This week’s Mini Reviews features three recent, very feminist, YA reads (all chosen in my September TBR by Martha).
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
In Louise’s dystopian world, women are nothing more than sex objects, their ultimate goal to be considered attractive enough for a man to take you as one of his companions until your beauty fades and you reach Termination Date (at the grand old age of 40). Growing old is only for the chastities (teachers) and the idea of being old and locked away from men is the most horrific thing most girls can imagine. The girls are obsessed with weight (they must not be too fat or too skinny), their looks, what others are eating and wearing and how they rank against each other. It is near impossible for a genuine friendship to survive this, but freida and isabel (no capital letters for girl’s names) have something close, until it really matters and frieda distances herself from her suffering friend. This book touches on mental health and the impact of this on body image, as well as the despair of being forced into a life you do not want. The ending to this book is truly horrific and will haunt me for a long time. Only Ever Yours is an uncomfortable but important and brilliant read.
Frat Girl by Kiley Roache
Frat Girl was nothing like I expected, in the best way. I was hooked from the opening pages. Kiley gives an interesting insight into fraternities with a completely fresh perspective: Cassandra is attempting to join one for a research, aiming to expose them as the misogynistic organisations she believes them to be. The concept of pledging for a fraternity, undertaking increasingly embarrassing and dangerous tasks blows my mind, and I’m frankly amazed she didn’t die of alcohol poisoning. For the most part, the boys seem to live up to their stereotypical image, but there is a lesson here about being too quick to judge, as Cassandra finds herself learning a lot more than she bargained for. This book is a great exploration of feminism and toxic masculinity, and how much of that is a product of societal expectations. Cassandra becomes increasingly uncomfortable with her position, and it’s a really interesting change to follow as she finds herself conflicted between her studies and her friends. Her choices cause tension in her family and friendships, which isn’t always easy to read, and when it all hits the fan things get super messy. My only disappointment was that there wasn’t more.
Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
Grace and Fury is the story of sisters Serina and Nomi, set in a world where women are objects to be owned by men, or to serve them. They are not allowed to read or study, just to look pretty and be obedient. Serina has spent her whole life preparing for this life as a Grace (a companion to the Prince), where Nomi will serve as her handmaiden. But their future is thrown into chaos when Nomi is noticed by the Prince for the wrong reasons and is chosen by him, whilst Serina is banished to the prison island, a grim place where women are made to fight to entertain the male guards and win rations for their group. The book is told from the perspectives of both sisters as they try to adapt to their new lives and rebel against the roles society has forced on them. This book is filled with hidden history, secrets, and people who behave in unexpected ways. I found the plot of this fairly predictable for the most part, but it is still an enjoyable read and I will definitely pick up the second book when I reduce my TBR to more manageable levels.
Have you read any of these books? Are you tempted to read any? Can you recommend me any brilliantly feminist books?