Reviews

Followers by Megan Angelo

hollidayreadswithme's review

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3.0

Followers is not about social media. Followers is about relationships. Followers by Meghan Angelo is about three women and their connectedness. It goes back-and-forth between the time before the spill and the time after. Floss is A girl who wants to be famous for the sake of being famous, think Kardashian famous. Orla is a blogger who just lost the one person she covers for Lady-ish, a gossip site. They have been so wrapped up in their world that they didn’t realize they live together. And they didn’t realize how they could help each other. Marlow’s timeline happens 30 years after. She grew up in a town where being an influencer was a government job. Streaming your life 24-7, and a network that told you what to eat, what to wear and when to have a baby.
One of the most intriguing things about this book is that it fools you into thinking that it is a commentary on our current Instagram obsessed society. It’s not about that as much as it’s about what that society does to us, affecting our treatment of others. There were no clear villains, just people who sometimes do bad things. That made it all the more relatable.
This book is firmly in women’s fiction but at times, it attempted suspense, intrigue and complex world-building that fell flat for me. As much as I enjoyed the relationships, the women’s voices were not diverse amongst themselves for me to tell the difference when I picked up the book at random. The thoughts they were having were different but the writing style was much the same. I think this book suffers a similar fate as Vox which is also had a great premise but the execution was poor. Usually, it doesn’t take me a week to read a 400-page book and this book I started two weeks ago and just finished.
The world-building of society after the Spill made little sense to me. The fallout was realistic but Constellation was just LA but with cameras everywhere. I didn’t know what the purpose of it and it wasn’t explained well. Some portions of the technology were extremely convenient. The primary issue with speculative fiction is that it needs to be a natural progression of human behavior that leads to the “after”. The after was interesting but felt primarily disjointed. I enjoyed Orla’s chapters far more than Marlow’s because it was almost painful to see her realize how sheltered she really was. Because Marlow was older, it felt unrealistic.
The diversity seemed like it was shoved in there, but even then they were European, which made no sense because of the places this story takes place in. New York and Atlantic City. It’s almost like this new world doesn’t have any people who don’t look like the author.
As much as I wanted to like this book, I just didn’t. It didn’t keep my attention and the faux-epilogue in the future tense was just an attempt to be different. There are quite a few books coming out in Winter 2019/2020 that deal with the same subject matter that are a little more interesting.

kyrajg's review

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adventurous dark reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

bookph1le's review

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5.0

Classifying this book as science fiction doesn't feel quite right, though parts of it do take place in the future. But if you're expecting pure science fiction, I'm not sure this book is entirely going to deliver. To me, it feels like more of a satire, and a really well done one at that, that blends some scifi into its story. It's a difficult book to discuss without giving away many of its secrets, so there will be some spoilers in this review, though I'll try to keep them to a minimum because I'd much prefer readers discover the book's plot nuances from the book itself rather than from me.

All in all, this is easily one of the best books I've read this year, and that's because this book is not only so well written, but also because it's made me think about some pretty profound things. I realize the irony in sharing my thoughts on this book on the very platforms the book is prodding readers to think about, but there it is for you. Even as the book is dissecting our internet-obsessed culture, particularly with regard to internet celebrities, the best way for me to spread the word about it and hopefully get people reading it is by talking about it online.

Part of what makes this book a five-star read for me is I felt the author really gets people. The characters in this book are all so vivid, even the tertiary ones, and they are all painted in many, many shades. As Floss, one of the main characters likes to put it, it's all in the edit. None of these people are outright heroic or villainous. All of them are driven by baser needs and desires at some points, and that's precisely what makes them seem so human. Never once did I question why Floss was doing what she did, or why Orla was, or why Marlow was, because their actions made sense within the context of what I knew about them. Further, I was thrilled by this depiction of female characters in books, which is still all-too rare. It was beyond refreshing to read something that didn't seem worried about making anyone "likable", and what's interesting about that is it made me like these characters, sometimes despite myself. I could identify with what they were going through and what they were doing. That doesn't mean I'd want some of them in my own life, but I really appreciated how this book emphasized the interiority of these characters and used that to drive its action.

The other thing I wholly admired about this book is the way it lampooned our cultural moment without being mean or petty about it. Instead, the book points out why our dependence on and trust of social media, cloud services, etc is something that should concern us more than it does. Americans take our privacy for granted, and we're prone to believing the promises these corporations feed us, even when the curtain is pulled back and we see what's really going on behind the scenes. These book made me think a lot about data privacy and the implications and consequences of trusting my data to private companies. I'm already of a mindset that the 1984 scenario Orwell envisioned is already upon us, only in the U.S. and many other parts of the world it's not so much the government that's spying on us, it's private corporations. This book interrogates the complacency with which most Americans go about their day, all while our every action is being data-mined and monetized.

While the book is doing this, it's taking a hard look at the ways in which people have not only given up their privacy but have almost come to view privacy as a bad thing, hence the rise of the internet celebrity. Yes, celebrities have always had aspects of their private lives spilled out into the public realm, and those private lives have often influenced how much or little celebrity those people would ultimately possess, but the whole concept of being famous solely for being famous feels like a newer phenomenon. Angelo poses some interesting questions about internet celebrity and what it means. Without ever feeling preachy, the book made me think a lot about what the effect of internet celebrity has on our culture, and just how far we, as consumers, will implicitly encourage internet celebrities to go in order for them to secure our interest. As Angelo points out, the social media companies' choice of the word "followers" is interesting. Reading this book made me think a lot about what it means to both be a follower and to have followers.

