Book Review: The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

* I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won't invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie's rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn't interested in rehabilitation, not when she's still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie's whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she's ever met. Ben's life isn't easy, but he doesn't see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn't have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she's currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie's new favourite band, who just happens to be Ben's brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future... before she loses everything she has grown to love.

Image copyright: Marci Lyn Curtis / Disney-Hyperion
On Goodreads, I gave this book a 4-star rating. If given the option, I'd easily have rated it 4.5 stars. But I just couldn't bring myself to give it the full 5 stars.

As you'll know by now if you're a regular reader of The Writing Greyhound, it's very rare for me to give a book a 5-star rating. It's even rarer for me to give a 1-star rating, but that's a whole different story. To put it into perspective, to date I've read 440 books. Of those, only 24 have made it onto my prestigious Goodreads favourites shelf. So if my maths is right (which it probably isn't - maths was never my strong point) that works out at about 1 book in every 18 I read. Then consider that I average about 30 books a year (although recently that number has been increasing). Taking that into account, on average only 1-2 books a year will make it onto my favourites shelf.

So what does all that mean?

In short, it means a book has to be really really good to get on my favourites shelf. And sadly, The One Thing didn't quite make the grade.

Something missing

That's not to say it wasn't good or I didn't enjoy it, because I did. And it was good - achieving a 4.5-star rating is pretty damn good in its own right. There was just something missing which made me hesitate over that final half-star.

But what was it? That's the tricky part. In most books I can put my finger directly on the parts I didn't like, but for some reason it's a lot harder with this one. Maybe it was because the main character, Maggie, grated on my nerves at times. Maybe it was because we never really got down to the reason behind why Maggie could see certain people. Maybe it was because the pace didn't seem exactly right to me. Or, more likely, it was a combination of all three.

But that's enough negativity for the time being.

Full of suspense

I really loved the concept. It was new, unique and exciting, and that reason alone really got me hooked on the story. It was one of those books I had to finish reading before I could move on with my life - the suspense was killing me! It was a mixture of the romantic suspense between Maggie and Mason, in conjunction with the suspense of all the other elements of the story all wrapped up together. It seemed that virtually every element of the story was a ticking time-bomb just waiting to be set off at the first opportunity and, predictably, they all got set off at the same time. That made for a really intense ending!

On the flipside, parts of the story were so beautifully written - subtly conveying the strong emotions that held the story together. There were two parts in particular where I started to well up - the incident with the dog, and the climax of the story at the hospital. It's impossible to explain these more without giving away spoilers, so you'll have to read it yourself to find out what I mean.

Breaking disability stereotypes

Although Maggie had her irritating moments, on the whole I really enjoyed her story. The way Curtis writes allowed me to see the world from a blind person's point of view. A bit of an oxymoron I know, but as a sighted person you don't always think about how even the most everyday mundane tasks would become near-impossible if you lost your sight. Plus the friendship between Maggie and Ben was really sweet. At first I was worried I was going to find Ben little more than an annoying plot device, necessary only to allow Maggie access to Mason. But as it turned out, I ended up really liking him. The fact that he isn't defined by his disability was lovely to see, as was his maturity for his age. The scene towards the end where the brothers take Maggie to see the stars was just so incredibly touching and sweet, and for that I couldn't help but love Ben.

The good parts of the book far outweigh my few slight criticisms, and this is definitely looking like one of the best YA books to be released this autumn. Also, look out for Marci Lyn Curtis - I'm expecting to read a lot more from her in the future.

Rating: 4 stars.

The One Thing is available to pre-order now.

Will you be reading The One Thing? Let me know in the comments below!

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