by Clarissa Chua

THE STORY

It takes three mistakes to be swallowed up and spat out by the fashion industry. You trust the wrong people. You think you know everything there is to know about life. You take drugs. Maja started off as a regular 17-year-old high-school kid, fighting her inner insecurities while dreaming to become an actress like Marilyn Monroe. At a party her boyfriend Klemen introduces her to a renowned modelling agent. He sees a special X Factor hidden insight her. And a great business opportunity for himself… Fast forward a few weeks later. Maja’s charm and talent land her a modelling contract in the trendy and exciting fashion capital of Milan. She’s completely enchanted and determined to make it in the fashion world. But things don’t turn out the way she had planned. Exhausting long photo shoots, stressful fashion shows, strict dieting and wild parties start taking their toll on her soon enough. In desperate search for help Maja reaches out to her agent and other false friends from the fashion industry that emotionally and physically exploit her to the point where ‘Maja the Great’ is merely a shadow of her former self. She starts battling drug addiction that ends up in a tragic event. Maja has been finally swallowed up and spit out by the fashion industry with its endless traps. What price will the girl with the X Factor have to pay for her naivety? The young adult novel The X Factor by the bestselling Slovenian author Ivan Sivec is based on a true story and takes the reader on a frightening journey into the world of drug addiction among teenager fashion models. Read reviews: Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

I found the narration very pleasing and light, bringing sarcasm to the story, making it seem as if the events were happening to a normal person. The simple definition of terms in between the story cuts deep into the intense scenes while drawing the reader in because it is structured as if the narrator is just my friend who’s telling me a story he overheard.

Reminiscence.

An element of an art work that revives memories of past events.

The themes tackled were controversial and contemporary. It forces the readers to look around and see the reality with discerning eyes because even if we think we are intelligent, it is not enough; it is a whole new ball game out there.

“Everything would be fine if the world still wasn’t so blurry from previous days.”

For me, the ending ultimately held the whole book together. It redefined Maja’s X Factor – and the very definition of the X Factor itself – which was what people held onto in the industry. It also solidified Maja’s character as a survivor in the cruel world of teenage modelling.

“And the end is always the beginning of something new.”

HOWEVER…

I was cringing in the middle of the book. Probably because I can’t imagine being in Maja’s shoes and being surrounded by such toxic people in my life. It shows the reality of what consequences our dreams can have. And in the “real” world, one must have a thorough preparation before heading to it. I guess this isn’t even really a negative comment because it only shows how effective Sivec’s writing was.

tl;dr

The X Factor is not one for those whose hearts are weak because Ivan Sivec bares it all. The cruelty, the lack of friends, drugs, betrayal—all these envelope the book and it will surely leave you stunned. ☁

Bookbed received an ebook from the requesting author in exchange for an honest review. Read our Review Policy here.
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