So. Rewind to summer of 2012. I'm an intern at a literary agency in Manhattan, and I'm sitting at the intern table, reading queries, like any other afternoon, when the agent I work for pops over and says "hey Caitlin, I have this manuscript I'd like you to take a look at. The author emailed to say she had interest from another agent. It's YA, are you interested?" And, well, yes, of course I was.
That manuscript was ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans. And I devoured it that day at work. ONE is the story of Merrin Grey, a sixteen-year-old girl with half a superpower when most Supers have two. For instance, Merrin can float, but she doesn't have that second superpower that would allow her to push the air around her and fly. And Merrin, organic chemistry genius that she is, is determined to fix her One-ness.
Guys. This book is awesome. I knew immediately upon starting it just how awesome it was. I probably made a terrible report to my agent about it later (sorry Leigh Ann), since she asked me what I liked about it and I had to think of coherent things to say instead of just "uh... everything... I like just about everything, really... yeah..." Leigh Ann eventually signed with the other agent in question, however, so I think everything will work out nicely in her favor.
ONE has all the makings of a great YA book. Fantastically intriguing sci-fi premise? Check. Reverse chosen-one thing for the protagonist? Check. Weird government conspiracy? Check. Excellent romance? OH MAN CHECK.
My favorite thing about this book, though, both during that first read-through and now, is Merrin herself. There are so, SO many sci-fi and fantasy YA books that I've read where the romance is the be-all and end-all of both the character and the story. Where the female protagonist is defined by her love of the wonderful, charming, handsome love interest. And Merrin is so very much not that kind of girl. There is a scene in the book in which she decides she can't lean on Elias, the love interest (who is an interesting, flawed, sweet character in his own right), until she can stand on her own two feet and I think I actually shouted "YES!!!" while I was reading that. In the office. (And even now, I grinned like an idiot on the bus rereading it.)
Merrin is exactly the kind of girl I'd like to see more of in YA novels - a girl not necessarily averse to falling in love, but one who knows that she shouldn't compromise herself in order to do that. She refuses to let Elias be her whole world - a big part of it, an important part, yes, but not ALL of it - even though just being with Elias will QUITE LITERALLY solve ALL OF HER PROBLEMS for her. But she wants to solve them herself. She wants to be her own person, not just an extension of someone she loves.
Leigh Ann is a fantastic writer - you can really tell just how much work and how much love she's put into this book - and someone I am glad to call my friend. Trust me, guys. You want to listen to this story she has to tell.
ONE comes out on June 11th. I'm so so super excited for Leigh Ann and I can't wait for it to get all the recognition it so richly deserves.