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Friday, 6 November 2015

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

Title: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise O'Neill
Genre: YA Dystopian (New Adult IMO)
Length: 392 pages
Published: July 3rd 2014
 
After reading this book, I was in two minds about whether or not I was going to blog about it. Mostly because with a lot of books, I take them personally and get emotional and I'm not always ready to talk about them. But I feel like Only Ever Yours is such an important book for so many reasons that I need to tell you about it. I also don't want to feel ashamed of the way it made me feel, because I don't think it's something to be ashamed of.
 
Only Ever Yours is a dystopian. I would also say it's more of a 'New Adult' read than a 'Young Adult', mostly because I think people of around 12-15 years old may find it too much and too deep. But then, I certainly did and I'm 20! So I guess it's really down to you. In this dystopian world, women are no longer naturally born. They're created, or 'designed' as Freida tells us, and their sole purpose in life is to please men. Whether that's by becoming a companion, a concubine or a chastity (the latter of which trains eves in the School). We follow Freida during her last year of School. At the end of this year, she will attend the Ceremony and discover her fate: will she become a companion, just like she's always dreamed? Or will she be a concubine, destined to forever fulfil the sexual appetites of men? Freida can't even comprehend the life of a chastity, who are doomed to forfeit themselves and their beauty.
 
From the very first page you realise how dark Freida's world is. For one thing, the eves' names aren't even capitalised. This is very symbolic as it shows that they're really not accepted as people, more as objects. I found it a little confusing at first but it was more down to personal reading preferences than anything else. We find Freida led in bed, unable to sleep, and listening to the messages that are pumped into her room's speakers every night. "I am a good girl. I am pretty. I am acceptable." and other variations. The introduction of Isabel hammers down the beginning of one plot point, but it isn't really recognised until the ending of the book. I felt really conflicted by Isabel and spent most of the book trying to figure her out. Once I discovered what it was, I have to admit I was surprised!
 
In my opinion, there's no real 'plot' to this book. We're just kind of following Freida in her life. There's obviously her main goal, which is to become a companion, and her relationships with Isabel and fellow eve Megan but it's all quite subtle, as opposed to there being one strict thing that's happening. Once the Inheritants are brought onto the scene there's a more direct plot as Freida vies for one specific guy, but even then it's all tied up with everything else.
A big part of the plot, or I suppose just the story in general, is the style of Freida's life. All of the eves are set specific weight goals, plus they're all dosed up on medication to strictly regulate their beauty. The walls and surfaces of nearly every room are composed of mirrors, so you can never escape your reflection. Menstruation is considered a disgusting, shameful thing and being 'fat' is completely unacceptable. There's also the comparison 'games' that they play during their lessons, where the chastity will place two girls beside each other and the class has to critique their appearance compared to one another's. Literally everything in their lives if banking on their appearance. It's all incredibly intense, and I feel like could be potentially damaging to a reader who has a lack of self-confidence concerning their weight/appearance. (I consider myself one of those readers.)
 
The ending of this book is what really struck me the most. I maintained a level head during most of it, but the ending was like a kick in the chest. I didn't think I really came to care for Freida too much over the course of the book, but by the end I was in a flood of tears. I would have preferred for it to turn out a different way, of course I would, but I respect the ending. I feel like the book wouldn't be this dark  and important if it didn't end the way that it did.
 
Overall, Only Ever Yours is a very intense, dark and important book. I'm going to issue a huge trigger warning for this one - I feel like it's on par, if not worse in some ways, than Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. I came away from this book feeling insecure, anxious, upset and confused. I cried for about 45 minutes and had to seek reassurance from both my mum and my boyfriend. In fact, I genuinely felt like I was going to have a panic attack. I'm feeling quite nervous telling you all this, actually, but I have to be honest and I don't want to feel ashamed about my feelings.
 
I decided to award Only Ever Yours 4/5 stars. I've taken away one star because I feel like something was missing - maybe the lack of solid plot? - and because at the beginning it was a bit of an information dump regarding the fellow eves and I got really confused.
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If you liked Only Ever Yours, I'd recommend Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Seed by Lisa Heathfield .  
 

5 comments:

  1. Starting this book today, I'm intrigued after reading this review - wondering how it will leave me feeling. I will say, I have a different cover than yours and would have preferred this cover lol
    X

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  2. I have seen this book everywhere, I REALLY want to give it a read x

    http://thriftyvintagefashion.blogspot.co.uk/

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  3. I read this book back in the summer and it's still playing on my mind. I totally get your response to the book, it's really very dark but it's a real eye opener to some really important issues. I'm really looking forward to picking up 'Asking For it'. =^-^=

    Sam | Momentarily Dreaming

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  4. I've recently read and reviewed this book too, and feel exactly the same as you do. In some ways, I loved this book because I couldn't put it down - it was so captivating. But you're right, it's VERY disturbing too xx

    Sam // Samantha Betteridge

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Thank you for commenting! Please feel free to leave your links - I'm always on the look out for new blogs to read xo

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