Truth or Dare

Non Pratt’s third novel uses a dual narrative format whereby you turn the book upside down at the half-way point and each protagonist’s story begins at the beginning. The narrators are Claire and Sef. Claire is struggling with self-esteem after a film of her bikini top falling off is seen by everybody in school and beyond, and Sef is trying to cope with mental health issues after his brother Kam sustained a traumatic brain injury in an accident for which he feels responsible. Together they get involved in an online funding campaign to raise money for Kam’s rehab, a campaign which becomes riskier as they become increasingly desperate, and as the public appetite for spectacle becomes insatiable. The plot is propelled by the ubiquity of media and mobile technology, with particular focus on YouTubers and online fundraising.

Truth or Dare is packed with ‘issues’ – Claire’s best friend has difficulty with people accepting her as asexual and aromantic; Sef encounters racial abuse; and Claire is bullied both online and off because of her weight – but this is much more than an issue-driven novel. The characters are strong and believable, and it feels like a bonus when you realise that at the end of Sef’s narrative there is a third section of the novel, blending their narratives and bringing the story to something approaching a hopeful ending, if not a happy-ever-after. Well worth a read.