I don't usually finish books I don't like, but somehow I persevered with this one. It wasn't the most painful read, and I guess I wanted to know what happened, despite my not being invested in any of the characters. I think O'Neill was going for a YA Handmaid's Tale, which I also didn't care for, so maybe it's me. Or maybe it's a generational thing, with O'Neill appealing to a millennial readership when I'm a fusty GenXer.
Anyway, the premise is that in this world, girls are raised to be wives or concubines, with a rare few serving instead as support for the girls. At 17 they are either chosen by one of the boys born the same year the girls were hatched, or they become sex slaves, which it turns out could be preferable to marrying most of the guys. The girls are designed to be beautiful, and spend most of their time exercising and learning to be even more beautiful. You can imagine what being in constant competition and not being taught to read might do to teenager girls. It's not...pretty.
There were a few themes O'Neill hints at but doesn't really explore, like lesbianism and racial beauty standards, that I'd like to have seen throughout the novel in a more meaningful way.