“There are eight million people people here, and all of them want something as bad as I want what I want, as bad as you want what you want. We’re not all going to get it. It’s just not possible, that all these people could have their dreams come true in the same time, same place. It’s not enough it be talented. It’s not enough to work hard. You need to be disciplined, and you need to be ruthless. You have to do anything, everything, and you need to forget about doing the right thing,” (Angelo 47)
This is my favourite quote from the book and probably the smartest thing Floss says in the entirety of it, and at its heart it’s what motivates our characters and Angelo’s story. Megan Angelo’s debut novel is filled with great insights into our relationship with technology, being seen, and what we’ll do to be noticed.
Followers looks into the lives of three women thirty-five years apart and a technological crisis that uproots America. In 2016 Orla Cadden and her roommate Floss Natuzzi want to be famous and they will do whatever it takes to get there. Orla is an aspiring author stuck writing for a blogging site that cares more about celebrity hairstyles and listicles than anything she actually wants to write about. But Floss sees Orla’s job as the perfect in for both of them to start being somebody’s through the power of social media and gaining more followers. Meanwhile in 2051, Marlow lives in Constellation, California, a community where people are always watched by thousands upon thousands of loyal followers from across the globe. Marlow is one of the most popular but she’s growing tired of being watched all the time, of having her life planned out by the network that runs all of the people’s lives in Constellation and will keep her and the others there anyway they can. But when Marlow discovers a secret about herself she knows that she needs to get out of Constellation and into the real world to find the answers about who she really is.
I really wanted to like Followers more than I did. The strongest part of the novel is definitely it’s commentary on technology and social media. Floss’ terrifying willingness to do anything to become famous and Orla’s complicity made the novel very scary in its truth because I have definitely seen the “Influencer” type of fame and what people will post, say, and do to achieve it.
The characters however unfortunately seemed to suffer in terms of development. Despite everything they went through Orla, Floss, and Marlow were incredibly flat and uninteresting. I didn’t care about any of them or what was really happening in their stories, and Marlow’s secret is something readers could predict just by reading the blurb, definitely by the end of the first chapter. But the dullness of the characters made this story so disappointing. The superficiality and simplicity of Orla and Floss at least makes sense with their goal of social media stardom but I at expected Marlow, who was raised as a social media star and sponsored by companies for most of her life, to be interesting. I just wanted more of the characters; to feel more for them and care a little about where there stories were going.
That being said, Angelo did a very good job creating suspense between the characters relationships and with what exactly the mysterious “Spill” was. She peppers hints here and there and let reader’s know that somehow, someway we were building up to something big and bad happening with and around Orla, Floss, and Marlow. And that was what really kept me hooked, reading, and gave this book its three stars.
Followers offers an excellent commentary on our obsession with social media, the dangers of “following”, and how we present ourselves and what motivates us in our desire to succeed. But aside from the commentary and excellent suspense, I just wanted more from Followers. More connection, more feeling, just a little more than what we got.
Publication: January 14 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Science Fiction
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤
“Orla Cadden dreams of literary success, but she’s stuck writing about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Orla has no idea how to change her life until her new roommate, Floss―a striving, wannabe A-lister―comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they so desperately crave. But it’s only when Orla and Floss abandon all pretense of ethics that social media responds with the most terrifying feedback of all: overwhelming success.
Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity―twelve million loyal followers―Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything, even horrible things, to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.”