Leata; a small pill that takes the edge off life. Nearly everyone takes it and everyone’s happy. Tom’s father was a journalist investigating a story on Leata when he died; the police confirm it was suicide. His father wasn’t on Leata after all. Tom had never taken it, and consumed with grief he starts following the story to find out what really happened to his father. His next door neighbour, Hope, is one of the faces of Leata and runs a successful blog and YouTube channel, Live Life with Hope, and sees Tom as the perfect project. She will help him see how to live life positively.

With awareness of mental illness rising, it’s not a big stretch of the imagination to see a world where everyone is on mood altering drugs. Yet Leata is not an anti-depressant. There are still people with depression, those that Leata fails on get shipped off to health farms or worse, they just disappear. The happiness has an overly cheery falseness too it. It’s more about fitting in and not doing anything that might upset the balance. And how do you measure happiness if there is no sadness?

The protagonist is a teenage girl who is a YouTube star; the person she presents to the greater world is always happy and perfect. She truly believes that she is important to her fans, it’s her duty to help people be the best they can. Her channel is sponsored by Leata, it’s important that she presents the perfect Leata spokesperson on screen.

I need my followers to see I’m always evolving, growing, embracing life.

In younger generations, YouTube stars have become role models, seemingly leading amazing lives but there being an assumption that YouTubers are somehow more genuine than big media. There’s been plenty of scandals among gaming YouTubers where sponsorship was not disclosed, often at the request of the client. With millions of fans, how down-to-earth do we really expect them to be? Not to mention they are presenting a heavily edited version of their lives, just like any other celebrity.

It’s hard to say what really made this book stand out without revealing a spoiler. It might seem like it’s about a world where everyone is controlled by mind-altering drugs, but I think this idea of marketing infiltrating every part of our lives is paramount.

The truth is all that matters isn’t it? Even if it makes people miserable?

Cloud 9 is published by Hot Key Books and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.