Book Review | The Special Ones by Em Bailey

Esther is one of the four Special Ones, chosen to live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. They are not allowed to leave, and they must always be ready to broadcast their lives to eager followers on the outside.

But on renewal day when he decides that a new Esther, Harry, Lucille or Felicity must take their place, the old ones disappear – forever. The new ones don’t always want to come, but soon they… realise. Until one day Esther has a realisation of her own, and it changes everything.


I think I may be in-love with Em Bailey’s second novel, The Special Ones.

This might be the first creepy/psychological thriller I have read this year. It’s all kinds of crazy, and I love it! The Special Ones is about a cult, and their obsessed cult leader who watches the Special Ones every single move.

The characters were definitely intriguing. That you can’t help wonder who they really are. Bearing in mind that The Special Ones were collected from their previous lives and taken into the farm to take their place as said title, you can never know who they really. The most intriguing character of all was him, we were never really given a name – and I think that’s what made this even creepier. The antagonist was always referred to by simply, him and nothing more. It was interesting to read how his mind worked, and how he operated. He believed so much in this little fantasy that he has created, and was so obsessed with the idea of The Special Ones that it has driven him to do all this sort of things. I think, he is a prime example of one of the scariest psychopaths you could ever encounter, the ones who believes so much in the delusion and fantasy they have made that they see nothing wrong with it.

The novel is written in the first person perspective, and is split between Esther (one of the Special Ones) and him. It gives the effect of being able to simultaneously be an observer, and also engage with what is happening in the characters life. It worked really well in also showing the thought pattern and emotion of the person’s perspective. For instance, Esther always shows a calm and collected demeanour; however, as you read from her perspective, you are inside her head and it is made clear that she does this to survive and to avoid renewal. As for him, it simply shows how his mind works.

Bailey was able to keep a sense of mystery in her novel, even when she has changed from the victims POV to the perpetrator’s. I mean, I was ready to shout out cliché and predictable at the top of my lungs when I started reading this novel. But, she just kept you guessing.

Overall, it is quite a unique novel as far as I am concerned. I can’t really compare it to any other YA novels that I have read. It does have a big-brother-esque kind of feeling to it, what with all the cameras and always being watched feeling that the characters have, that you end up feeling too.


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