I decided to read Only Ever Yours after a good friend recommended it to me. It came with a warning…you will hate it and you will love it.

For the most part, I’d have to agree.

The Stats

Published by: Quercus Children’s Books
Number of Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Buy hereOnly Ever Yours

 

The Story

The story is set in a dystopian world where women have very few roles available to them – they can either be a wife, prostitute or concubine.

Essentially, women exist for the sole gratification of men.

The story focusses on a group of girls in their final year of school, before they’re due to go off and fulfil these roles within society.

The Theme 

The theme in this novel is quite clear – society’s absolute obsession with how women look and act.

What is interesting is that male characters aren’t introduced into the novel until quite late on, probably around the final third.

Louise instead focuses on how women treat each other, how they judge each other and the dynamics of female friendships and relationships.

I think this is a brave move.

It’s clear the girls live in a patriarchal society. However, the book examines how women react to this – the competition, the bitchy remarks, the bullying and the desperation to be liked and praised are all part of the world Louise presents, and sickeningly, it’s pretty damn close to real life.

It’s Mean Girls….x1000!

For example, if a girl is over 115lbs, they’re brought to the front of the class, and other girls will tell them that they are fat, disgusting, worthless, etc.

Which, for someone like me, who likes to eat a lot of biscuits (custard creams if you must know) while reading a good book, it made me feel pretty shitty! Genuinely! I actually put my biscuits down while reading it, which, for anyone that knows me, is a pretty hard thing for me to do.

The Characters

There are two main characters in the book, Freida and Isabel (or freida and isabel without the capitals, as it is in the book – extra clever!)

Freida narrates the book in the first person, and we do get inside her head. And trust me, her head is not a nice place to be at times.

She’s self-destructive, desperate, and mean – if you think of the term ‘strong female character’,  just think of the exact opposite of that!

But the thing is, I still rooted for her. I still wanted her to succeed. I still stomped my feet in sheer frustration when she messed up. There are times when I wanted to jump into the book and physically shake her! Never, have I read a more frustrating character, but that’s a testament to Louise, she still gets me to turn the page.

In fact, pretty much all the characters are horrible, and yes, this certainly has something to do with the world in which they live, but still, it’s difficult to read.

There is one saving grace in the novel – Isabel. She is the one person who makes the book bearable to read in places.

Sex, Violence, Language 

A rating for parents, guardians, librarians and anyone who fancies knowing!

Sex

There is one sex scene, which I feel Louise writes exceptionally well. Louise tackles the pressure girls face the first time they have sex, and I think this would be appropriate for both teenage girls and boys to read.

Violence

No violence at all.

Language

Language is quite interesting, as women aren’t allowed to use bad language as it is attributed to ‘female hysteria’. So, there isn’t much bad language, but there is some.

My rating

This was hard. Immensely hard!

Did I enjoy the book – no.

Is it a happy book – ha! No.

But it is something that will stay with me for a very long time? Yes.

I think we all read books that are good but easily forgettable. This book does not belong in the easily forgettable category. It’s haunting, chilling and exceptionally written.

There are times in the book when I didn’t enjoy it. Like, at all.

I pretty much hated every character.

However.

I would still give it 5/5

This is a book I recommend everyone should read. It’s an eye-opening insight into a dystopian world that’s chillingly close to real life.

5 Stars

Author: Lyndsay