“I’m going to tell you the same thing I’ve been telling you since you were ten years old, Orla,” she said quietly, like she was trying not to embarrass her. “It’s not good to be a follower.”
This book shuttles across two time periods – 2015 and 2051.
In 2015, we are introduced to two friends, Orla and Floss in New York. Orla is a blogger who writes about celebrities but what she really wants to be is a book author. Her roommate, Floss simply wants to be a celebrity. Orla comes up with a plan that works and she orchestrates Floss being a celebrity including managing Floss’s social media accounts. All is well, except Orla and Floss’s methods are not exactly kosher and some people get hurt along the way.
In 2051, we are in a new world post “The Spill” – when everyone’s secrets online were revealed. The internet is no more and the Government controls a lot of things including government appointed celebrities. We meet Marlow in California. She is one of the popular government appointed celebrities in this new world, with 12 million followers. Being a government appointed celeb means you have a sponsorship, a camera on you 24/7, your partner is chosen, your eggs are harvested and you are told when you can have kids – everything is planned for you and you have no say in your life.
Marlow finds out a kink in her family history and goes on a quest to break free and find out the truth. Followers is the story of how the lives of the mentioned characters cross paths. Each living different lives but fueled by fulfilling their strong heart’s desire.
I loved this book. I think it was written very well and it was hard to believe that it was a debut novel. The premise was a stand out and although it was fiction (with some dystopian sci-fi sprinkled into it), it hit really close to home because I could very easily see it being a reality. Angelo explores a world where being famous at all costs, no matter who it hurts, is the goal. She explored how important social media/followers were on this quest. (Sound familiar?)
The Spill is something I have always feared will happen someday when it comes to messaging systems like Whatsapp,imessage etc. Imagine the government spilling your secrets by sending out the worst things you have ever said or done. I don’t think we ever got a full explanation on what caused “The Spill”, we were given an overload on the power grid but I wasn’t fully satisfied with it.
I felt like all the characters were very well and fully developed – we do get to know about Orla’s family and childhood – and Angelo kept them consistent. For every action made by each character, you were not surprised because it was on brand with what we knew of them. Angelo did a fantastic job of creating this futuristic world that I felt like I could imagine it and actually see it.
Overall, I think the book made you stop and think about the dark realities of social media and all that it comes with. I think towards the end it dragged a bit and you could tell she was trying to wrap things up as neatly as possible. It’s really hard to have a perfect ending to a book these days, so I didn’t begrudge her the ending. If you are looking for an escapist, easy novel, this probably isn’t it but for a well written, well thought out and slightly dark novel – this is it.