***Note that some portions of this review could be triggering.***
How would I describe this book in one word? Horrifying.
But not for the reason you might think.
In this world, women are no longer born. They are created. They are genetically engineered for the soul purpose of pleasing men. At the age of four they are sent to the School, where they are taught until they are sixteen, at which point they have three options open to them. They can become a companion and face execution when they are 40. They could be a concubine, which is this world’s equivalent of a prostitute, or they could be a chastity and never leave the School, teaching younger eves while they grow old. The thing is though, that the eves do not really get a choice. The men choose for them in their Final Year.
The eves only have one overarching worry through their lives: how pretty am I? They worry about maintaining an ideal weight, have their makeup put on, and eat 0kcal meals. Each one of them has an eating disorder of some kind—there is even a Vomitorium in the Nutrition Center. These eves are encouraged to criticize one another for any little thing.
“She’s fat, girls. She’s fat and disgusting. Say it with me. She’s fat. Fat. Fat.”
“Everybody hates you, nobody likes you. You are disgusting. I wish you didn’t exist. I wish you were dead.”
“I would search among the shattered shavings of glass for the perfect one, the sharpest one. I would open my veins with it.”
“She didn’t deserve my sympathy when she was fat, fat, fat, when she was greedy, when she was disgusting. Fat girls should be made obsolete. No one will ever love a fat girl.”
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill follows freida and her journey through the Final Year at the school. Prior to the book’s beginning, she and isabel were best friends, but the beginning sees that friendship start to unravel.
Consistently throughout the book, the girls are told that they must please men. They must always be willing. People tell them that men don’t like women who cry, who are angry, or show any kind of emotion. Their lives revolve around taking pictures every morning to hopefully boost their rankings.
When the boys come into play? The novel takes a dramatic turn.
I can’t say that I loved this book. The society seen in the novel was extreme, sure, but I can’t help but feel as if many aspects are reflected in our current society. By the standards in the book, I would be one of the fat girls. I would be obsolete, according to them.
After the boys arrived, I found new hope in the book. But I was not expecting the dramatic ending. In no way did I see that coming. Without giving anything away, one of the eves makes a decision that I was screaming in my head at. I did not want her to do it whatsoever. I knew that it wouldn’t turn out good if she did. But at the same time? I don’t know that I would have the strength to resist. Did freida have that strength? You will have to read it to find out.
Only Ever Yours is a book that cuts straight to your core. It hit way too close to home for my own comfort. Way too close. When I finished, I just and to sit there—in some ways, I found it hard to focus and take a deep breath. I am pretty sure that I shed a tear or two throughout the novel. It’s shocking. Then again, our society is shocking. This just puts a lense that is a little more extreme on the situation.
It is not the most well-written book out there, but all the same the narrative it spins is captivating.
I encourage you to read it. However, just as I included a warning at the beginning of this review, be aware that certain aspects could be triggering.
I would love to hear what you think about the book. Let me know in the comments!