As I've mentioned before, I don't do a lot of book reviews on here. Sure, I'll mention a book I happened to particularly love, but I don't go around requesting ARCs and participating in book releases because I don't like advertising something unless I really believe in it. Besides, I rarely read something if it doesn't interest me. Too many books, too little time.
Leigh Ann Kopan's and her debut novel, ONE, are a different story. Leigh Ann was in the query trenches at the same time I was last year, but unlike me, she went on to get an agent from one of the contests she participated in. The fact that she had her own stack of rejections and kept on truckin' inspired me, and I loved her blog and her personality. Then, when ONE didn't sell to a publisher, she went ahead and decided to self publish, something I find incredibly brave. So I was thrilled when I won a copy of ONE from Leigh Ann's blog a couple months back.
Here's the synopsis for ONE:
Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly, or even drift along like a freaking ghost - too bad all she can do is float up and down. When almost everyone else is a Super, with at least two powers, or a Normal, with none, being a One is the worst kind of in-between.
All Merrin has ever wanted is to land an internship at the Biotech Hub. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over news of Hub President Fisk’s experiments, hoping she can get close enough to his research on the manifestations of superpowers to finally figure out how to fix herself.
Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other. Merrin’s over the moon - Elias is as good at kissing as he is at helping her fly. Better yet, her mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub’s internship short list.
But when the Hub kidnaps Elias, Merrin discovers The Hub’s sick experiments could take away even their measly single powers - Fisk’s interest in Ones like them might even be lethal. If she stands up to Fisk, she not only risks Elias’s life, she’ll also destroy her chances of ever finding a way to fly solo – of ever being more than a One.
And the insanely gorgeous cover:
I'm gonna come right out and say one thing off the bat: I do not love sci-fi. I've read a few sci-fi novels, including my own brilliant CP's, and they just don't really do it for me. I loved Ender's Game and I was a fan of Firefly, but I prefer fantasy and urban fantasy to straight-up sci-fi, especially if it gets really bogged down in the science part. My mind kind of zones out and I tend to skim, and then I'm like, "Wait, what? How did that happen?" and it's my own fault because I wasn't paying attention.
So ONE was going to have a hard time winning me over, because I'd read the synopsis and super-heroes aren't really my bag. But then I read the first chapter on Leigh Ann's blog and changed my mind. I LOVED Leigh Ann's description of Merrin from the start - she's small and feisty and unique (physical character descriptions are one of Leigh Ann's strongsuits in my opinion). And then we meet Elias, who is all tall and sparkly-eyed, and I loved him too. So even though I had to force myself not to get lost in the science-y parts, I had two amazing main characters to pull me through.
I also loved the way Leigh Ann handled the romance aspect of ONE. It's something I struggle with, but Leigh Ann manages to make Merrin and Elias's relationship realistic because it's not the over-the-top Twilight kind of love (which isn't always a bad thing, but wouldn't have fit with this story). It's got the right amount of angst and desire and is always true to the characters.
I like the idea of a character with a fierce sense of independence and determination discovering that she actually HAS to rely on someone else to get the one thing she wants most in the world, and how she learns to cope with that and come to love this other person not because he completes her, but in spite of it.
Unlike a few of the self-pubbed novels I've read, it's immediately clear that Leigh Ann can WRITE. I'll never understand how some books make it to the big publishers and others get passed by, but it seems like for Leigh Ann, everything has worked out pretty darn well anyway. Congrats to Leigh Ann on all of her success. It is so well deserved! And if you haven't already read ONE, go check it out for yourself!