Wednesday 29 May 2013

You Don't Know Me review

You Don't Know Me
Sophia Bennett
May 6th 2013
Chicken House Books

Sasha, Jodie, Nell and Rose never expected to be famous. They didn’t want to be. In fact, they wanted to keep their band a secret because it’s what they do when they’re being stupid together – dressing up and singing cheesy songs.

But someone has stolen a video they made. It’s online, and it’s been entered into a talent competition. And what’s more … it’s got 24 votes. In only a few hours it’s got 24 votes.

The girls are about to be faced with a big decision that could make them seriously famous.

Just not necessarily the way they hoped …

Sophia Bennett's books have a way of gripping me that I can't explain, especially because they're usually about things that on the surface I wouldn't usually be interested in (modelling, fashion, reality competitions ect), but I just cannot put them down.

As I'm pretty sure you already know, I am a huge fan of books about friendship. It's not something I like to admit because it sounds pretty lame when you say it out loud, but friendships are just great and I think it's brilliant when they're put center stage in a young adult novel, which 90% of the time has a strong romance aspect (I made that figure up, but it's probably pretty accurate.) There is a bit of romance in You Don't Know Me, but it's gentle and overshadowed by Rose and Sasha's friendship. Which was probably one of the most well done friendships I've read about.

You Don't Know Me revolves around four girls - Sasha, Rose, Jodie and Nell who accidentally end up on a sort of reality X-Factor style show called Killer Act as a girl band - the Manic Pixie Dream Girls. However, as tends to happen in books, things do not all go swimmingly and they're faced with the decision to drop one of their members in one of the earlier rounds of the show, and the rest of the book focuses on the repercussions of this decision as well as the general messed-up-edness of the music industry and reality shows and what they'll do to pump up the ratings and the drama.

As I've just said, I'm not that interested in the music industry or how badly some reality shows can treat contestants and how poor the contracts are for protection against things like cyber-bullying which occur as a result of the way in which the show has edited footage to present people, but I could hardly put You Don't Know Me down. I felt so bad for Sasha and the way that she was treated by complete strangers for one mistake she made, especially because we get to read it from her point of view and we know the whole time that she had the best intentions and just wasn't really thinking. But I also really admired her strength and determination to get through it, even when it was really tough, and I liked seeing her relationship with Jodie and Nell get stronger, too, as a result of Rose not really being around much for some of the book.

I genuinely felt for Rose, too. Even when the other three weren't always quite on good terms with her, it was still pretty obvious that she wasn't happy with her circumstances, either, and that she really needed a better support system than she did have. But I was also glad that her success wasn't all wasted and that the music industry as a whole wasn't completely shown as being some horrible horrible place, thanks nice old rockstars like Jim Fisher who live in big mansions with awesome studios and who I want to be friends with (but who is, sadly, fictional.) I think it's important that with all of these problematic industries like music and modelling to show both sides - that yes, they can suck, but that they're also sometimes not completely entirely awful. (Though really, they both need to sort their shit out really, don't they.)

I don't really know what that paragraph was about, but I think there was a couple of points in there somewhere. The sort of romance between Sasha and Dan was really sweet, too, and I'd have liked to have seen more of the rest of the people from Call of Duty (another local band which Dan's a part of) a bit more, too, but we can't have it all. ;) I also really liked how it all worked out and that it was more complex than it first seemed, not just being a romantic subplot for romantic subplots sake.

You Don't Know Me was just fabulous from start to finish and even if it doesn't sound entirely like your cup of tea, I'm pretty certain you'll probably still like it anyway. I can't wait for Sophia Bennett's next book! Think I'll just have to read the Beads series in the meantime.


  1. This sounds fun, and I like the fact that it focuses on friendships first and foremost - it makes a change from the romance-heavy storylines, where sometimes the friends just get forgotten or left out of the story completely!

  2. Dude, it's not lame to like friendship stories at all!! Those are our favorite kinds.

    The story overall sounds quite a bit like the plot to Viva Forever, the Spice Girls musical. Could be a fun read! Certainly glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for bringing it to our attention. :)

  3. You Don't Know Me was my first Sophia Bennett novel, and I have since become quite a fan ;)


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