Have you ever wondered what happens to those groups who are told one member isn’t working on a TV talent show? What happens when you have to chose between fame and your friendships? This is exactly what Sophia Bennett explores in her new YA novel, You Don’t Know Me.
I used to love the X-Factor when it was first released, but as it got more and more about bad auditions and the humour in them, something I felt uncomfortable with, I switched off (now it’s all about The Voice). However I remember watching groups being forced to make these decisions occasionally about dumping a member so as soon as I read the summary for Sophia Bennett’s new book, I knew I had to read it.
You Don’t Know Me is told through Sasha’s point of view and tells the story of her and three of her very close friends. When they are unintentionally entered on Killer Act, a talent competition for under-18’s with a song they wrote – a competition here the winner gets to be the face of Interface (a facebook/twitter equivalent) – they are catapulted to prominence in their local community. Suddenly strangers are voting for them and people setting their song as their ringtone and before they know it they’ve qualified for the judges.
However the judges tell them something -someone, Rose- isn’t quite right and they have to decide whether to proceed as a trio or not.
I thought that the dilemma here was really well handled. Sasha and her friends make an impulse decision and really have to pay for it. I thought the media manipulation was very realistic and sadly the editing was too. Seriously, if you ever watch a documentary or reality show listen to the voices carefully and you can often hear the change in tone or pitch when it’s been edited together. The manipulation that happens in the second third of the book, one I won’t spoil for you, was something I could really see happening as damage control.
Sasha was a very relatable narrator. I genuinely believed she didn’t realise the greater impact on Rose, and why the judges really didn’t want her in, or see how it would all snowball when they were first told to go forward as a trio. I loved how as the book progressed she discovered her love of music more and began songwriting too. I absolutely adored Danny as a character too. Danny is the guitarist in another local band and he begins to befriend Sasha after Killer Act. I also really liked the twists that Bennett added here and the way she managed to shy away from where I thought she was going to go with this plot.
Overall, You Don’t Know Me is a brilliant, telling story about media, celebrity and fame in the age of the internet that I think teens will really enjoy. It feels so realistic to its situation and Sasha is a great narrator as she tries to work out the best way to proceed after her life seems to blow up in front of her. I started this book as soon as it arrived and I absolutely devoured it. I would say this is my favourite of Bennett’s books yet. You Don’t Know Me will be released on May 6th and is published by Chicken House. I received a free copy for (honest) reviewing purposes.