Book Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

Back Cover Description: In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
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. . .

For every title I review I do write my synopsis before I go on to the review. But I tried my hands on this and I realized writing my own synopsis would give out so many spoilers I wish to keep to myself. The book’s back cover description is just enough to keep you starved for more.

I liked this title.

Fresh, new, quirky storyline that would keep your brow lifted throughout (might want to get that eye firming cream you’ve been putting off for long). It’s chick-lit in a world where feminists are banned from existing, where the ability to survive is thanks to several flicks of mascara, where the fattest you could get is less than a Kim Kardashian (––Meghan Trainor can go suck her bass), where the only asset is your beauty and anyone with less fortunate looks is cast aside. Beautiful storyline! ──

Freida is a well-developed character. Imagine yourself in high-school, less-confident, always wondering if you are fat enough, trying to stay out of way of the mean girls and looking for ways to step up into the spotlight even if you are considered by most too boring. Much like we adults, always that niggling doubt you are not perfect enough, thin enough, hot enough when others outside your body see you and wonder what you’ve got to be worried about if you are not contending with a quadruple chin. I could see lots of teenage girls relating to her so. A star to her. ── ★★

I found this book suspenseful. Especially the countdown to when the ‘boys’ come and you find yourself asking ‘so what now?’ after their appearance halfway through the book, then you realize the fun doesn’t stop there. Lots of surprise moments. ── ★★★

I did love the hi-tech fictional environment O’Neill created. A world that leaves the reader thinking lots of what-ifs. A very thought-provoking read touching on lessons of feminism, sexism, body image issues, and other issues I could bring up but serve as huge spoilers. ── ★★★★

I’m really not sure how I should categorize this book. But the string of what ifs I kept asking myself made it fantastical (without being over-the-top absurd), and besides sheer entertainment I kept wondering if the writer meant it satirical (Calling on all book clubs!).

I do see a movie to this title receiving much popularity amongst teens hitting the high ranks of the Twilights and Hunger games-es

My rating: Four-stars (4/5 stars).

Louise O’Neill’s great debut (and should there be a sequel?) is available on amazon.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants something different, anyone who wants to immense themselves in a world that keeps them squinting into the distance in thought, anyone who wants the next controversial title to be centrepiece in their book club discussions.

My work not done here. Off to post my review on Goodreads.

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