Book Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

Clean - Juno Dawson

Clean is the perfect example of a cover and tagline selling a book – I love them both. This YA novel comes with a warning as it deals with sensitive subjects, such as, mental health, eating disorders, self-harm and addiction.


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

Because 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.


As much as the premise for Clean is a great one, this novel fell short of my expectations. Interestingly, if you go to buy this book on Amazon, you’ll see it titled as “Clean: The most addictive novel you’ll read this summer” – and it is addictive in its writing style, accessible and fluid, you can easily fly through its 400 pages. However, it wasn’t addictive in the most important way, the way where you want to keep reading because the story is so good. Granted, I read this novel in one-sitting, but that was due to the fact that I read it as part of a readathon; I didn’t abandon it part way through so that shows it can hold your attention to the end, however, it won’t wow you in any way.

Regarding the sensitive subjects featured in this novel, there was never a part that made me angry at the portrayal, so major points to Dawson for handling this subject matter with care. However, I did feel this novel didn’t tackle these issues in any real dept. While this subject matter didn’t offend, it failed to deliver that human connection that made me offer empathy to these characters beyond the generic hope of them getting better. What I mean by that is, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters – Lexi, the main protagonist, if I remember correctly is seventeen years old, but she came across and much younger and this really bugged me as it made it hard for me to believe in her character.

Clean, as it should be, is aimed at readers 14+ so while it’s YA, it’s definitely not suitable for readers younger than that. I’m nearing 30, but I can see the appeal this novel has for younger readers, it addresses topics that are often viewed as taboo – sex, drugs, self-harm etc – and so this book is a great way to get young people talking about these very real issues. However, Lexi is a rich socialite, so I don’t know how relatable she’ll be. Yes, addiction is blind to class, but the ‘rich girl’ protagonist may be hard for some people to identify with. However, this review is my opinion and I could well be wrong.

The ending was a little rushed, and the direction of the plot a little too smooth, in the sense that I expected a lot more ups and downs. Overall, Clean didn’t work for me, I think it was missing the emotion, the heart, the exploration of how addiction and the young takes shape. I’m glad I read it, (even more glad that I borrowed it from the library) because I would have forever been wondering about it, as books with themes of mental health are of great appeal to me, it’s just a shame this one missed the mark – it wasn’t a bad book, rather, I just wanted so much more from it.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

25 thoughts on “Book Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

  1. Great review, but I don’t think this book is for me personally. Although I have heard so many good praises about Juno Dawson that I just can’t help but feel intrigued to pick out a book by the author!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked this book, but I did feel like because of Lexi’s privilege she was shielded from so many of the negative issues that come from a drug addiction – but then it is a YA so possibly not appropriate to be talking about prostitution/theft/HIV etc. Plus the devastating impact on your family and friends was glossed over. The ending was a bit much for me too. Like you said, it was a page turner but I think that the novel could have been so much more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmm, the author could have possibly held back because it’s YA, but at the same time, if you’re going to address these issues, I think you should address ‘the whole’ – while the money wasn’t an issue, you can get away with not mentioning topics such as theft etc, but I think the family and friends bit was definitely lacking in detail. And, I think 14 years old could cope with reading about the devastating impact.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah my main issue was with how perfectly it all worked out.
        Like I’m all for happy endings but it was a bit much.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I think with these sensitive topics you need the depth – I know this is a YA read but I think it could have went more in-depth and still been suitable for a younger reading audience.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Janel, I read my sisters review of this and wasn’t keen although I have enjoyed Juno’s previous books. Do you think it was trying to be too controversial? 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly wouldn’t recommend making it a priority read, I guess you can’t love ’em all. If you do decide to give it a go in the future, I hope it works out better for you than it did me.


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