Friday, 9 October 2015
Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
Title: Asking For It
Author: Louise O'Neill
Published by: Quercus Books
Publication date: 3rd September 2015
Genres: YA Contemporary/Feminism
Source: Review copy from The Guardian.
Louise O'Neill is back (back again, look who's back, tell a friend, etc) with another important story, this time about rape. It's vital reading for people everywhere and yet it's also something often swept under the rug, especially in YA fiction. This may only be her second book, but it's clear that O'Neill is blazing her own path in literature.
Emma O'Donovan is the girl everyone wants to be. She is beautiful, seems to have time for everyone and is the queen of backhanded compliments. She must be the centre of attention in every situation, and she always needs to look better than her friends - and everyone else, for that matter.
And then Emma is gang-raped at a party and graphic photographs end up all over Facebook. As a result, her world gets smaller and smaller. No one wants to be Emma O'Donovan anymore, and the only person who is truly on her side is Bryan, her older brother. Everyone else thinks she was asking for it.
Reading this book reminded me of massive posters we had around my old school. They said things like '1 in 3 women who are raped are drunk'. I have no idea if that statistic is true, by the way, but it was something along those lines. There were other variations of the poster, too - 1 in 3 women who are raped are on drugs, out by themselves at night, wearing short skirts; the list goes on. Basically, the posters were all about victim-blaming and I'm still appalled that they were allowed on the walls of our school. Proof, I think, that books like this need to exist.
Whilst I loved this book and I'm glad someone finally decided to introduce something so important into YA fiction, I personally think it might have been more beneficial had the court case gone ahead and the boys ended up in prison. It could have encouraged victims to come forward and get justice. But I also know that that doesn't always happen. The victim doesn't always win the court case or come out of it better off, and Asking For It did a good job in highlighting that more needs to be done about that. Highlight text to view spoiler.
Now, I don't totally agree with books having age ratings, but Asking For It has been labelled 16+, and with strong language and graphic scenes I kiiiiind of agree, but I think it's something you have to decide for yourself. Just thought that was worth pointing out. I definitely recommend this and, if you haven't read it yet, Only Ever Yours, the first book by O'Neill. Both are absolutely phenomenal and I can't wait for more!
18 year old book blogger who aspires to work in journalism and/or publishing, and dreams of one day seeing her own work on bookshelves around the world. Amber has been running The Mile Long Bookshelf single-handedly since 2009.