Details: Jana Novak is catapulted to superstardom when she’s scouted by a model agency. But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous, and there are predators at every turn.
Meat Market is the read of 2019!
I’ve read all of Juno’s work since 2014 and I’d just arrived in London. I’d been given news that an amazing up and coming author who loved Point Horror just as much as me was going to be a contestant on a literary radio game show. Juno was the first published author I’d ever met and the experience was AMAZING.
I can’t deny that Juno’s back catalogue represents a talent I’ve not seen elsewhere in a long time. However, even then, there was just something about Juno’s books that didn’t match the person I’d met.
Then came Clean and I realised what it was. Juno had yet to give her full self to her books, Hell, everything before Clean is flawlessly written and I adore Say Her Name (It’s my favourite non PH EVER), but Clean was real. There was no holding back and it’s what made it the success it was.
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think Juno could do better. Not because of any limitations, but because I didn’t think anyone could craft something better than Clean.
Then I got two chapters into Meat Market and I realised just quite how wrong I was. What hit me first was that voice. It was a carefully crafted, fully engaging and lyrically beautiful voice that Jana was given. I’ve never wanted to be a model (I’m 5’5 and a hippo in human skin. Seriously, I often think there’s a hidden zipper back there and a Slitheen is going to come farting its way out), so I was half expecting this to be a surface read for me, but I was full invested before we even left Thorpe Park.
The story pulls no punches and you get an itchy sense of foreboding very early on, but you do fall under the same spell as Jana and you are convinced that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Until they really, truly, fucking are and as a reader, you’ll be gasping for air and begging your stomach to keep calm.
It mirrors the time so aptly, so cleverly, that Juno Dawson will forever be the woman that has done for modelling, vulnerable young girls using YA literature what Shonda Rhymes has done for women, people of colour and politics within the realms of TV.
Meat Market is not a book you go into to enjoy, there are elements that make that a side effect. No, you read Meat Market to become an educated, informed and empowered individual regardless of gender. This is a book that makes you feel uncomfortable, demands you sit up and evaluate the systems that society have allowed to exist for too long. Dawson dares you to understand that there are no excuses left, that there’s nowhere predators should be allowed to hide and, most importantly, that no one should ever accept being shut down or silenced when it comes to the #metoo movement.
We often talk about how Handmaid’s Tale is a groundbreaking, trailblazing, story that is still relevant today. It would be so easy to compare Meat Market to Atwood’s dystopian future, but it would do Juno Dawson a disservice. What Dawson has done is groundbreaking in its own merit.