Sunday, 29 March 2015

Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill

Published; July 3rd 2014 by Quercus

Source; owned, ebook

My Rating; 3 out of 5 stars

The Set Up;

Baby girls are no longer conceived or born naturally. Genetically engineered 'eves' are bred and reared in schools run by spayed sister dedicates, and trained in the arts of pleasing men. The mostly highly rated girls, will, at graduation be permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons - at least until they are no longer useful. The girls left behind can look forward to a grim future as a concubine or a teacher. Frieda and Isabel are best friends and among the most highly rated girls. They are certain to be chosen as companions and all Frieda wants is to raise her sons, side by side with Isabel. But Isabel has been acting distant lately. In fact she seems to be on a mission to self destruct. There isn't much time before graduation for Frieda to find out what is wrong with her friend and get her back on track...and associating with someone on a downward spiral will damage Frieda's own ratings...


Three stars for a good if disturbing concept. This is not any kind of fairy tale (at least not in the Disney sense) so go into this with girded loins. Girls are bred in schools until they are ripe for marriage or concubinage. Taught how to dress, groom and make-up themselves, how to pass value judgements and calculate calories but denied the ability to read or a more thorough education, these young women are striving in a permanent popularity contest to reach the elite top ten - those fortunate few who will be chosen as companions by the male 'heirs' of the year of their birth. Picking up on pretty much every single issue relating to women and teenage girls, and how they are conditioned, as well as portrayed in the public arena, this is a claustrophobic little book with a very nasty sting in the tail. Worryingly, much of the subject matter is really a believable extension of the 'reality TV' body obsessive culture of today. Remove reason, accountability and the last shreds of kindness, and throw together thirty young women, reared without love, in a salad bowl of seething resentments, body image obsession and fierce competition in what amounts to a life or death beauty pageant on the verge of human extinction...And you have the recipe for this book. It is not a pretty picture but it is intelligently written, plausible and a justifiably scathing commentary on the current rise of the cult of self and the more insidious forms of sexism and misogyny 
The voice never wavers. The tension is gradually increased to fever pitch. And the plot draws you forward. I did get to a point where I really wanted to smack the whining MC even though I could see that she was a product of her environment through very little fault of her own. In the end no one really wins. A bleak outlook from a pretty good book. Not one I think I'll ever reread though


  1. Ha that's funny. Louise O'Neill was my mother's name. I doubut she'd ever write this kind of book. I should check it out.

  2. Haha. Yes it is funny when that happens...of course if it does turn out to be your mum, please extend my compliments ;)