[Review] Only Ever Yours - Louise O’Neill

Title of Book: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise O’Neill
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Year: 2015
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400

WINNER OF THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR AWARD: The Handmaid's Tale meets Mean Girls in the award-winning, critically acclaimed debut
eves are designed, not made.
The School trains them to be pretty
The School trains them to be good.
The School trains them to Always be Willing.
All their lives, the eves have been waiting. Now, they are ready for the outside world.
companion . . . concubine . . . or chastity
Only the best will be chosen.
And only the Men decide.


Girls are not born; they are created within certain standards. These girls, who are then called the eves, are later trained in a specialized school. They are trained so they can fulfill their role in society, whether it’s to be a companion (basically a housewife), concubine, or chastity (a teacher). But their main role is basically to support the Men. Those are the rules in this dystopian society which is the setting of Only Ever Yours.

freida is one of the eves who are in their sixteenth year. By the end of the school year freida and her friends will attend a ceremony that will decide what they would be after graduation. freida and her best friend isabel aspire to be companions. But that year, there’s something wrong with isabel. She rebels against the rules and tries to gain weight above the standard. Isabel isolates herself against the others including freida. This drives freida to seek friendship in other eves who are unfortunately your typical mean girls in high school setting. 

When I start reading this book, I didn’t know what it’s about. The only thing I know about this book is that it’s a young adult version of the Handmaid’s Tale. The fact that I haven’t read the Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t help. For someone who knows nothing, I must say this book is not necessarily easy to read. I had a hard time adapting to this book’s dystopian world. While I understand that this book is meant to invoke conversation about misogyny, the world’s rules and customs came out too dramatize to me; to the point that it felt unbelievable. Then again, when I think about it more, what happen in this book is not that uncommon in our real world. The difference is, in our world the misogyny is implied while in this book, it’s so common that it becomes a rule in the society.  

In this book, it’s clear that women are objects. The society doesn’t see them as human beings. To put it harshly, women in this book are the lowest in the society. Earlier, I didn’t use capital letters in the beginning of the eves’ names. That’s because it’s how they are represented in the book. They are not important to the point that they don’t even deserve a capital letter in the beginning of their names. It’s unsettling. Not only that, Only Ever Yours also talks about sexual abuse, eating disorder, and bullying.

Other thing that I should point out is how this book portrays the relationship between the girls. I think this book perfectly shows how toxic friendship between girls can be. In a place where women don’t have anyone to rely on besides each other, it would be logical to help and support each other. But sadly that’s not what usually happens and this book could capture that realistically. It can be seen in Megan’s so called friendship with the other eves in this book.

Only Ever Yours is one of the books that I think everyone should read. It has its shortcoming and it can be unsettling. But this book is not supposed to make us comfortable. It’s supposed to induce an important conversation that’s relevant to current climate. I recommend this book to read.


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