Waudby plunges the reader dramatically into a dystopian society when the story begins with an explosion in an Underground station. K, an orphaned teenage girl who lives with her grandmother, is rescued from the scene by Oskar, who uses his charm to gradually persuade her to infiltrate The Brotherhood by attending one of their boarding schools. Beguiled by Oskar – and by the chance to develop her artistic talents – K agrees. She takes on the persona of Verity Nekton, the daughter of Brotherhood members who were killed when The Strife began.
K was raised Citizen, so her placement – and her mission, to find and report Brotherhood activists-is both difficult and dangerous. She enters the school with her long-held prejudices in place but finds that her fellow students are not monsters, bent on domination of society at all costs, but likeable people. When she falls in love with Greg, her resolve to stop working for Oskar hardens. When he discovers her feelings her life-and the lives of The Brotherhood friends she has come to care for-is in danger so she resolves to isolate herself, breaking off her relationship with Greg.When he comes to find her they combine to fight Oskar and his hatred of The Brotherhood and narrowly escape with their lives.
This is undoubtably a love story, with all the usual ingredients. However, it is far more than that: it is a fable about belonging, of seeing beyond shallow categorisations, of recognising people for who they really are. One of Us is, without doubt, a thrilling read which builds with a slow burn, but it is also a thought-provoking story about the nature of society and those within it.