only ever yours

Publication date: 3/7/14
Publisher: Quercus
ISBN: 9781848664159
Source: The proofs shelf at work (I love it when things I have my eye on turn up on there!)

This is a brave step away from the almost complacent dystopia that has been lining the YA shelves recently. Instead of a vaguely futuristic society with apocalyptic problems, Only Ever Yours focuses in on one particular problem, that of a heteronormative ideal that has been naturalised by society. Namely, the patriarchy. This book returns to the core aims of dystopian fiction as a genre and strives to teach us something about ourselves.

That’s not to say this book is flawless, however. There are times when the characters lack depth, and so many things are not explained properly such as the story surrounding one of the main characters, isabel. I’m still not sure that the conclusion of the book really explains her behaviour. There are other annoying little things such as references to “ePads” and “MyFace” – I felt this too obvious a plea for the reader to identify and it wasn’t really necessary to make the connection to our current society so blunt.

I quickly got over that though, and there are also lots of good elements such as the ranking of the girls based on appearance. I particularly enjoyed the critique of social media and the dependence of the girls on sharing their lives online as a means of constructing their identities.

This is not a book for people who want a happy ending; a lot of YA dystopian novels have redeeming endings so I kept expecting things to work out ok, but O’Neill does not give us one here.

Overall, an amazing debut and an incredibly important book for everyone to read regardless of gender, age, or politics. I can’t wait to see what she does next!