This review is spoiler free.
“The magic only lasts until midnight.”
Published: 2019, by Quercus Children’s Books.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Feminism, Fiction
Contains: Strong Language, Sexual Content, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse, Drugs, Alcohol.
‘Meat Market’ tells the story of Jana Novak, a tall and gangly teen with androgynous looks who is catapulted into superstardom. She quickly discovers that the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous, with predators at every turn. Jana soon learns an important lesson, that the further you rise, the more devastating your fall.
This book is a new one to me, seeing it everywhere at YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) in 2019 but only just deciding to pick it up. One of the quotes in the bathrooms of the convention is what drew me towards the novel, finding it incredibly powerful, and needless to say, this book is as raw as I expected it to be.
Jana Novak made for an incredibly interesting protagonist. She’s brash, stylish and proud from beginning to end of this novel. Although, there were mistakes made throughout the story, she quickly becomes aware of them and rectifies them, making her an incredibly mature protagonist. She has to grow quite early, adapting to her environments, but that simply makes her more inspiring to read about.
Ferdy was another interesting character, having to adapt to new circumstances along with Jana. His love for her shined through the pages, I absolutely adored their relationship, and it made for a wonderful read. Although, there were times where their relationship was on the rocks, they continued to fight for their love, and it made for beautiful storytelling.
Sabah, however, was quite possibly my favourite character, who was the supportive best friend from beginning to end. Jana made mistakes, and yet she continued to be there for her and fought for their friendship when things were strained. She was a wonderful character to read about, as equally brash and as stylish as her model best friend and I loved that about her.
The novel itself is not one that I’d describe as an easy read. Dawson highlights the troubles and problematic areas of the fashion industry in an extremely blunt way. There are times where you have to put the book down for a while to breathe before submerging yourself into the deep end once more. However, it is definitely a story that needed to be told. Jana’s story is powerful, raw and heart-wrenching and yet it’s also empowering and beautiful. Dawson has a talent for storytelling, that is very much clear within this novel, and regardless of how hard-hitting it is, I didn’t want to put it down.
Overall, this powerful novel was a fascinating read. Jana’s story is one I’ll hold very dear to me, and I’ll definitely be looking into Juno Dawson’s work in the future. Her blunt storytelling is one everyone needs to experience.