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Only Ever Yours Paperback – March 8, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—freida and isabel live at the School, where every element of their world is closely controlled. They have been trained in the ways of perfect femininity, spending all of their time thinking exclusively about their appearances. At 16, the girls are in their final year so they must be more perfect than ever—that's the only way they will be selected as companions. Their fates otherwise are too horrible to contemplate. But isabel, always top in the class, begins to unravel. freida must now figure out what is happening to her best friend while the biggest change, and challenge, in their lives approaches. This British debut takes dystopias to the next level of intensity and bleakness. O'Neill creates a future world where girls are only products and they aren't even worthy of having their names begin with capital letters. Sophisticated readers will be quickly drawn into the horrific landscape and, thanks to the author's deft characterization and strong world-building, will feel the same kind of claustrophobic fear freida and isabel feel. These elements make the book immediate, compelling, and appealingly different. At points, however, the narrative strives too hard to make the dystopian future world an exaggerated mirror of our own, bogging down the plot. This book is dark and unrelenting, there are no revolutions or happy endings to be had here. VERDICT Recommended as an additional purchase where older teens are looking for more depth in their dystopian fiction.—Angie Manfredi, Los Alamos County Library System, NM --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Winner of the 2014 Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year Award at the BGE Irish Book Awards
"A haunting dystopian novel for fans of The Handmaid's Tale"―Refinery29
"[A] terrifying but captivating book."―Company magazine
"Disturbing, provocative . . . I was utterly captivated from beginning to end."―Gabriel Byrne ("In Treatment," "The Usual Suspects," "Miller's Crossing)
"Dark and thought-provoking... There are some good Logan's Run shivers, and it is beautifully written."―Tara Flynn, The Irish Times
"Only Ever Yours is a chilling dystopian fantasy... It has the bleakness of Catcher in the Rye, the satire of The Stepford Wives and it made me recall how scared I felt reading Nineteen Eighty-Four... But by far the best thing about Louise O' Neill's book is that it is well written, by a fresh and original talent."―Anne Cunningham, Irish Independent
"Compelling writing and a brutal conclusion means this only-too-real dystopia grips from beginning to end."―SFX Magazine
"O'Neill has talent to burn; this dystopian YA debut is both compelling and frightening."―Irish Examiner
"If the Hunger Games series was your guilty pleasure then young Irish author Louise O' Neill's debut novel Only Ever Yours is about to become another... [It] explores the contemporary pressure on women and girls to be 'perfect' in this dark and gripping narrative."―Irish Tatler
"An ingenious exploration of gender roles, female identity, and female competition."―Buzzfeed
"Deep, dark and frighteningly believable. This story will stay with you for a long time."―Marie Claire
"A witty and unsettling story...Hopefully Only Ever Yours will be read widely."―The Telegraph
"Unbelievably believable, compelling, utterly riveting... Whilst it is dark, uncompromising and utterly daunting to read as a woman, it is and should be a classic in the making."―Liz Loves Books
"O'Neill's story reads like an heir to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and M.T. Anderson's Feed, and, like those books, it's sure to be discussed for years to come."―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A beautifully written, remarkable debut. the near-future world, after a climate-change apocalypse, is fully imagined and vividly realized. The claustrophobic, insular lives of 16-year-old girls as they struggle against themselves and each other will ring eerily true for today's teens." - Common Sense Media
Top customer reviews
I will begin by saying that I look for dystopian fiction to read. The Handmaid's Tale, Never Let Me Go, Brave New World, and 1984 all have places on my bookshelf and in my ereader. Only Ever Yours will be joining this group of tales. I enjoyed the story of a group of girls indoctrinated by their culture to believe that they are only valuable for their appearance. I thought that the subtle new spellings, reality shows, and social media presences were nods to our present culture. Some of the themes are disturbing - only beauty matters, strict target weights, drugs to enable compliance, and male perceptions of females, they are meant to be disturbing because they uncomfortably close to our own culture. This is not a light-weight read, there is an ending, the story is complete, but it continues to resonate asking to be revisited by the reader.
The book begins with a group of young women in a dystopian society that literally grows women to be either the mate, concubine, or teacher. The girls we are introduced to are teens that are vying for the few positions of mates to a small group of young men. The story leaves to many details out. We never understand how the girls are raised, how they are made, why there are so few of them, why the roles are not already assigned, why they are forced to compete. There are slight racial and homophobic undertones with the protagonist being "darker" than the other girls, and she fears she is a homosexual because she had feelings for a friend. If darker skin is an unwanted trait wouldn't it be bred out. The girls are encouraged to be shallow, and unintelligent but are clearly literate and strong. If the goal is to create perfect mates for the few men that will be mated wouldn't the scientists just create them perfectly. The girls are portrayed as lab experiments but are treated as if they have free will. The best friend of the protagonist does the unthinkable, in a society where no person would even have the knowledge to do what she did. It really just didn't make a ton of sense.
I treated myself to this book and was dissatisfied, I think I was expecting something a little deeper but this was just ok. It would be good for preteen girls that are obsessed with boys, looks and social media.
Anyway, ultimately I rated this book a four because after I was done reading, I COULDN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. That has to mean something.