Sunday, 25 October 2015

Book Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

Read: October 23-25   Verdict: 4 Stars

Set in a dystopian future, Only Ever Yours is narrated by frieda, a 16-year-old girl living in a world where baby girls are no longer born, they're created. Growing up in a school where she's constantly told how to be pretty, and skinny, and how to please a man by doing whatever they ask, whenever they want it. The reader meets frieda and her 'sisters', the other Eves, a few months away from the Ceremony - an event where they will either become Companions (wives), Concubines (prostitutes) or chastities (nun-like teachers). As the Ceremony draws nearer, frieda started to unravel.
This book is terrifyingly real. Everything the Eves are taught, mimic the unconscious message that's constantly put across in today's society. Fat is ugly. Skinny is pretty. But you can't be too skinny or else you're undesirable. A girl shouldn't say no to a guy, but saying yes mean's you're a slut. Saying no means you're frigid. The other girls are your friends. But they're also your enemies.

I couldn't help but feel that this book was not going to have a happy ending. The whole tone of the book is desperate and remorse, and frieda flicks back and forth from being reliable to an unreliable narrator, depending on how much SleepSound she's taking. I really wanted her to do well, and become independent of isabel and megan, and not need that constant reassurance from everyone. Again and again, frieda let everyone down but it was almost like she was programmed to do it. I really wanted more from Darwin or any of the other guys but at the end of the day, the girls were just meat to them, as they had been taught they were.

I thought it was a really interesting and smart decision of Louise O'Neill to take away the girls' capital letter in their names. It was one more subtle way of taking away their power and making them second-class citizens. They were 'unworthy' of having a capital letter in their name.

I wouldn't be surprised if in 5 years or more, this book appeared on required reading alongside The Handmaid's Tale. It almost feels like a sequel to Margaret Atwood's modern classic. While this is not comfortable reading, I would certainly recommend it as it's a fascinating read.

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