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  1. BEWARE - THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS THREAD, FOLLOWING THE TWO REVIEWS I originally posted this review on my book thread, but after a spoilertastic discussion in Noll's book thread, and with others planning to read the book, I thought I'd set up a separate thread where we could discuss some of the issues and plot lines in the book without having to put everything in spoiler tags. Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill Synopsis (from waterstones.com): freida and isabel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions - wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative - life as a concubine - is too horrible to contemplate. But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty - her only asset - in peril. And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. freida must fight for her future - even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known... Shortlisted for the Best Fiction for Teens category of the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2015 Review: If you're looking for dystopian, this is it, and blimey, is it bleak. The book is set at the School, and freida the main character is sixteen and in her final year. But this is not an ordinary school. In a world where girls are no longer conceived and born, females a genetically engineered and then raised by the "chastities" in the school, where they are required to aspire to perfection, and their weight and condition is constantly monitored, and the outside world ranks them according to attractiveness. Sound bleak enough yet? Wait … it gets worse. At the end of their final year, the girls will either be chosen by a boy to be married in order to produce male heirs, or become a concubine or a chastity. Their names start with a lower case letter as they are lesser than men. Their lifespan is forty years, when they go on the pyre. As you follow freida's story, you see the parallels between how girls today face the constant pressure about their image, bombarded with photoshopped pictures of unachievable perfection. As the story unfolds, the oppression of the women gets more and more suffocating, and it gets bleaker and bleaker. And I know I've used that word before, but it's really the only word that can describe this book. That's not to say it's not compelling - I found it difficult to put down - but it's so awful to read what's happening, and the little details (like the uncapitalised names) that aren't necessarily explained, add to the oppression of the women in this society, and which as a reader you can see but the characters in their sheltered lives have no idea about. Having said all that, there is so much about the issue of food and weight, but nothing to explain why it's wrong for that to be the focus of your life, and no alternative for the reader to consider. But it's still such a fascinating read, I wouldn't stop me recommending it. A very dark read, and left me with a desperate hope that all girls today have someone in their lives to tell them their worth is not based on their looks.
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