“I like your voice,” she said. “Your real one.”
There’s something about Justine Avery’s The One Apart that sort of throws you off kilter. I don’t even think I can fully describe it. The feeling is sort of in the middle, as though you could go one way or the other with it and you’ve no idea which really fits. Avery tells the tale of a soul called Tres who is suddenly born to a teenage mother, living a new life while still remembering each of his previous ones. The book chronicles his life and the danger of the one “apart” as the world is threatened. It’s a beautiful imagining of just what is beyond our realm of understanding and ultimately left me feeling rather intrigued.
The One Apart is not the novel you’d expect. At every turn I was left with more questions, and admittedly a bit of confusion at times. The novel starts out strong with incredibly real characters and the most fascinating conundrum of an infant who defies logic as he recalls the lives he’d lived before. I blew through the first half of the book, unable to put it down and determined to learn more about Tres–or Aaron as he is called in his new life–and the strange things he faces that hold a sort of ominous feel to them.
Unfortunately, the eager manner in which I had devoured page after page ebbed immensely as I reached the middle of the novel. I’ll give Avery credit for originality since the story takes us on a journey that I’ve personally never experienced before with a book, but I found that even originality wasn’t enough to keep me engaged. I found myself almost mirroring Tres in the amount of interest I took in his life, realizing that the life he was disengaging from was the one I wanted to read about. Each chapter began to feel repetitive as Tres himself required the repetition in his lessons.
It just got dull.
Fortunately, the story and plot picked up quite a bit as I neared the end, and I enjoyed the climax well enough. While I never did fully return to the degree of interest I felt at the beginning, perhaps due to the fact that I no longer had questions I felt I needed answered, the tale ended satisfactorily. I don’t think anything really disappointed me and there were a few moments I felt extrordinarily impressed by various plot points.
At the end of the day Avery is a masterful writer even if the story wasn’t entirely for me. I would definitely recommend giving this book a shot if you’re interested.