Only Ever Yours

398p. Quercus. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781623654542; ebk. ISBN 9781623654559.
Gr 9 Up—freida and isabel live at the School, where every element of their world is closely controlled. They have been trained in the ways of perfect femininity, spending all of their time thinking exclusively about their appearances. At 16, the girls are in their final year so they must be more perfect than ever—that's the only way they will be selected as companions. Their fates otherwise are too horrible to contemplate. But isabel, always top in the class, begins to unravel. freida must now figure out what is happening to her best friend while the biggest change, and challenge, in their lives approaches. This British debut takes dystopias to the next level of intensity and bleakness. O'Neill creates a future world where girls are only products and they aren't even worthy of having their names begin with capital letters. Sophisticated readers will be quickly drawn into the horrific landscape and, thanks to the author's deft characterization and strong world-building, will feel the same kind of claustrophobic fear freida and isabel feel. These elements make the book immediate, compelling, and appealingly different. At points, however, the narrative strives too hard to make the dystopian future world an exaggerated mirror of our own, bogging down the plot. This book is dark and unrelenting, there are no revolutions or happy endings to be had here.
VERDICT Recommended as an additional purchase where older teens are looking for more depth in their dystopian fiction.

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