Sunday, July 26, 2015

Only Ever Yours by Loiuse O'Neill | #SassyBooks July

Hi, Today I am reviewing one of a selection of books I managed to read on my camping trip. Firstly I want to explain why I read this book, it's all down to the lovely Charlotte at Colours and Carousels and Hayley at Water Painted Dreams who have created the #SassyBooks book club. I have followed both of their blogs for ages and when I saw they where doing a book club I jumped at the chance to actually have time to read a book by a deadline and take part.

Only Ever Yours
Author - Louise O'Neill
Page Count - 392
First Published - 2014

The story is quite dark in subject matter, based in a dystopian world, the human race has ended up having to create females after a desire for only male offspring. This in itself is a very medieval attitude towards the female gender, that a man is only as good as his heir. So the theory behind the story is that while only males are produced in the natural way, females are still required for the human race to exist. The manner in which the girls are created is not really discussed but a batch of girls are created to fulfill demand for the heirs born in that year. Three girls are created to each heir born so they have a choice between girls. They all have their own model number and are created with attributes that are also numbered. The issue with this is each girl is made perfect but there are so many differences between the girls, how can you define beauty. They live under the shadow of a slogan 'there is always room for improvement'.

The girls referred to as 'eves' live at the school, an institution run by the chastity's, they look after the eves until their graduation, this is when they find out what sector of the thirds they will be in for the rest of their lives. The eves could be considered sisters but are back stabbing and only out to protect their rating, the girls even have lessons where they are compared and the class asked to criticize each other. Ratings are what the eves live for, 16 years of repeated applying of make up and eating 0Kal meals to keep their score at the top. You have to be at the top if you want to be a companion, the other options of been a Concubine or a Chastity don't bare thinking about.

The story is told from the perspective of Freida one of the 16th years, starting at the beginning of her final year before graduation. She has previously been best friends with Isabelle ranked #1 and herself not far behind at #3. Isabelle stops turning up at the nutrition center over the summer and when classes resume she is normally missing or excused. Things are obviously wrong but even her best friend can't work out what it is. Isabelle starts to let the unrealistic standards slip by gaining weight. Freida finds herself betraying her friend to keep up appearance with the other girls. As their friendship falls apart so does Freida's rating as she drops down the ranks.

There is an air of repetition in the book in terms of subject matter which just drives home how boring and monotonous these girls lives are. Never seeing beyond the walls of the school. The girls are taught only how to be pretty and not show emotion, they are told very little about the world they belong too and even less about academic subjects. The girls are never their own person, they are owned in one way or another from the day of creation. It's seen that they owe the realm for looking after them for 16 years and now they must pay back the nation in one form or another.

The subject matter is dark and there are elements of the story which made for uncomfortable reading but that just made the story more intense and as a result I just couldn't stop reading. There is still so much that I haven't even mentioned, the story is very fast paced and I was pretty hooked as very little is given away in some underlying story lines right up until the last few pages. I would highly recommend this book, check out the girls blogs for their reviews and next months #SassyBooks book choice, I can't wait to see what they have picked this time.


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