The Shot

Naima Brown

The Shot
Pan Macmillan Australia
30 May 2023

The Shot

Naima Brown

How much would you sacrifice for another shot at the perfect life?

Producer Mara Bolt is the queen of reality TV. Ambitious to the point of ruthlessness, Mara will do anything - anything - for ratings. When she meets Kristy Shaw, Mara is certain she's found the star of her newest series, The Shot.

Kristy is languishing away in her small hometown and a dead-end job, pining for her first love, Max Irving. The Shot offers her a Total Body Transformation - extreme plastic surgery to render her unrecognisable - as a way to recapture Max's affections under a new identity. But there's a catch: if she doesn't secure his heart in thirty days, she must have her surgeries reversed, and go back to her old life.

As the cameras start rolling, Mara and Kristy both get the sense that there is something happening behind the scenes - something that threatens to reveal old wounds and new secrets that neither of them wants to reckon with. If they are going to keep the show on track, they must contain the truths and desires that lie just beneath the surface.

The Shot is a rollercoaster read about our obsession with beauty and the trappings of success, and the desperate, outrageous lengths we will go to for love and ambition.


If you are looking for a disturbing and absorbing story that is (hopefully only loosely) informed by real-life professional experience, and will make you fundamentally question the baseline ethical standards and direction of contemporary entertainment, look no further. The Shot takes the concept of reality TV and delivers a novel that could be the painfully modern and dystopian lovechild of Frankenstein and Pygmalion – and it’s frighteningly plausible.

Kristy Shaw is 21 and lives with her parents in Puerto Seguro, in a trailer park, in Florida. Her parents used to work, but both are now on disability and mostly housebound. Kristy works with her lifelong best friend, Denise, at Irvings Department Store, where Kristy sells designer handbags and pines for the Irvings’ son, Max – her unlikely and much-missed high-school boyfriend. Max broke up with Kristy the day they graduated and promptly disappeared to NYU to study architecture.

In the aftermath of an unexpectedly traumatic night out with Denise, a chance encounter with hot-shot reality TV producer Mara Bolt in the purse section of Irvings opens up wild new possibilities for Kristy. She is offered the chance to become the first subject on ‘The Shot’, Mara’s latest brainchild. It’s a ‘total body transformation’ TV program that would see Kristy leave her life and hide out in New York before undergoing drastic surgery to make her exterior ‘match’ her insides and assume a new (temporary) identity, so that Max will finally recognise her true worth and potential, and take her back – as the ‘improved’ version of her old self. If she fails to win him back, or wins him back but then fails to keep him when she reveals her true identity, she must have all her surgery reversed and return to her old life. What could possibly go wrong?! This is quite a debut – you won’t forget it in a hurry.

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