I should have known, I should have known that I was in for a rough ride with this one. After reading Louise O’Neill’s other novel, Asking For It, I should have been prepared for another bleak ending. And this one really, really shone in that department. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, and it was certainly a very different book to get other one, but don’t come here looking for a happy ending.
There is a running theme between Louise O’Neill’s two novels: the logical extension of how we as a society treat women. In Only Ever Yours the future world is wrecked, only male babies are born and girls are designed and raised in schools to be the perfect companions or concubines for men, or as chastities to raise the next generation of girls. Those deemed unworthy are ‘sent underground’ and girls are ranked and pit against one another from infancy. It’s not a pleasant vision, but it’s anchored in truth and therefore all the more scary. There’s ‘ideal’ body weights, slut-shaming, boys with zero likeable personality that are somehow still viewed as ‘superior’, hypocrisy and the hatred of ‘other’. It’s extreme, and some might say unrealistic, but I think it’s definitely the worst case scenario of attitudes we see today.
I did read the subtext of this one completely wrong. Or completely right and the ending was really sad. I was expecting the plot to head towards an LGBT relationship, but it was strangely dangled in sight but never came to be.
It wasn’t my favourite of the two books of hers I’ve read, but I’m a sucker for a dystopia and it was at least an entertaining mix of Mean Girls and Brave New World.