UT alumnae twins Ashley and Leslie Saunders, who both graduated in 2010, broke into the young adult fiction genre last year with their debut novel “The Rule of One.” This novel tells the story of twin sisters Mira and Ava Goodwin’s fight for survival in a dystopian Texas, where families are prohibited from having more than one child as an effort to quell overpopulation. Multiples are considered enemies of the state.
In the action-packed sequel “The Rule of Many,” the Goodwin sisters lead the resistance against power-hungry Texas Governor Roth with rebellion group the Common. In numerous cross-country adventures, the Common embarks on rescue missions to save members of the resistance, persuade world leaders to join their cause, free subjugated twins from brutal work camps and uncover secrets from Governor Roth’s questionable past in order to take him down.
As an identical twin, “The Rule of Many” was appealing because of the story’s focus on the relationship between Ava and Mira. Their unbreakable bond and commitment to one another through danger, stress, grief and struggle are central to the plot. In general, the story’s focus on the importance of familial relationships is refreshing. In comparison to young adult novels that focus on the protagonist’s relationship with a significant other, the prioritization of sisterhood in “The Rule of Many” may be a healthier alternative for young women.
The language used when talking about the cause and the resistance can be excessively cliché at some points. For example, members of the Common greet each other with “resist much, obey little,” a phrase that sounds eerily similar to the Target slogan, “Expect more. Pay less.” The rebellion is also frequently presented in metaphors as a spark igniting, flame spreading and wildfire, which may come across as repetitive even to young readers.
The central objective of the Common is to stop the oppression of multiples and save the twins in a world that despises them, separating them from their parents and locking them up in work camps. In a country where similar treatment plagues the children of immigrants entering through the southern border, it was odd that the authors chose to focus the story on the oppression of multiples, which is exceedingly distant from our future and not particularly imaginative.
“The Rule of One” series isn’t the first to create this type of world. Margaret Peterson Haddix’s popular “Shadow Children” series takes place in a world where a third child is forbidden, but the choice to frame twins as victimized scapegoats of society rather than tackle more nuanced topics such as class, race and gender that are relevant to young adult readers today is worth pointing out. “The Rule of Many” tackles a multitude of dark subject matters, and centering that dark subject matter around issues happening today would be more productive.
Nonetheless, “The Rule of Many,” is a thrilling page-turner filled with adventures, heartwarming reunions and shocking twists. Although it fails to tackle relevant topics that would be helpful to young readers, the story is an enjoyable read that demonstrates the importance of family, standing up for what you believe in, and female power.
"The Rule of Many"