Off the Shelf: Only Ever Yours

Only Ever YoursOnly Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Only Ever Yours was loaned to me by my book-pusher & best friend as an You-Must-Read-This & I am so glad that I did. The story was so gripping that I nearly read it one day. Yours is a dystopia that builds on the foundations laid by The Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World and brings something striking and new to the table. Post-post-apocalypse, society has diminished to a more manageable size by walling themselves away in Zones and kept many technological advances, like genetic engineering. Women are designed, trained and divided into three castes meant to serve men for their various needs. Yours takes place in one of these schools and follows frieda and her classmates through their last year, preparing them for the Ceremony, where their castes will be decided.

One of the strengths of Yours takes many cultural expressions and phenomena we’ve seen before and recasts them just-so, making them newly horrific. For me, that moment occurred when one of the eves (what the females are now called) comments on a celebrity beating his wife by saying, “He could beat me whenever he wants.” This sounds remarkable similar to what girls were tweeting about Chris Brown not that long ago. But in the context of the book, the remark is even more horrific because there is no one who tells them “no” or “you don’t have to put up with that” because any other option DOES NOT exist. eves are disposable & they know it & they do not fight it.

Yours is an amazing debut, on par with Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon in voice and substance. The book also leaves many questions unanswered and has an ending that will hurt you, like any good piece of art. Best wishes getting lost in O’Neill’s world & finding your way back.

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