Juno Dawson is the queen of gritty, hard-hitting contemporary Young Adult fiction and her latest release, Meat Market, is no exception. Like her previous novel Clean, Meat Market brings the harsh realities of adult issues into the spotlight for young adults.
Meat Market focuses on the reality of the fashion and beauty industry. Main protagonist Jana is scouted by a modelling agency while on a school trip and the story follows her subsequent career. Through Jana, you learn the brutal truth behind the industry and the impact it can have on impressionable young women manipulating their lives to fit the beauty standard ‘ideals’.
Dawson’s writing is addictive and, like Jana, you become sucked into this glamorous lifestyle that appeals to so many. It is very clear that Dawson has undertaken a huge amount of research for this novel, as the shoots and catwalk shows are described so immersively.
I felt a real connection to Jana throughout the novel and Dawson’s storytelling makes it feel like you are going on the journey with her. This heightens your emotions at various points in the book, as you want Jana to be protected and avoid the dark settings and situations she often ends up in.
Meat Market is also an excellent reflection of the recent #MeToo movement, especially towards the end. Without spoiling the plot, it is safe to say the solidarity between the characters is really heartwarming and provides a nice contrast to the grittier portrayal of society.
I could not put this book down until I had finished and would highly recommend it to other readers. Be aware, though, that it contains a lot of possible triggers and strong language so I would research it and its themes first.