Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

Title: Clean

Author: Juno Dawson

Publisher: Hatchette Children’s Group

Pub date: 5th April 2018

”I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.’

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all…

It’s a dirty business getting clean…’

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Clean and have been wanting to read it for a while. It did not disappoint. It’s actually not my usual sort of read, but I just couldn’t put it down once I’d started. Clean does not pull any punches and, despite the glamorous lifestyle of the protagonist, crafts a believable and engaging narrative that is not afraid to make you flinch.

At the book’s opening, Lexi is not a likeable character, leaving you wondering whether she’s going to demonstrate some redeeming features and make you want to root for her. She’s crass, she’s arrogant, she has the world at her fingertips, and yet there are glimpses of vulnerability and something darker – beyond addiction – driving her to be as she is, creating a compelling character whether you truly want to like her or not. The cast she meets in rehab are equally damaged and mostly subtly charming in their own ways, each present in the facility for a variety of addictions that lead to exploration of what addiction actually is and the impact it can have on a person’s life – and whether anyone really wants to be ‘free’ of it.

The use of bad language is frequent and can seem a little too much at the beginning, yet it becomes another part of Lexi’s ‘voice’ that you soon adjust to. It feels like another layer of her armour that is gradually chipped away at. Given the world that she lives in and the situation in which she finds herself, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how young she is. On the other hand, it’s her determination to seem grown-up and take what control she can of her life that often leads to her greatest mistakes and desire to lash out in a childish manner.

To have a main character that you can so strongly dislike at the beginning and not want to part with by the end is, in my opinion, the mark of vivid story and strong characterisation well worth reading, even if the subject matter might not make it easy. Highly recommended. It’s been nearly a month since I read Clean and I still feel as if I haven’t entirely left it behind. Get a copy of this one ASAP.

I received an ARC of Clean from NetGalley and the publisher.

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