Book Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Working in a library I am constantly finding new books to read but it has been awhile since I have read a book that has really gripped me! One that has made me feel every emotion under the sun including annoyance, frustration, even awe!
I just knew once I had finished this book I would have to review it! For those of you who haven't read it the synopsis is:

'Freida and Isabel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions - wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative - life as a concubine - is too horrible to contemplate. But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty - her only asset - in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future - even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known..'

Set in a dystopian future where the population has decreased rapidly due to rising sea levels wiping out nations and many people. Women are no longer born they are created and designed genetically to be 'perfect'. From their 'design date' they are brought up separate from the male species and spend their school life being trained to become either a companion (wife) or concubine (a woman who exists purely to give men sexual favours). Basically reverting women back to a time where equal rights did not exist and a woman's main focus was to assist men in any form.

As the book quotes often 'There is always room for improvement'

While being set in the future the story really strikes a chord with modern day describing a society obsessed with vanity and how the people are constantly comparing themselves to each other. A culture where everyone is constantly connected to the internet updating their 'MyFace pages'.

We meet the main character Freida obsessed with being perfect but constantly feeling flawed in comparison to others. Her best friend Isabel has gained weight (eves should not be fat!) and the story shows Freida's constant struggle with wanting to be in the top ten chosen in the selection, yet not quite wanting to let go of her friend Isabel.

The story is very reminiscent of a dystopian 'Mean Girls' and while Isabel is very much a secondary character you find yourself routing for her more than for the main protagonist. 
Frieda is so full of self-doubt and easily led that it is easy for the new number 1 eve Megan to take advantage of her - especially when it seems they are in competition for the same guy.

I finished this book within two days and I have to say it is one I feel everyone should read, the story is so powerful! O'Neill's writing is perfect when it comes to taking themes from culture today and exaggerating them greatly!
 The girls in this story are created to be genetically perfect yet they still do not feel good enough, they still find flaws with themselves. They are constantly comparing themselves to each other even though they are all supposed to be perfect in their own right.
Young girls nowadays are already trying to live up to the unrealistic and unattainable views of what society describes as 'beautiful'. 

That is why this book is so hard hitting it imagines a future where this kind of culture has spun out of control and where the equal rights of women have been abolished. 

This book really stuck with me after I finished it, I could not stop talking about it I recommended it to all of my friends. I really feel it is a modern classic! It's certainly a story that will stick with you.

Thanks for Reading!!

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