Truth or Dare by Non Pratt, published June 2017 by Walker Books.
Read: July 2017
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Issues
Source: Publisher – this does not affect my opinion of the book.
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: 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?
I knew so little about this book going in to it. The book is double-sided in that half the story is told from Claire’s perspective, and then you flip the book over to read Sef’s. As both the front and back of the book act like “covers”, there’s no blurb on it, which means I didn’t know this book involved a brain injury (not a spoiler, as the Goodreads blurb above states the story involves a disability).
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but my mum suffered a life-changing brain injury in 2007, so to say this book struck close-to-home is an understatement. The after-effects of brain injuries vary widely, so she doesn’t have the same issues as Kam in the story, but trust me she has plenty of her own. I identified with Sef and his inability to go and visit Kam. I really struggled with the hospital environment, and mum being in Intensive Care, which ultimately triggered a Post-Traumatic Stress/General Anxiety Disorder that I still have to this day.
I had full-on anxiety attacks for around 5 years after her initial hospitalisation (mine involved getting a hot sweat flush, feeling like I couldn’t breathe/was breathing warm air, feeling dizzy/nauseous, and eventually passing out). Thankfully, they subsided significantly around 4 years ago due to finally receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (which I highly recommend to anyone dealing with mental health problems).
So, yeah. This book struck a chord.
It wouldn’t be fair for me to base my book review on my personal experiences alone. While I felt that element of the book was pretty well handled, there were other aspects of the book that I enjoyed, and a couple that let me down.
I’ve previously said that I don’t like branded social media references in fiction, but for the first time ever an author challenged that for me. The technology references were on point – the growth and development of Claire and Sef’s YouTube channel seemed very realistic (though I don’t know how they hid it from everyone they know IRL?!), and it was really fun to read about their alter-egos.
Truth or Dare also had more diversity than I’m used to seeing in a YA book, which can only be a good thing, and I completely adored the romance in this novel. Not only was it a romance I could get behind, but it was also very sex-positive, which is rare in most books, let alone one aimed at young adults.
However, the romance and story wasn’t without its flaws. While I get that Claire and Sef’s perspectives are obviously going to be different, I felt SO let-down when I flipped to Sef’s perspective. Honestly, his entire persona and Claire’s version of events up to that point felt like a lie. My enjoyment of the novel took a nosedive from that point on (I physically felt my shoulders slump), and it was only with careful consideration almost a week after finishing the book that I could appreciate that the vast differences in perspective might be highly disappointing if you’re shipping these two, but it’s also probably quite realistic. That being said, sometimes I don’t want heart-crushing disappoint and realism in my YA reads, so sadly, that shifted my enjoyment of the whole book.
Overall, I found Truth or Dare to be a decent read that was touching and humorous in parts, but for me it wasn’t a new favourite.
Have you read Truth or Dare? What did you think of the novel? Let me know in the comments!