Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

I kind of remember when this was published last summer, mainly due to the Barbie head cover but also because of the acclaim it received. It was on my TBR list but I never got round to pursuing it. Now, with the re-release of this book for adults (it was originally packaged as YA), and offers for film rights, I finally had to see what the fuss is about. 

Sixteen year old best friends freida and isabel are in their final year of the School, an institution where designed females are raised and shaped for their future role in society. 

Women can be one of three things; a companion (wife and mother to the male elite), a concubine (a source of pleasure for the male elite) or a chastity (nun-like women responsible for training at the School.) 

Most girls are aiming to be a companion and their routines involve intensive dieting, beauty regimes, fashion schooling and gym work outs in order to be the best that they can be. When the girls finally meet their potential future mates, the competition kicks up a gear, and freida fights desperately to secure her future, even if it means betraying the best friend she has been through so much with. T

his is an original take on a dystopian future where, in a male dominated society, females can no longer be born naturally and so they are engineered to be perfect and are expected to maintain the high standards as dictated by the elusive Father figure. 

Lots of issues arise in this book and in today’s current climate where certain ideals of how women should look are always in the media and ‘body shaming’ headlines often make the news, novels like this have never been more relevant. 

The lengths the girls in the book go to in the quest to be perfect go to the extremes and it’s not just the measures they employ for themselves, but their impact on each other that really makes the tale quite scary. Even in real life, very female intense environments can be a breeding ground for criticism and provocation, and this book takes that to the max!

 freida and isabel’s friendship is the ongoing thread in the book and it is tested many times over in the course of events, and the ending was a complete OMG moment. I really enjoyed the entire premise of the book and the delivery is clever and startlingly scary. 

A captivating and inventive exploration of female friendship, identity and gender roles, Only Ever Yours is a great book that should definitely be on your reading list this summer. 

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