extrapolation of a society grappling with the devastating effects of climate change and scarce resources. Smith subtly scrutinises the compromises individuals are willing to make when faced with such dire circumstances and the toll these sacrifices take on their humanity.

While not strictly a political thriller, the novel hinges around government corruption and profiteering, and Smith adeptly shines the same uncompromising light on the themes of immigration and asylum, approaching them with compassion and understanding, offering a nuanced view of the complex landscape and leaving judgement to the readers’ own mind.

ONE by Eve Smith is out 20 July from Orenda Books

Get it on Apple Books

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