Heart-Wrenching Creepiness | Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

The first (and probably most important) thing that I have to say about this book is that it's creepy. But creepy good.

Okay, review over.
In Which I Review A Heart-Wrenchingly Creepy Book (Just Read It, Okay?)
I'm kidding - hopefully you worked that out - but I honestly think the creepiness is the most important part of Only Ever Yours. It's set in a world where women are no longer born, but manufactured. They're raised solely to please men from day one, ranked on their beauty and taught to compare their bodies to one another, that putting on a gram of fat makes them lazy and worthless. And then, when they turn seventeen, they are either chosen as a young man's companion, their sole purpose to bear his sons and do as he says, or condemned to life as a concubine.

Fun, huh?
However dark this premise sounds, though, I promise you will be able to get through the book, and it's really important that you do. I mean, think about it. Why do we get creeped out by things? What makes them creepy? Humans generally become frightened of things because we see them as a threat, as something real enough that it could hurt us. And if we find a world where women are objects a real threat, a real possibility . . .

That shows how much we need books like this, especially books that have been so well-written and imagined. Hopefully, Only Ever Yours can help us remember why gender inequality needs to be fought in the first place, and what could happen if we don't.

YES PEOPLE. It is a SERIOUSLY IMPORTANT subject and you need to read the book just for that. But don't think it's preachy! Or reading it will feel a chore! Look, the writing is good too:

The world is so deeply thought out, with every detail shown how deeply ingrained sexism is in that culture. Details such as how girls' names are never capitalised, because they don't count as proper nouns. The way that having a period is called womenstruation, because presumably it's far too "unclean" for men to be associated with even by a couple of letters. I obviously don't want to give away too much, but tiny touches like that suck you in through the entire book without being obtrusive or clunky (which happens all too often in dystopia-y books).
Only Ever Yours is therefore an insanely intricate web of captivating darkness.

I'm not going to say much about the characters, because it was sort of the point that they weren't unique or stand-out. Which isn't to say they aren't memorable - I'm not sure freida and isabel and everyone else will leave me for a long time yet - but just shows how they've been trained out of their own personalities. (Although, if you have read the book, can I just say that I'm absolutely intrigued by agyness and chastity-magdelane? AUTHOR AUTHOR I NEED TO HEAR THEIR STORIES.)

Now. I hate to talk about negatives, because I really think you should be off reading this book right this minute, but there were a couple of things that stopped this being a five-star read for me. They're really subjective, so honestly? I'm not sure you'll even notice.

The ending *pauses while trying to hold back a torrent of spoilers* was just a little . . . unsatisfying for my liking. And I'm sure that at least half of it was because I stupidly managed to guess the twist that punched out the climax, but I just wanted something more surprising to happen, you know?


In the comments: Have you read this book yet? What did you think? If not, why not? (I promise I won't get mad if you disagree, BTW.)
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