Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

I picked this book up when I bought ‘Unspeakable’ (see my last book review) and was trying to decide between the two. I put ‘Only Ever Yours’ down because I thought the way the names were written might get on my nerves. If I recall correctly, the girl’s names didn’t have a capital letter but the boys did? I know the girls definitely didn’t but I can’t check about the boys because I’ve lent my copy of the book to my friend. Anyway, a couple of weeks later I was looking for a new book and looked at this one again. So I decided to give it another chance.

The story is told from the point of view of freida who lives in a dystopian society where girls are created and kept in ‘schools’, their only purpose being to please the men who live in the real world. freida and her best friend isobel are preparing for their final year at the school where the boys will come to their sealed female environment to choose a companion each. With thirty girls and ten boys, freida and isobel want to be chosen as companions – the life of a concubine is too horrible to contemplate. But as the final year approaches, isobel starts to self-destruct, destroying her beauty, the only thing the boys particularly care about. Can freida betray her only friend to secure her future?

Sam Dun Dun Dun gif

Like I said, the idea itself sounds really good and the only thing I was put off by was the way the names were written because I was worried it’d annoy me but once I got into the story I barely noticed. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into this story – I’ll admit maybe the first couple of chapters were a bit slow but then suddenly I couldn’t put it down. The only thing that was slightly confusing was that there were quite a few characters and I lost track of who was who a couple of times. You can keep track of the most important characters though which are freida, isobel and megan then the chastity’s. The chastity’s are like the girls mentors, the ones who weren’t chosen as companions or concubines.

O’Neill makes it clear from the start that girls are brought up to believe that they have to be perfect all the time – they have to wear make-up, they have to stay on a target weight level, they have to choose the right outfits that make them look good. Every day is a chore of self-control and pretending to be friends with each other, every day being almost identical. Everyone is eager to be the most beautiful so people are shocked when isobel, the original #1, starts putting on weight and neglecting her appearance. How can freida feel anything but disgust? I’d like to say freida’s torn between trying to find out what’s wrong with her friend and working on her own self-image but for freida there’s no competition – she has to work on her own image.

Even though I loved this book, I have to tell you that it’s not a light read. It can be intense, especially the last few chapters. The worst thing about the book is probably reading through the propaganda of how these girls need to lose weight and put their make-up on perfectly and you find yourself agreeing with it before you catch yourself and realise just how disgusting it is – O’Neill does a good job of reflecting real life in the most horrifying way.

As usual, my review truly hasn’t done this book the justice it deserves. I got through this book so quickly because I couldn’t want to find out what happens next. It’s a real page turner and for everyone wondering why I haven’t brought up any romance yet, all I’ll say is that this book didn’t get on my nerves on the romance front. You’ll have to read it to found out why though!

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One thought on “Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

  1. I read this a couple of years ago now I think and really enjoyed it and found it really compelling just like you did and I thought the story was so original and amazing!

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