Yet all of this is done in a very approachable way. I found this book such a stunner precisely because it's written in casual and unadorned prose that is also engaging and gripping. It's as well written as it is precisely because it's so clever at using language. I feel like saying the prose isn't all ginned up is vaguely insulting to the novel when that's not what I mean at all. Much like when I read Jane Austen's books, I was very impressed by how much Angelo could achieve without striving for fancier or more embroidered language. She doesn't need to write incomprehensible sentences sagging with the weight of multi-syllabic words of the type usually only found in SAT tests because the points she's making are so smart and spot-on. In other words, she doesn't need to use fancy language because her book has a lot to say. Sure, elaborate prose works well for some authors, but I often find elaborate prose is also used to cover up the fact that a book has precious little to say.

I have no doubt I'll still be chewing over this book long after finishing it. I read a vast number of books each year, and after a while the details fade. I usually do remember vague things about the books, but I know this is one of the few whose details I'm not likely to forget, one of those I try to press into the hands of every reader I know. It's not often that I come across a book that is both compulsively readable while also full of deep, provocative thoughts, but this book is one. I look very much forward to what Angelo does next--yep, count me as one of her followers.

reddreadds's review against another edition

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challenging hopeful reflective tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

The world building and plot were very well thought out but I didn’t feel connected to these characters. Interesting premise too but I did grow bored in some spots.

jullecomer's review against another edition

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mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated

5.0

farbusha's review

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emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

veganheathen's review

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5.0

Such a great book. It's a cautionary tale for everyone obsessed with social media and followers, but also a wonderful tale of complicated female friendship.

thephdivabooks's review

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5.0

In the age of social media, how do we define our worth? I’ll admit as a blogger, I’ve had my fair share of moments where I compare my following, popularity, likes, shares, and other metrics to others. This is the time that we live in, where many of us feel that some of our value is related to how others see us.

I read an advanced copy of Followers back in mid-fall of 2019, and it was without question the best book I read in 2019. Followers holds a special place in my heart because it pulled me out of the worst reading slump I’ve been in since blogging. I was still consuming books, but oddly enough as a print-reader, I could only do audiobooks. I couldn’t focus at all on a book.

Alternating between 2015 and 2051, Followers tells a story about the culture of celebrity and influence and the way even small mistakes can be misinterpreted and have long-term impact on their lives. It’s also about how our relationship with others through social media can derail our understanding of who we are at our core, and what makes us happy.

In 2015, an aspiring writer and current blogger for a celebrity gossip site Orla Cadden is living with aspiring singer Floss. Despite talent, both Floss and Orla struggle to make progress towards their dreams. And so one day Floss asks Orla to help her in a different way—make her a celebrity. The idea seems outrageous at first, but between Orla’s role blogging about celebrities and Floss’s grit and determination, the two succeed. Floss becomes a Kardashian-like superstar.

But what people in 2015 don’t know is that they are headed towards an event that will fundamentally change society forever. The Spill.

In 2051, Marlow lives in Constellation, California—a closed town that houses government-selected “celebrities” whose lives are broadcast 24/7 to their followers. The residents of Constellation can view comments from the followers, but their job is to act like they don’t know they are being broadcast.

Marlow barely remembers life before Constellation, her mother and father moved her there as a child. In fact, though Marlow isn’t happy, she isn’t used to making decisions about her own life. Until she learns something shocking about her past that will shatter everything she knew.

As Orla and Floss head unknowingly towards the Spill, Marlow seeks to understand life outside of the small bubble she lives in.

All of the characters in this book were fascinating. In their own ways, each character was deeply flawed and also redeemable. Orla and Floss, for instance, had such a unique relationship. Because we hear the story from the perspective of Orla and Marlowe, Floss is a character that can seem ridiculous or overly ambitious through most of the book. But then Orla has these moments of clarity and reflection about Floss, and suddenly you’ll see her in an entirely different light.

Orla is a bit of an underdog, which in and of itself makes her rootable. But Orla also lacks a bit of conviction for some of the novel. She knows what she wants but seems incapable of taking action to make it happen. Marlow, on the other hand, doesn’t know what she wants. Everything in Marlow’s life has always been decided for her, so she never learned to introspect on what she wants. I loved seeing them grow and take form in the book.

Then there is the Spill. I was SO curious exactly what that was and why it changed technology and society so fundamentally. The concept is fascinating. In fact, I’m rooting for a sequel that focuses on different characters, but during that point in time. I was hooked! And the whole message of the book really makes you think. The message about how we evaluate our own self-worth in an age where social media rules so much of society. The messages about friendship, ambition, and what we lose when we are so connected to the anonymous external world that we lose sight of what is directly happening to us.

I loved this book so much. I have already read it twice, and I know I’ll read it so many times that the book will become worn and the pages will become soft with use. All I can say is—read this book. I hope you love it as much as I did!

Thank you to Kathleen Carter for my copy. Opinions are my own.

thebookenjoyer's review

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lighthearted medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.5

harmonj3's review

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dark emotional mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0