Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

9781784294007You know those books that make you sit back and go, “Um, woah” and then are super hard to talk about because they’ve messed with your brain so much? WELL. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill definitely fits in that category. It’s the kind of book that makes you think. It took me ages to formulate thoughts. WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT THIS BOOK? Is it a masterpiece or a terror? Or both?

Both. Both, for sure.

It’s set in a futuristic world were women are treated as…objects. They exist for men’s pleasure. They are nothing. An insult is, “Don’t be academic.” It’s the most sickening society I’ve ever read and I found it quite tough to read about. It’s narrated by a school of 16-year-old girls where their entire LIFE’s PURPOSE is to make a man happy at some point. To be chosen and married and used. They’ll only have sons because women are “made” in this society. And if there’s a glitch? They just terminate the girl. LET ME JUST SCREAM. I hated the society with a fiery passion — but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. Contrary. It set up the world-building so thoroughly I was totally invested in the story and couldn’t put it down. But it’s pretty much not for the faint of heart. And if you, like me, are really passionate about feminism, then it’ll rile you badly.

It also prodded today’s society’s view of things. Like the definition of beauty and how people treat those with mental illnesses. It exaggerated them. But the nugget of realism drove the book home hard.
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These girls must be “perfect”. They can’t be fat. They constantly chant how evil and horrible “fat girls” are. It’s sickening. It basically just shredded me…the way they had bulimia and anorexia and how this impacted their psychological health too. The girls don’t even have capitals for their names. Because they’re not worth it. Omg.

The writing is utterly addictive. I think the entire book was a tad too long. Like it made a point — YES FOR SURE — but sometimes it felt like it was just repeating the same horror story again and again and again and…nunngh. I get twitchy when a book’s pacing is off.
It doesn’t have a conclusive ending. The moment I closed the book, I wanted to how, “BUT WHAT WAS THE POINT???” It does have a point — it’s a story with a point but no conclusion. I did struggle with that, but at the same time, I think it made the book stick in my head longer because I couldn’t stop mulling over it’s themes. This was a good but sickening book. I felt uncomfortable the entire time. It is 100% depressing. It is 1000% well-written and thought provoking and feels stabbing and….basically you need to read it.

If you are tired of the average YA “dystopian trends” — try this. It is unique and psychological and intense and woah.

“She’s beautiful, but it’s a faded beauty now, as if she’s been washed too many times.”

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