Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Dystopian
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: July 3rd 2014

5 OUT OF 5 STARS

“I’m a good girl. I am pretty. I am always happy-go-lucky.”

It is freida’s final year in the school. This year will decide how her life ends up, and it’s going to be even harder to deal with without her best friend. Despite years of friendship isabel and freida are growing apart. Not only that, but isabel seems to be losing interest in keeping up her appearances. frieda isn’t quite sure how she’ll handle things but when the boys show up she thinks that maybe someone can save her after all.

Dystopia has developed a very specific image in recent young adult literature, and I’m glad to say that this book breaks free from those expectations. It breaks free from a chosen one rising up against the oppressors and focuses instead on building it’s world and showing the effects that this society has on it’s inhabitants. Despite the length of the novel the world is fantastically built, at least the parts we get to see.

The writing style is fast-paced, exciting, suspenseful and very unique. None of the girls’ names are capitalized, even when starting a sentence. This is never mentioned in the book proper, but it does add to the feeling of their position as accessories to men.  The book is stuck between high school drama and the horror of this society where girls are raised to please men until they’re terminated at a certain age. It’s a brilliant contrast.

The characters are all very catty and similar, which is to be expected in this sort of setting. The main character, frieda, is at the best of times infuriating. I got second-hand embarrassment so badly I had to put the book down at times, but that’s not really a bad thing.

The book is a little heavy-handed with it’s depiction of misogyny. It’s clearly affecting the female characters poorly, but it doesn’t seem to bother any of the few male characters. In fact this society seems to be working out great for most of them. While the end of the book was deliciously depressing, I was left feeling hungry for SOME sort of larger break in their society.

It was too enjoyable and poignant to knock down a star, but it definitely feels a little unfinished, if only because I’ve grown accustomed to happy endings.

BUY THE BOOK

Read this if you’re a fan of: The Handmaid’s Tale

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