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 be perfect mounts. isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty - her only asset - in peril.
And then into this sealed female environment, 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...
In the dystopian society of Irish author O'Neill's harrowing debut, freida is a 16-year-old "eve," manufactured by genetic engineers and raised to serve men. The eves (whose individual names are never capitalized in the book, unlike those of men) spend 16 years learning how to avoid "Unacceptable Emotions" such as anger and to scrupulously maintain their appearance, all in the hopes of catching the eye of one of 10 Inheritants, "the very men for whom were created." O'Neill's novel spans the months leading up to the ceremony when freida and her fellow eves will be divided into three groups: companions (akin to wives), concubines, and chastities. Competition, cruelty, and self-critique thrive at freida's school ("We may be perfectly designed, but really our eyes are too close together and our thighs are too big"), yet she can't quite stamp out her skepticism toward the system and her sympathy for herself, her peers, and especially her best friend, isabel. Terrifying and heartbreaking, O'Neill's story reads like an heir to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and M.T. Anderson's Feed, and, like those books, it's sure to be discussed for years to come. Ages 13 up.
Realistic and incredibly harrowing
This book is unique, I have never read anything like it. It's dark and bittersweet and filled with an incredible tangle of emotions!
The start was a bit unnecessarily drawn out, there were a few annoying typos and I would have preferred more answers at the end,
but ultimately I absolutely adored it.