Title: The X Factor: Confessions of a Naive Fashion Model
Author: Ivan Sivec, translated by Tjasa Kosir
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Note: I was given a free copy of the eBook in exchange for a review.
Maja’s dream is to be an actress, the next Marilyn Monroe, and she is persuaded that the way to get there is through modelling. However, the road to being a fashion model is a challenging one, especially for such a young and naive girl such as Maja. During her climb to the top, she falls into a world of drugs and exploitation, from which she must battle to escape.
This is the first book of its kind that I have read. It was a really interesting look into a world I know very little about. I really struggled to connect with Maja, the protagonist – she was cocky and confident, and I found those traits really difficult to relate to! Nevertheless, it was tough to follow her on her journey, when it was clear that things could only end badly; Maja keeps more and more secrets from her family, and enters into the world of modelling with very little planning or knowledge about the road ahead. This makes it an exciting read, and the reader is as naive as poor Maja in this respect!
The modelling world attracts a lot of unpleasant personalities. I had mixed emotions towards Maja’s boyfriend, who seemed for the most part torn between loving his girlfriend and exploiting her, flicking between being insecure and merely business-minded. Aside from her partner, Maja’s first contact in her modelling career is Egon, whose motives I felt were suspicious from the outset – it all starts when he sees her at a party, and feels she has the ‘X Factor’. From her encounter with him, she is easily seduced with the promise of stardom, and single-minded in reaching her goals. It was frightening to see how easy it was for the characters to influence young girls, especially seeing that the book was based on true events (it states on the cover to be based on a true story, though this is not explained any further, so it could mean it is true in the general sense). The story was made even more realistic by the use of dates and headings, giving the book a diary feel to it. Reading the book in third person made it easy to see how naive Maja’s behaviour was, and how unreasonable the people she was putting her trust in were, and definitely spurred me into finishing the book to see if she even survived at all!
“Once your body weight is ideal, we’ll talk more about it.”
Ivan has a very unique writing style, which took me a little while to get into, but it wasn’t too difficult to adjust. Every now and again the narrator defines words, as if reading them from a dictionary. I found this a little bit distracting, but as the book continues it happens less frequently. In addition to this, the book is actually a translation, and it reads like one too. There are many grammatically incorrect sentences, but as the book was following a Slovenian girl, one could argue that it adds an element of authenticity to the story. Despite this, there were a number of really thought-provoking sentences; I’ve added my favourite below:
Humorous people are in fact cowards. They joke around because they’re too scared to look the truth in the eye.
Overall, it was interesting to see behind the scenes of a pretty controversial world, and it is a shame that Maja’s experience resulted in so much suffering. However, the benefit of this is that it provides an insight into the conditions endured by many young girls and a cautionary tale to those considering a modelling career.
Star Rating: ★★½ (2.5/5)