Tag Archives: sex

Adam Created eve and the eves Served the Inheritants in ‘Only Ever Yours’

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

OnlyEverYours

Plot: 20/20                                             

frieda and isabel have been friends their whole lives. Groomed as eves at a Euro-zone school, they must go head-to-head to secure their Inheritant – to secure their future – unless they want to face a future as a concubine. As the pressure increases, isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her only asset – her beauty – in peril. The boys – the Inheritants – arrive and are eager to choose a bride but can Frieda’s and Isabel’s friendship survive the ceremony?

The story takes place in a male-dominated dystopia and it’s absolutely fascinating. O’Neill touches on bulimia, anorexia, drug use, sex and misogyny and O’Neill obstacles for frieda that compel you to read further while simultaneously disturbing the reader.

Narration: 20/20

O’Neill injects character into the narrative but better still, she earths us in frieda’s mind so that we’re almost literally seeing everything through her eyes, feeling every emotion and hearing every thought. frieda is a character who struggles to uphold her social responsibilities as this wars with her character and we get inside her head and discover her anxieties, fears and insecurities.

Character: 20/20

I love the characters because, although they are always striving for perfection, ultimately we see the cracks in who they are and who they’re pretending to be. We see the malicious megan, the insecure and unsure frieda, the indifferent yet caring isabel and the cruel chastity-ruth. It’s interesting as well because there’s layers to every character. frieda is struggling to discover herself in an environment where she is being trained to serve men. When she stops taking her pills and chastity-anne hands her them, she has an internal struggle; she doesn’t want to take them but she knows she must because that is what man has dictated. We see it with Megan too. She’ll lie and betray everyone around her to climb to the top. She tells frieda that she’s not a bitch, she’s just doing what she was created and taught to do. It’s these internal struggles and the oppressive nature of the world that give each character a duality; a duality that we can’t always see but makes the reader wonder about other facets of the characters exist. Everything down to the names (Darwin, in particular) conveys character. Genius

Quality of Writing: 20/20

The writing is phenomenal. Jeanette Winterson summed it perfectly when she said that O’Neill “writes with a scalpel” and here’s the proof:

  • “… flickering images anaesthizing us into silence.”
  • “Why do I feel as if there is limescale building up inside of me, clogging my air supply?”
  • “The words fill my mouth like marbles, crammed too tight for them to escape.”
  • “It doesn’t feel like a bridge, I think as she leaves. A bridge would feel some way steady. This feels more like I’m balancing on a tightrope of cobwebs.”
  • “The room expands and contracts like an accordion.”

Setting: 10/10

O’Neill creates and shapes a new world, which to me, is a portrait of our world under a microscope and holds kernels of parallel truth for our own society.Her world-building abilities are second to none. She builds a world even though we only see the school. She anchors us in a particular place and reinforces it with societal elements. The eves’ PE classes are basically pole-dancing lessons and they are forced to carry out domesticated tasks like baking in order to gain favour from the Inheritants. Adam created eve. The eves take pills to supprsess their “Unacceptable Emotions”. eves (women) live only to serve the Inheritants (men); a chastity must have her womb cut out and her head shaved in order to sacrifice of all herself to man; a companion lives to serve her husband; a concubine exists to fulfil a man’s carnal desires. Anything that jeopardizes the balance is eradicated; lesbianism is viewed as an act of defiance and the last time it happened, they sewed up their private parts and shot them through the head. This really captures how high the stakes are for the eves; they can’t put a step wrong if they want to survive.

Comparative Literature: 10/10

I’ve honestly never read a dystopian story as powerful as this. The Hunger Games, though not wholly original, was always the pinnacle for me of dytopian fiction but O’Neill has produced something that is flawless; a story that deeply disturbed me.

Overall Score: 100/100

Rate it or Slate it?

Rate it: Winner of the inaugural YA Book Prize and rightly so. Dystopia that delivers on all levels. Dark and edgy and as Jeanette Winterson summed up: “O’Neill writes with a scalpel”.

