Truth or Dare
Author: Non Pratt
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: June 1st 2017
Format: Paperback (383 pages)
A powerful and moving novel about bravery from the Guardian’s “writer to watch” Non Pratt, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green and Holly Bourne. How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?
My Rating: ★★★★★
Unlike most, this is the first book by Non Pratt that I have read and I know for sure I will be reading everything from her backlist. Truth or Dare is a marvellous read; it is fun yet gritty, full of love yet tinged with sadness. It had me hooked from beginning to end and I read the whole thing in just two sittings.
Truth or Dare is unusual in its format. You read the first half of the book through Claire’s perspective then you flip the book over (that’s right, actually, physically flip the book) to read parts 2 and 3. Part 2 is all from Sef’s point of view and part 3 flips back and forth between Claire and Sef. I loved the way the book was set out because it almost tricked you into taking sides by letting you get to know one character in their entirety first.
Claire meets Sef (who she may fancy just a little bit) when she starts to volunteer at a neurodisability centre and she is tasked with reading to his brother Kam, who recently suffered a brain injury after a terrible accident. Sef wants to raise money to help pay for Kam’s rehabilitation and so eventually the duo of Truth Girl and Dare Boy is formed and the two set up a YouTube channel. Through a series of sometimes funny and sometimes not funny dares and truths, Claire and Sef bond and we enter a journey of real ups and downs. Their relationship kept me hooked throughout and it felt like it had a different dynamic in each part of the story. I really loved how this book ended, it had me in floods of tears but it just felt completely right for all the characters.
I loved pretty much everything about this book. I loved the messages it sends out to young people especially the importance of holding people accountable for their actions and not just accepting the way you are treated. There is a great moment further into the book where Claire has to accept the fact that if she had reported James earlier on then things wouldn’t have escalated in the way they do (it’s hard to write that and not spoil it!). I particularly loved the way in which Sef’s grief is dealt with. Although his brother is not dead, Sef certainly feels like he has lost him and, although when first starting to read his part I felt completely and utterly betrayed by him, I soon came to understand him and his way a lot more clearly.
I really loved reading a dual narrative written this way as it really showed the importance of understanding there are two sides to every story and how our perceptions can be so different from the truth. It tackles such a range of contemporary issues such as social media, sexuality, disability, bullying, racism and friendship. It felt SO real and being a teacher myself I could make the connections between this book and young people that I know.
The characters are fantastic and I particularly loved Claire’s friend Seren. First of all she has a Welsh name which is always going to be a winner with me but I loved her for who she was. Seren is asexual and aromantic and this is not something which is merely mentioned and then brushed over in the book. Through discussion between the characters, Pratt explains to the reader what being asexual/aromantic means and I liked that other characters were held accountable for making Seren feel uncomfortable and that this was dealt with head on in some great narrative.
The characters are diverse and have many, many layers to them. We see friendships breaking, being made and being built back up again. I love a book where friendship isn’t always easy and Truth or Dare certainly provides that. There are times in this book where our main characters have to really take a step back and examine their own actions to understand why they caused harm to one of their friends and these were some of my favourite moments in the story. Non Pratt certainly captures the teenage spirit and voice like no other.
With fantastic writing and a host of brilliant characters, Truth or Dare is a contemporary novel that is sure to carve itself a place in the hearts of many.
Have you read Truth or Dare? What did you think?
Do you prefer novels with one voice or dual narrative?