Publication Date: September 3rd 2015
Publisher: Quercus Books
Source: Review copy
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It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.
The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does.
Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes...
A massive thank you to Quercus publishing for sending me a review copy of this novel.
If you don't follow me on my Twitter or Instagram, you are probably unaware of the fact that I am a huge fan of the marvel that is Louise O'Neill. I read her debut novel back in January and was so very excited to read this, her second novel, as soon as possible.
To sum up Asking For It in a sentence, I would have to describe it as being brutally realistic, sharply written and overall an extremely important novel. The novel touches on so many incredibly important topics such as consent, rape, victim shaming, the horrors of social media, family and gender inequality. Although I can not say it is a comfortable read, I was physically appalled and feeling sick at some parts of the novel, it is a necessary read.
Asking For It centres around the protagonist Emma, an 18 year old girl who goes to a party, drinks too much alcohol, takes drugs and passes out. It is the next day when she realises what happened to her and was done to her while she was incapacitated that sets the main plot of the novel going.
One of the many things I enjoyed about the novel was that although the novel is told from Emma's perspective, the reader also gains insights into how this rape has affected people other than the victim themselves, including Emma's family & friends, the boys involved, the town in which they live and the wider worlds reaction to the news. I found it extremely interesting reading about how this event affected not only Emma deeply but almost everyone she was ever in contact with.
I found myself somewhat startled by how "real" Emma was. As a character she was very realistic. I found myself seeing a lot of myself or people I know through the actions of Emma & her friends in this novel. Some of their behavior and thoughts really resonated with me and made me think. I enjoyed the fact that Emma was not in anyways a perfect character, she partied, drank alcohol, took drugs and had sex. She had low self esteem at times and overall came across as an extremely realistic character.
I found Emma's family intriguing to read about. Although I can't say that I liked them, I did feel that Louise had presented the reader with a realistic family and not a perfect idea of what family is like. I found it interesting seeing how the rape had affected the family and their reactions to it.
The setting of the novel was something I really enjoyed, while it was also very familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I have not read many YA novels set in Ireland, even though I am Irish. I highly enjoyed the descriptions of how Irish communities interact, the use of colloquial slang and reading about characters with Irish names. I do hope that the presence of these Irish terms do not confuse readers outside of the UK & Ireland.
One thing I felt was glaringly obvious from reading the novel was the clear amount of work and extensive research Louise must have done before writing this novel. Although the novel is a work of fiction, it almost read as a piece of non-fiction due to Louise's way of laying bare and not dancing around any graphic part of Emma's story. As was evident in Only Ever Yours, Louise possesses incredible writing talent that seems to only get better as time goes on.
I honestly have never felt as many emotions in the space of time between starting this novel to a couple days after finishing it. This novel will make you feel such strong emotions and leave you thinking about if for weeks after finishing it!
If you are reading this review and have never read a novel by Louise O'Neill, I highly recommend you rectify this immediately!
In conclusion Asking For It is a novel that touches on so many incredibly important topics such as, consent, rape, victim shaming, the horrors of social media, family and gender inequality. This novel is one that is both relevant and terrifying. It is one that should be read by everyone, taught in schools, talked about and used to bring about discussion on these issues.
Honestly one of the best novels I've read not only this year but in my life.
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