Only Ever Yours
by Louise O’Neill

published May 12th 2015 by Quercus
young adult | dystopia

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Where women are created for the pleasure of men, beauty is the first duty of every girl. In Louise O’Neill’s world of Only Every Yours women are no longer born naturally, girls are raised in Schools and trained in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age.
Freida and Isabel are best friends. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year, they expect to be selected as companions–wives to powerful men. All they have to do is ensure they stay in the top ten beautiful girls in their year. The alternatives are too horrible to contemplate.
But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty–her only asset–in peril. 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.

Book Review

Only Ever Yours contains one of the most eerily plausible dystopian setups I have read, with some grim reminders that apply all too well to the teenagers of today’s society.

Only Ever Yours is set in a futuristic society where girls spend their entire lives with the sole purpose of learning to please men. At their 16th year graduation, boys come and select their wife, living the rest of their lives in comfortable peace. Those not chosen are left to a grim fate.

Isabel and Freida have been best friends their entire lives, and, as two of the prettiest girls at the school, they are sure they have a chance at being chosen as wives. But the final year comes with more emotional and physical hardships than they could have ever imagined.

Our protagonist Freida is a character I enjoyed, but I never felt that I truly knew her as a person. Her whole life is consumed, understandably, by the prospect of graduating, looking pretty, and getting the best husband. There weren’t any other characteristics about her that truly distinguished her in my mind.

The secondary characters were similar. They all felt a bit one-dimensional to me. Most of Freida’s classmates felt as if they were characterized as stereotypical “mean girls” rather than actually being developed to their full potential.

Nonetheless, though, the message of this story is one that will stick with you for a long time. It’s about how critically teenage girls in our society view their bodies, and the drastic measures some girls will go to in order to appear “perfect.” A moving and thought-provoking debut.
Skulls 3.5


 

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About Zoe

Zoe is a critical reviewer. When she’s not reviewing, you can find her performing in plays / musicals, doing gymnastics, or designing websites.

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15 thoughts on “Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

  1. Isn’t that the point though? I mean, in my opinion, I thought the girls were all meant to be portrayed as shallow, and very two dimensional. I thought it added more to the book, that they were just shown as ultra bitchy, because that’s what girls are seen as. I thought it really added depth to the story, and it made this book even more chilling for me.

    I’m sorry it didn’t reach it’s full potential for you!
    Denise | The Bibliolater

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  2. So, frieda isn’t really supposed to be someone you connected to, in my opinion. She and isabel (and all the others) are shells. Bodies, basically, and just hanging around for the amusement of the boys. Like, the bits of freida and isabel that shone through were not supposed to- that was “bad” of them, because no one is supposed to have a discernible personality. And the “mean girl” stereotype is definitely true! Because everyone wanted to be a companion, and really, what power did they have? There wasn’t a way to stand out, so they had to make sure that someone else DID- but in a bad way.

    (I clearly have SOOOO many feelings about this book- I can’t even explain how much Louise O’Neill moved me with this one, it was really intense for me.) But I am glad that you were moved by the message, because it is just so important- and so scary! Because you are right, it IS entirely too plausible!

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  3. I was actually wondering whether I should add this book to my tbr but it sounds a little too realistic haha. The premise of this book is also quite similar to another dystopian book I read (can’t remember the title but the main character runs away because her father is making her marry a wealthy man who is threatening to shut down her father’s company). I think that main character was also a lot more 3-dimensional than Freida seems to be. Characters really determine whether I enjoy a book and I think while the premise is interesting, these characters won’t hold my attention for long. Great review! :)

    – Rachana @ Addicted to YA

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  4. Oh, wow, this sounds really good. This one definitely sounds really thought-provoking — and while not something I would usually read, I think I might give this one a chance. Sorry you didn’t love it completely, though I can see how a book like this might not appeal to everyone. Great review!

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  5. Hmmm… I’ve never heard of this one. Books that try to set up this kind of weird, misogynistic future (The Handmaid’s Tale?) always strike me as pretty far-fetched, so you saying this book has a plausible set up makes me really interested to see just what makes it special. I’m glad you enjoyed it and I might just have to check this one out for myself!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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  6. This book has been on my TBR for so long and after buying ‘Asking for It’ (which I’ve heard a lot about as well), I really am interested to see how Louise O’Neill writes. This seems to remind me of The Handmaid’s Tale in some ways, though I can see how it is definitely unique in others. I love the sort of thought-provoking debuts that pull you in, so I’m hoping to read this soon. Thanks for the review Zoe :)

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  7. This book sounds so…different. I’m intrigued to see how it’ll work out – the premise is TERRIFYING but at the same the time the book as whole sounds amazing. I WANT. Also, lovely review <3

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  8. OMG. I haven’t paid much attention to this book because I thought it would be stupid, but after reading that synopsis and your review, I’m intrigued! This seems like it could be a good dystopia (and I’ve been itching to read a dystopian book for a while now…)

    Great review, Zoe!

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  9. “Only Ever Yours is set in a futuristic society where girls spend their entire lives with the sole purpose of learning to please men.”

    That sounds like……2016.

    :(

    I have this book. I really want to read it!

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