Books You May Also Like:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – for a similarly cut-throat, dystopian world of betrayal and secrets

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – for an adventure into the unknown with secrets, betrayals and deceit galore

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Trouble Commands Your Attention From The Word Sex…

 

TROUBLE

Trouble by Non Pratt

 

Plot: 19/20

In a nutshell. Hannah gets knocked up at 15 and the new boy, Aaron, offers to be the baby daddy. My instant reaction was a little something like…

Judge

And then I read the first line.

Darth Sidious B

And the first page:

Book Addiction D

You get the idea. The information is slowly released and the pace is fast. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end that quite cleverly falls in line with Hannah’s first, second and third trimesters. The only thing I can fault is that the Katie debacle is never addressed. It feels like it’s left hanging but I guess it’s not a major issue. If you read the first seven pages and you don’t like it, then maybe it’s not the book for you, and in that case…

sit with

But if you read it and enjoyed the story, comment below. Even if you didn’t, tell me why.

 

Narration: 18/20

The narration is told by both Hannah and Aaron. Hannah as narrator is spot-on, demonstrating a sometimes slutty, sometimes sassy attitude. Her vulnerable moments are gold and pull at your heartstrings (before I read this, I didn’t even know I HAD heartstrings!). It makes you laugh and it very nearly made me cry. Aaron’s narration is as distinct as Hannah’s though at times, he uses rather advanced vocabulary for a 15-year-old but that aside, it’s flawless.

 

Character: 20/20

The characterization is outstanding. I’m not going to rattle on and on about how (im)perfect her characters are or how Hannah is probably one of my favorite YA characters of the year. Instead, I’m going to quote some of the lines that stuck with me:

  • “Tilly has a boyfriend, but their relationship brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “taking it slowly”. They’re practically taking it backwards” – HANNAH
  • “Katie overshares to the point that I could play pick-the-ex by looking at nothing more than snapshots of their penises.” – HANNAH
  • “It’s Mark Grey that answers and he’s so drunk he doesn’t bother talking to our faces, just our tits.” HANNAH
  • “It’s a bad sign when you don’t understand the first question. Even worse if you don’t understand the first fucking page.” – HANNAH
  • “I didn’t recognize the boy, but he sounded very pleased with what was happening – my best mate bouncing around on him like a space hopper, her back to me.” – HANNAH
  • “I can smell myself, which is not a good sign, but I’m past caring. I guess that’s not a great sign either.” – AARON
  • “‘So… what now? You popped your cherry on your holibobs and now you’ve confessed it’ll magically grow back?” – AARON
  • “Mom picks me up after Physics… Watching The Big Bang Theory with Robert was a waste of time.” – HANNAH

 

Quality of Writing: 20/20

Aaron’s poetic descriptions are balanced by Hannah’s crude but real observations. Both characters represent two very different kinds of teenager and I think the writing makes the issue approachable and teaches a lesson while still managing to entertain.

  • “Katie then launches into a full-blown character assassination, as she adds some last-minute touches to her make-up.”
  • “She’s wearing a woolly beanie pulled low to cover her ears and it’s pushing the tip of her fringe across her face like a bird’s wing.”

 Examples

 

Setting: 8/10

I wish I got a little more scene-setting. I know where I am most of the time but I still want to be able to visualize the environment. I get enough to piece together the kind of places Hannah’s and Aaron’s journeys take them on but I want to know more.

 

Comparative Literature: 10/10

I haven’t read any other books on pregnancy (and I’m guessing I’m not exactly the target market) but I loved every minute of this book. It reminds me of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why in the profound and haunting way he deals with suicide and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower where Charlie confronts his emotional and traumatic repression, his social anxieties and his depression. What’s more, Pratt’s depiction of pregnancy is educational, humorous, tragic and so much more.

 

NOW, to Skip to the GOOD BIT:

  • Sharp, dual narrators that depict two different kinds of teenager
  • Secrets and lie that are waiting for the opportune time to shock the reader
  • Fully-realized, relatable, human characters
  • A story that will ensnare you with the first line and never let you go

Overall Score: 95/100

Books You May Also Like:

Popular by Maya Van Wagenen – for an underdog’s story about making friends and what it means to be popular

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – for another story that deals with the another big social issue – suicide – and will change the way you think

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