Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Only Ever Yours

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
Published by Quercus
2nd July 2015
Paperback Edition

eves are designed, not made.

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 eves have been waiting.
Now, they are ready for the outside world.

companion . . . concubine . . . chastity.

Only the best will be chosen.

And only the Men decide.

I'm sure I've said this before, but sci-fi and dystopian books are really not my thing at all.  Having said that, I've now read, and enjoyed, The ShipStation 11 and now I can add Only Ever Yours to that list too.  It was another outburst on how great this was via Twitter that even prompted me to read this, or it would easily have slipped by my radar.  I raced through it on a train journey the other day and I think I had it read within 24 hours.

The basics of the story, set in the future are this, girls are made - to order, and they aren't called girls but eves (and names are all lower case too).  They can be sent back for errors and fixed to perfection because they are all destined for one of three roles: that of the companion - a mate for a man to choose, a concubine - an eve to satisfy a man, or a chastity - a celibate eve who prepares other eves for their future destinations.

Each eve has a name and a number and every day they compete against each other to be the best, the most prettiest eve in order to get their ranking up high enough to they can compete for the heart of the ten most eligible males in existence.  The book mainly follows frieda and isabel through their final year at school.  The daily updates on social media, the constant weight battles, the dilemma of what outfit to wear to be number one is intense and for frieda and isabel it begins to take it's toll on their health, their friendship and their place within society.

This is marketed as a ya novel but I think it will also appeal to a much older audience.  I, for one, am certainly glad that a society such as the one created by Louise O'Neill won't exist in my lifetime, for I would never want to be a part of it.  This is a really readable book, if only for the voyeuristic view we have of the girls and their daily lives.  Why would you want to live your life that way, and what would you do if it was actually your only choice?  It's a good book, that tackles a very difficult subject, of body consciousness, eating disorders, the constant obsession with technology and social media in all formats, and in some ways, the distorted media projection of today's celebrity culture on our children.  Read it and wince.

Happy reading

Miss Chapter x

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