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Only Ever Yours (2014)

by Louise O'Neill(Favorite Author)
3.77 of 5 Votes: 4
review 1: It was really chilling and startling, comparing the mentality that I started the book with and the one that I finished it with. At first, this odd, dystopian world where girls are literally bred their entire lives to be a man's companion and nothing else, seemed ludicrous, unbelievable, and full of extremes. But the longer I read, the more details I started noticing, the more similarities I found between the mentality of many women today and the mentality of the girls in this novel. WARNING: This book does not end happily. And I liked that. I really, really liked how scared I was, how drawn in, how thrilled and chilled. It was great.
review 2: This is book is an instant classic - a disturbing, insightful and relevant exploration of female oppression.Frieda is a
... moren "eve", a teenage girl whose only options from birth are to fulfill one of three designated roles for women in society- to become either a wife and mother, a sex slave or a celibate schoolmistress. The novel is set in a world where a preference for male offspring and the availability of gender-selection in pregnancy eventually caused women to die out entirely. Females began to be manufactured instead of being born, genetically engineered to the male specification of the "ideal" woman.The eves live their lives in a school designed to teach them how to suppress their emotions, to be pleasing to men and to be beautiful. They are fed a cocktail of pills designed to keep their weight under control, to keep their skin flawless and to numb their emotions and they are encouraged to compete with one another for the eventual prize of becoming a "companion", a wife and broodmare for one of boys born in the same year they were created. Since there are an excess of girls for the sons to choose from, only a third will attain the coveted spot of companion, where they will bear as many sons as possible before being "terminated" at the age of 40. The rest will either become sex slaves for the male population to use as they see fit or, in rare cases, will never leave the school and live their lives as one of the shaven-headed, dour "chastities", the teachers who look after the eves.The book charts Frieda's final year at school, through the cattiness and backstabbing of the other girls, the selection process for companions and her increasing desperation to be chosen by Darwin, a self-absorbed affluent young man with a powerful father. It also explores her complex relationship with her former best friend Isabel, formerly the highest ranked eve in her year, who has begun to deliberately try to make herself ugly, first by gaining excessive weight and then by starving herself to emaciation. Through an exploration of the surreal world of the school where the eves are confined, O'Neill draws disturbing and biting parallels with 21st century Western society. It examines the toxic, throwaway culture of celebrity, the unattainable standards of female beauty and the intolerable pressures placed on young women in society to be all at once pure, but not "frigid", sexy but not a "slut", thin, but still pneumatic, clever, but not in a way that makes men feel threatened, light-hearted, but not "vapid" and "special" but only within the confines of what society finds acceptable.It starts out almost as a satire, holding a contemptuous mirror up to aspects of modern culture such as obsessively documenting everything on social media, the rise of reality stars like the Kardashians and the pressure for women to live up to an impossible ideal. There are so many clever small details, like the eves all being named after supermodels and the boys all being named after notable scientists, or the myriad of throwaway comments from the eves which highlight some of the more disturbing aspects of modern celebrity culture.Freida's voice is not one of dissent - she has the same shallow anxieties, hopes and dreams as all the girls around her and she buys into all of the messages about pleasing men completely and reaching that unattainable standard of female beauty. Her genuine, naive acceptance of her role in society and the self loathing which her constant search for "perfection" brings out in her only makes the reader more disgusted and angry at her situation. The plot itself is compelling and gradually and seamlessly builds from sad and disturbing to absolute gut-wrenching horror over the course of the last third of the book.This is not a pleasant read but it is a must-read. This book is an instant classic of dystopian fiction, up there with Brave New World, 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale. less
Reviews (see all)
Interesting YA version of The Handmaid's Tale but without the depth of writing.
Jesus Christ that was brilliant! So scary, so powerful! Ah!
it was ok not just my type of book
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