Asking for It by Louise O’Neill

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: September 3rd 2015

3 OUT OF 5 STARS

“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.”


Emma is the prettiest girl in Ballinatoom and everybody wants to be with her. At a party like any other Emma is choosing which boy she’ll take for the night, but when too much alcohol and strange drugs get involved she’s left with no memory of the night. Unfortunately, the rest of the town knows what happened. Photos are posted on facebook and suddenly Emma’s whole world is turned against her. She has to be strong and brave to make sure the boys get what they deserve.

From the moment I finished Only Ever Yours Louise O’Neill stole my heart. Asking For It is not full of the same imaginative worldbuilding, but its message is just as powerful as O’Neill’s first book. There is such a strong point-of-view and a fantastically real plot that it’s unfortunate I did not enjoy it more.

I found the start of the book slow, and the second half even more of a trudge. The scene that precedes the rape is the strongest in the book and while the aftermath feels very true to real-life, it’s a bit dull. There’s a lot of repetition, and things that didn’t need to be included and seemed to serve no purpose. There were definitely some parts of the aftermath that were important and exciting – but much of it was mundane everyday which didn’t need to be written out.

My biggest problem with the novel was how awkward the writing style was. There was no distinction between present day and flashbacks which made it difficult to follow the story. Even present day events were written in a way which made the timeline and plot harder to follow than I’d like.

This is not the most thrilling book about rape I’ve read, but the ending is what makes it stand out more than any other. Perhaps the book is slow and a bit confusing but the characters are simple yet strong, and most importantly, the story is important. The ending is important. Too often rape books are tied up with a pretty bow of happily ever after romance or at the very least justice. It was a slow read for me, but it will stay with me for a long time. This is the sort of story I desperately don’t want want to be true but is more often than not. This is a story people need to read.

Asking For It gives up the story about rape we need, the story that reflects how society and the justice system actually deal with rape and presents a perfect image of why that must change.

For Fans Of: What We Saw

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