Saturday, 4 July 2015

Guest Book Review: Louise O'Neill - Only Ever Yours

Reviewed by Louise Wykes

eves are designed, not made. 
The School trains them to be pretty. 
The School trains them to be good. 
The School trains them to Always be Willing.

All their lives, the eves have been waiting. 
Now, they are ready for the outside world.

companion . . . concubine . . . chastity. 
Only the best will be chosen. 
And only the Men decide.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

After hearing so many fantastic things about this book I was really excited to start this book to see what all the fuss was about.  After finishing it I had to take a few days before I could write my review to try and decide exactly what my feelings were about this stark and relentless book.

Freida and Isabel have been friends for years but as they approach their sixteenth year, circumstances conspire to drive a wedge between these former friends.  The book is set in the future in a world where females are created with three sole purposes in life: to become a companion, a concubine or a chastity (teacher).  The highest honour is to become a companion and produce sons to please their future husbands.  The whole point of the School where Isabel and Frieda go is to prepare the girls for whatever life awaits them after their destiny is chosen for them in something that Freida and Isabel only know is called the Ceremony.

The book started off quite slowly gradually building up the tension as Freida and her friends approach the final months, weeks and days before the Ceremony.  The last third of the book is filled with tension as the writer draws the reader into what is slowly becoming Frieda’s mental decline as the only goal she can see is being chosen as a companion.  This makes for quite painful but compelling reading at times and sometimes I had to pause and put the book down just to take a break from the relentless pressure that Freida was going through.

This is a biting, well written take on the modern pressures facing young people (girls especially) to appear perfect above everything else, even above being a good person and the ending is so shocking and brutal that it took me quite a while for it to sink in and I kept on thinking about it for hours afterwards.

I would recommend this book as I think it is a valid and highly perceptive book that will make the reader think about society’s pressure to conform but I can’t say that I enjoyed the book in that it is quite bleak in its outlook but it is certainly one that will stay with the reader long after they have finished the last page.

I'd like to thank Quercus Books for sending a copy of Only Ever Yours to Louise to review.

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