Meat Market by Juno Dawson | Book Reviews | Young Adult

By Swirl and Thread

‘Honest and raw, this is a timely exposé of the dark underbelly of the fashion industry’

Meat Market is the shocking recent novel from Juno Dawson. Published with Quercus Children’s Books, it is aimed at readers of 14+ but it will horrify and outrage any adult reader, due to the current relevance of the theme running through the story. I received an advance copy earlier in the year and, to be honest, I was slow to pick it up due to it being a book in the YA genre but having seen a recent review on Instagram, I was fascinated and a little intrigued to see for myself what the book was about. Having now read it, I can honestly say that I was appalled by the hard-hitting content. Juno Dawson has created a fictional exposé with a very very authentic feel. We are currently in the midst of a ‘conversation’, one that needed to take place and Meat Market is the perfect vehicle to encourage it’s continuation.

‘A rags-to-riches story with a difference, Meat Market was inspired by Juno’s experiences working on the fringes of the fashion industry as a journalist and occasional model. Written before the Weinstein scandal broke and following two years of research with access to models, editors and agents, the ‘glamorous’ world of fashion became her landscape. Seduced by the air-brushed world of perfect, Juno realised there was something wrong with the picture; that the exploitation of young girls is still evident, and that fashion and beauty needs to be ‘part of a much bigger feminist conversation.’

Meat Market is very derogatory term for a nightclub or any location where people are viewed as merchandise. Juno Dawson uses the term here to refer to the fashion world, a place where the model is no longer a person, just a means to an end for the agent, the photographer, the designer and others.

Jana Novak is young. She has friends, she has a boyfriend and a family who all love her dearly. All her life Jana has been picked on for her looks and her height, but Jana has learnt to deal with the begrudgers, the bullies, the name-callers and has a built a strong shell, allowing her to ignore the jibes and hurtful remarks. A chance meeting with a spotter for a model agency at a theme park is the catalyst that changes everything for Jana, taking her on the most unexpected journey.

Jana is scouted by Prestige Models, a fictitious agency. Jana has that look, that androgynous look that has become fashionable, a look that is seen on catwalks from London to New York. Jana is initially skeptical of signing any contract but when she sees the money involved, she realises what she could have, what she could do, the difference she could make to her family. An overnight success, Jana is swept along on the mayhem and chaos, but she is exhausted and lonely. Jana begins to miss her old life, but is only too aware that her friends’ lives and hers are now poles apart.

As Jana’s life starts to lose control, cracks begin to appear and the secret layers of the fashion world begin to reveal themselves. Jana has a major life-changing experience, one that she cannot turn her back on, one that she must follow through. As her personal life comes crashing down, Jana finds the strength to push on and to see things through to the end, but at what cost?

Meat Market is an important book for teenagers, highlighting the whole theme of body-image and the obsession for perfection. In this filtered world that many teens now live in, the goal of that perfect body, that perfect life is real. Juno Dawson has pulled back the curtain and exposed the reality of the fashion industry, both the good and the unsavoury. Jana Novak is fictional but the message is clear….. ‘in an era of #TimesUp and #MeToo, it might just be Juno Dawson’s most important book yet.’

Meat Market is a very convincing and credible read, a very compelling story and one that I would encourage young girls to read. It’s a frightening eye-opener of how everything that glitters is most certainly not gold. It’s hard-hitting and packed with emotions with a storyline that just grabs the reader’s attention 100%.

I recommend….

‘How can beauty be so ugly?’

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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