“Judge people on what they have control over. Judge them on the way they treat their friends, or whether they persevere when they can’t do something… Be careful not to confuse a beautiful face with a beautiful heart”.
This book was kindly sent to me by Walker Books, but this has no impact on my review!
When ‘Truth or Dare’ slid through my letterbox and into my hands I have to admit I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t really know anything about the plot and I’ve never actually read any of Non Pratt’s other works (much to the dismay of my friend Jasmine who convinced me to buy Trouble, which I have only read one chapter of!) So seeing as I had some free time and a new book I thought I’d dive in blind – and boy, was it worth it! I read it in just a handful of days because it was so addictive; never was there a moment of boredom and I just thoroughly enjoyed it!
‘Truth or Dare’ is a contemporary YA novel that deals with family, friendship, and love – but really that doesn’t even scratch the surface.
The story follows the joint story of Sef Malik, a daring budding actor trying to deal with his brother Kam’s traumatic brain injury that has left him without “a lot of the skills everyone takes for granted”, and Claire Casey, a victim of online bullying who is thrown into the world of the Malik family and back onto the screens of YouTube alongside Sef in an attempt to raise money for Kam’s treatment for another 6 months. However Non forces the reader to flip the book half way through in order to continue reading from the other protagonist’s point of view, something which could easily be used as simply a gimmick but in fact goes to show one of the larger messages of the novel in an incredibly unique way. Throughout Claire’s part we are led to view events and situations in a certain way, to judge characters based on Claire’s reactions to them. But in Sef’s part we see that a lot of those things really aren’t true. The story itself changes in the accounts of it.
The way this book deals with multiple aspects of social media is so refreshing – you don’t have to be following Non on Twitter to know that she is ‘down wiv da kids’! (Yes I really did just say that!) Social media is such a huge part of everyday life for so many people, especially YouTube too, so to see it realistically presented is so nice, especially since we see the good, the bad, and the ugly. What’s more is, Non manages to balance this important theme with other ones too. She explores disability, and both the primary and secondary impacts of it, racism, and sexuality as well as social media. This is the first book I’ve ever read in which there is an aro ace (aromantic/asexual); and no, her story is not a ‘coming out’ one and no, it is not the focus, but it is tackled so brilliantly and in a way that I think is important for everybody to read about.
Of course I have to mention the romance aspect of this novel, however, although it was incredibly cute and meaningful I felt that the more interesting relationship between the two was their friendship. They’re two people who seemingly have nothing in common except a need to help somebody, and everything stems from there. This is made so much more interesting due to the switch of perspective as we can see the development of their friendship, and later romantic relationship, more clearly and can see how they differed for each character. Also the relationship between the two protagonists and their respective family and friends is really interesting to read – especially as they differ so much.
So to summarise this book is wonderful – although there isn’t the most plot itself Non executes the novel as a whole brilliantly! She integrates important issues in seamlessly and she doesn’t just characterise Claire and Sef and Kam and Seren and everybody else, she brings them to life and has you unwilling to close the book on them.