‘Only Ever Yours’ by Louise O’Neill is set in a terrifying dystopian world where women are bred to be companions and concubines for the men. Only a select few are chosen to be the wives of the next generation of men, to bear them sons, and as the selection comes ever closer, the pressure mounts to maintain perfection.
I read the book, seemingly holding my breath, in a trance that could not be broken. The book held me in its grasp as I hoped for the characters and feared for them, with things stepping up to the boil right up until the end. So much so, that when I closed the page, all the emotions hit me and I cried. I very rarely cry at books, but the ending was so good that it had that effect.
It was a fantastic book, with a concept that really makes you think and step back from this world to take a look at it. I particularly found the detail on only have the men’s names capitalised effective – it highlighting how inferior the women in this story actually were.
Though, it was not without its faults. The novel did take a while for me to get into. The first chapter is amazing, but after that the story seems to falter for a short while until things really start to kick off. But once they did, you could not put the book down. I also found it quite difficult to like some of the characters. While I can appreciate that part of this is due to the world they were brought up, some I just struggled to understand, especially chastity-ruth, whose attitude towards freida felt really off, even after the kind of explanation at the end. It felt a little like she was just there to have an antagonist.
Otherwise, this is a novel that definitely needs to be read and discussed. It is full of important themes and is well-written and well-developed on top of that. I think it is probably one of my favourite books of the year.