Title: Meat Market
Author: Juno Dawson
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group, Quercus
Publication Date: 23rd May 2019
Jana Novak’s history sounds like a classic model cliché: tall and gangly, she’s uncomfortable with her androgynous looks until she’s unexpectedly scouted and catapulted to superstardom.
But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous. And there are unexpected predators at every turn.
Jana is an ordinary girl from a south London estate, lifted to unimaginable heights. But the further you rise, the more devastating your fall …
This is the first book I’ve read by Juno Dawson and it definitely won’t be the last. Meat Market follows Jana, a 17 year old from London, as she is very unexpectedly scouted to become a model. We follow her through the extreme highs and lows of her new life and get an intimate look at the perils of the fashion industry. There is a preface to the book where Dawson highlights the research that went into the story and her reasons for writing it. Her words demonstrate how much care she has taken to give an accurate representation of what many young men and woman go through.
I loved this book. I read it super fast and somehow found it depressing and hopeful both at the same time. Unfortunately many of the stereotypical problems with the modelling industry are true just as they have been proved rampant in the entertainment industry with the #metoo movement. There are plenty terribly behaved people in Meat Market that treat Jana horrendously. Every situation she found herself in rang very true and in my view are sadly wholly believable. Aside from the abuse in the industry there is also the very real issue of eating disorders and body image. It is made clear in this book that whether or not anyone will admit it ( and it’s likely they won’t) there is still a tremendous pressure to look unhealthily thin in a way that is virtually impossible to achieve and damaging to young women all over the world. I have a family member who has struggled with anorexia and I am very aware of the role the fashion industry has played in causing/worsening it.
I’m so glad books like Meat Market are out there for any young woman who has looked at a model in a magazine and felt terrible about themselves. Jana is an inspirational character and I really rooted for her all the way through . She felt like a realistic teenager with normal hang-ups and a genuine strength. She realises how many things are wrong in the world she has been thrown into and I loved watching her take some power back. I wish every teenager would read this book – it’s smart, totally unpatronising and a perceptive look at the fashion industry. I also loved that whilst it does demonstrate the dark aspects of fashion, it also shows that there are good, honest and kind people working within that bubble which is a hopeful thought.
I received this book through Netgalley. My review is my own honest opinion.