Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend! Today’s post is a book review of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill! (The last time I did a book review was in March! 😬 But that was a self help book HERE so maybe this can count as my first ever story review! 😂). I bought Only Ever Yours after reading another of Louise O’Neill’s books, Asking For it, which although was based upon a tricky subject I really enjoyed reading it! O’Neill has a way of creating a world/life and giving you a pass to walk amongst the characters as one of their own and it is a truly breathtaking experience that is hard to find in some books. When I finished reading Only Ever Yours I knew that not only did I want to write a review of it incase any of you would like to delve into it or could discuss it with me but to also put some of the pieces of the puzzle together in my mind as it is a truly thought provoking book that I’m sure would throw some new snippets of information my way that I overlooked first-hand if I were to read it again. It reminded me of “Never let me go” by kazuo ishiguru (an equally compelling otherworldly work of fiction) and I never thought I would find a book that had as strong an impact but this is it!
Eve’s are designed, not born.
The school trains them to be pretty.
The school trains them to be good.
The school trains them to always be willing.
All their lives, the Eve’s have been waiting.
Now, they are ready for the outside world.
Only the best will be chosen.
And only the men decide.
The story is set in a dystopian future that isn’t too difficult to imagine becoming a horrific reality and told through the eyes of Freida, an eve, in the final year of the school that has designed her to meet the needs of the men in the outside world. We learn that she is different to her sister Eve’s in that she struggles to maintain the behavior of what the Eve’s are taught is good. This involves no crying which amongst other things like eating too much is viewed as weakness and no displays of anger as that in turn makes you frown and ruins your facial features. Beauty is obsessed over in order to become the best in daily “fotos” (selfies) and be chosen in the ceremony they have been waiting for their entire lives. This ceremony will see them selected for their third in life, either a companion (wife to an inheritant:man), a concubine (mistress to multiple men) or a chastity (teacher to the Eve’s, the full role of a chastity is a mystery).
As you can guess the majority of the Eve’s yearn to become a companion and be looked after by a man and treated as well as is possible for women in their closed off society. They are inferior to man and their only purpose is to please him and be a companion to bear his sons. They are designed to be perfect and no less and told that their is always room for improvement which in our world is true internally (so as to self-motivate) but they mean physically and that shows us just how extremely outrageous their world is.
Organized recreation (a form of nightmarish detox) is inforced if the Eve’s sway from the rules and act out of sorts so as to reduce female hysteria (which in our world women were cruelly admitted to insane asylum’s in order to be examined for in the past when other disorders were wrongly ingnored and misdiagnosed or when family’s thought it right to turn their wives/daughters ect. in as insane when they were in perfect state of mind. This has stopped but it’s frightening how in this books reality it is still a believed disorder) and threats of being sent underground which is thought to house Eve’s who can no longer be helped after misbehaving.
We follow Freida as she tries to fit in and be “perfect” amongst her fellow Eve’s where there is betrayal, ridicule, bullies and hair raising events taking place amongst the Eve’s in their daily lives as they attend classes that make them into “good” females. Frieda realizes that her close friend Isabel has broken away from her and as the story unfolds harsh realities of the standards they must uphold in their lives awaken, especially when the 10 inheritants who will choose their “lucky” companions make an appearance and Frieda makes a deadly life altering mistake.
A constant throughout this book was the pity I felt for the Eve’s and the situation that was out of their control. I was sickened by the Eve’s unhealthy view of their bodies in that they would miss meals in order to maintain a regular weight and that their intelligence (if only held rarely by some Eve’s) had to be hidden for fear of punishment (or chastisement from their chastity teachers). It was scary to imagine what their destinies would be outside of the school catering to everyone else’s needs but their own.
There is so much more to this book that keeps this a “spoiler free” review 😂 so I highly recommend it if you have not read it yet! It is most definitely a story that will stand the test of time and stay with you forever.
PS. When I finished reading this book I couldn’t help but tweet Louise O’Neill and tell her how much of an impact it has had on me and she said thank you! The last time an author replied to me was Nicola Yoon back in February HERE and it made me so happy because they are the people I aspire to be like with my writing one day 🙈😆
Thank you for reading this review! 😉💗 Would you read this book? Or have you read it already? (if so what is your opinion of it?) Hope your day is as amazing as you!