Thursday, 8 October 2015

Book Club #22 Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill

Louise O'Neill is a name I am always hearing, be it on twitter, blogs or just people in the street - they can't get enough of her. After feeling out of the loop for too long, I decided to head to my nearest library and grab a copy of Only Ever Yours. Now, let's hear from the blurb...

frieda 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 remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty - her only asset - in peril. And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. 
frieda must fight for her future - even if it means betraying her only friend, the only love, she has ever known...
Doesn't that sound great? Right from the beginning, you're thinking, "why aren't their names in capital letters? Why are they expected to be companions? Beauty is their only asset?!" and immediately need to read and find out what messed up world is this? The entire female population has died out in some freak bizarro world accident, and are now being genetically engineered to become perfect wives - or worse, concubines, also known as 'ladies of the night' if you will. The girls are judged purely on their looks and are shamed if they dare to put on even an ounce of fat with lessons at the school including publicly telling a girl what 'areas of improvements' she could work on and desensitising lessons, to ensure they remain calm and emotion-free to ensure happy husbands.

Of course, if you step back, you realise that actually this isn't an alien concept, and that is what makes O'Neill's writing so great. Women and girls are already doubting their existence, striving to be beautiful and sexy - this book only takes it juuuust a bit further. I wouldn't go as far as saying that Only Ever Yours is a feminist novel, but it definitely engages the feminist in me, if that makes sense. Feminist issues are clearly running throughout the novel, but to me it's a dystopian novel due to the 'oh yeah all the original women are gone' kind of vibes. And I love that, so that's great.  

I really enjoyed reading Only Ever Yours, and it seriously took me through the motions! I was angry, sad, angry again and then BAM - that ending! If you've read a book review by me before, you'll know I've been plagued by bad endings but this one did not disappoint! For that reason alone, I would recommend Only Ever Yours. Luckily, the entire novel is gripping, and had me hooked!

Have you read Only Ever Yours? 

Chelsea xo

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