Review: Truth or Dare
Truth or Dare - Non Pratt
Sooo in my ILLUMICRATE subscription box (which you should all go and subscribe to because it’s lush) there was a book – two books actually but let’s not over complicate – and that book was Truth or Dare by Non Pratt. And I won’t lie: I’ve heard of Non, but I hadn’t heard of this book at all. I liked the cover though (call me fickle, whatever) and after I finished The Hate U Give I thought I’d give it a go mostly because it was there and I wasn’t in the mood to tackle my usual WHAT SHALL I READ NEXT dilemma.
It’s a cool book, actually. I enjoyed it. I do wonder if I need to explore the reasons behind my reading of all the YA ever right now though….do I? Perhaps not this day.
Truth or Dare is about two teenagers – Claire and Sef. Sef’s brother Kam has been in an accident that’s left him with a serious brain injury. The care he needs is expensive though, and Sef’s worried his family can’t afford it, so, he enlists Claire’s help to set up a YouTube channel to try and raise money. Claire hates being the centre of attention and has recently been the target of some pretty nasty bullies so this takes her totally out of her comfort zone. She likes Sef though – likes likes – and she’s been spending time with Kam and so she agrees and how far would you go, the book asks, to help the people you love.
The answer, actually, is pretty far. We’ll get to that.
It’s an easy book to read and it grabs you also. I stopped up til after midnight (gasp!) to read the second half because I very much wanted to know the things. It’s a split narrative and cleverly explores the whole idea of perception versus fact and the whole unreliable narrator thing which – I am always here for that – but it does it differently and cleverly and in a way which makes me say ‘yes’ because it’s really cleverly split into two halves and seriously I cannot tell you enough how much I liked the way this story was executed.
The first half of the book is Claire and through her you get to know what happened to Kam, and how her friendship with him develops through her volunteer work at the rehabilitation centre he’s a patient at. You get to see how she meets Sef and how he’s handling his brothers injuries; you get to see them develop their channel (which is built around increasingly risky dares in exchange for donations towards Kam’s car) and you get to watch the relationship between the two blossom which is actually the sweetest thing, for the most part at least. The whole time Claire’s story was unfolding I was all ‘yep, I ship it.’ You see Claire being the victim of bullying and some pretty nasty sexual harassment. There’s also a pretty cool side story of her two best friends: Seren is Ace; Rich has a crush. That’s all handled pretty well and I like that asexuality is dealt with because it’s a thing you don’t see all that much of – anywhere, not just in YA lit.
It wasn’t perfect: I would have liked more of Kam, and more of Claire and Kam; I wanted to know about him, about his accident and his injuries and his recovery and I was sad that it was all just glossed over, like it was just a crutch for the bigger story; I wanted it to be the story, or at least a more significant part of it than it was. I also got v angry because the way Claire is assaulted at school is NOT OK and I wanted more of that, of the aftermath, how she felt and how it was dealt with. Other than that, I did enjoy it. Claire and Sef were cute and the story flowed nicely and Pratt has a style of writing that’s really easy to read and then there’s this cliffhanger – which, well it’s THE BIG DARE and it’s pretty intense and you’re kind of terrified and kind of really angry and you’re told to flip the book over AND THEN SHIT GETS REAL because you meet Sef.
Like actually properly meet Sef because here’s the thing: up to this point the only Sef you’ve seen is the Sef that Claire knows and with the best will in the world do we ever show our whole selves to a person, especially a person we’re just starting out with, especially when we’re seventeen and especially when there are parts of us we don’t like all that much? No. We do not.
So, you think you know Sef and me? I 90% liked the kid, and then you get to see the real him as he tells his side of the story.
He has tunnel vision, has Sef. He’s entirely focussed on helping Kam for a myriad of reasons, not least a lot of misplaced guilt and you realise pretty quickly that actually, whatever he might actually feel or Claire (or anyone else) it’s secondary to his determination to make things right for Kamran, or at least: as right as he can. He would risk his life, risk Claire’s life, to help his brother and that is both wonderful and also fucked up. His attitude to women is also pretty crappy. & I dunno, I can’t figure him out – what percentage of the whole thing with Claire and him is real and what percentage is Sef just being selfish but then – relationships and love and life, they’re not cut and dry or black and white are they and I LOVE that this shows that.
Truth be told he’s a bit of a (lot of a) dick and you realise that holy rose tinted glasses batman, this kid is not quite who Claire sees him as and some of his justifications for the choices he makes whilst understandable are really fucking shitty and you feel sorry for Claire because she’s so sweet and Sef is an ass.
Except also not an ass because he’s clearly in so much pain and is carrying around a metric fuckton of guilt and all these negative feelings that he doesn’t know how to process. & whilst I am absolutely not making excuses for some of his incredibly questionable choices, you do kind of really get to know him, unravel him and I like that. I like it because you don’t typically get that you know. This book is worth your time purely for that: for the time you get with each of these characters. GIVE ME MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS.
It didn’t blow me away this book, but I did like it, and I did think it was really clever and I’m glad that my pretty box of bookish goodness threw it in my direction. Would I read it again? Perhaps not, I would however read Non Pratt’s other work, should it cross my path.