Book Review – Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill


freida lives in a dystopian future in which girls are no longer born naturally but are bred and schooled specifically to become companions for the few thousand powerful men left in the world and their sons to come. Her class is getting ready for the arrival of the boys they will either marry and bear children with or become sexual concubines for.

The pressures exerted on them to look perfect, stay the right weight, dress appealingly and be submissive to the young men they will be “wives” to are a sickening funhouse mirror for the real expectations put upon young women of 2015 by media and commerce but Only Ever Yours goes deeper and plays more viciously than any book of its type usually has the balls to.

Yes, of course, it takes more than a little inspiration from The Handmaid’s Tale but it leaves you with an ending even more daring than Margaret Atwood did. Rarely do I come across a book so willing to finish by smacking you across the head with a sack of doorknobs.

Only Ever Yours was not only my favourite book on the list but one of the best books I’ve read in the last year. If you’re the sort of person who might possibly turn your nose up at YA as “kids stuff” it’s as brutal, real, honest and crushing as anything else you’ll get your hands on at the moment.

It’s not just YA, it’s top-grade speculative fiction and social commentary on 21st century media and how it pressures teenage girls.

Top of the class.

(Only Ever Yours is one of the books I judged for the UK & Ireland YA Book Prize 2015)