Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours gave me an overwhelming sense of gratitude. The dystopian novel tells the story of a future where women can’t be conceived and instead are created. In a world ruled by men, ‘eves’ are now created and schooled with only one aim; to become a perfect wife. When we pick the book up we find ourselves reading about the ‘eve’s final year, the year where they find out if they will become a companion to their dream husband or not. Within five minutes of picking up this book, I was hooked.
Our protagonist is Frieda, to be honest I wasn’t a huge an of her, I found her needy and whiney throughout the entire story however I sympathised with her from time to time, understanding completely how it feels to grow up in a society where people don’t feel good enough and are constantly pressured to be better. The ‘eves’ are constantly competing against each other and finding flaws with their own bodies, so much so that they have a class where two girls go head to head and get comments from the rest of the class on how they should improve themselves. I found this aspect of the book heart-breaking as addresses an issue that the majority of adolescents, male and female, feel today.
Frieda’s best friend, Isabel, was by far my favourite character. For her first fifteen years at The School, Isabel had been the top girl. She was treated differently by the chastity’s (women who run the school) but when it comes to her final year she goes off the rails. While reading I completely loved Isabel, she seemed a much stronger person than the rest of the eves and I could understand why the others looked up to her… She seemed to have her own mind and own opinions. It’s amazing to see as the book progresses how the girls distance themselves from Isabel because she is different, something many can relate to. Although I felt like Isabel was a strong minded character, she still had her doubts; she still competed with the other girls and compares herself to them. By O’Neill addressing the fact that even the strongest girls have doubts and that the girls who look like they don’t care being the ones who care most, it made the novel more real to me.
For me, the most interesting aspect of the novel was the idea that men rule the world. Living in a society where women are constantly fighting for equality, it seems foreign to me, the idea that women can sit back and be happy with men dictating how they live. The women in Only Ever Yours aren’t given a capital letter in their names as they aren’t deemed important enough. When the eves are created they are designed by men with the aim to make them look perfect and when it comes to their final year in school it is the men who chose their companion. The eve they will spend the rest o f their life with has no say in the matter. I loved this universe as it gives a glimpse of how many people used to live and still live today, being ruled by someone else. After reading the book I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the life that I alone am in control of. Although at times it made me feel like I needed to lose a few pounds, it reminded me how lucky I am to have people in my life who like me for more than just my looks, that people like me because they know my personality.