I was immediately pulled into this original and intriguing story about an internet obsessed culture and how real life, it’s dreams and desires, are sacrificed for social media popularity. Megan Angelo in her debut novel “Followers” gives the reader a realistic glimpse into the future of social media, how it controls the decisions of the celebrities and how it influences its viewers. This debut novel is a unique, and truly fascinating futuristic, dystopian fiction story about a civilization that has lost its reality as well as its direction and meaning and warns about the cost of fame and the resulting loss of privacy. “Followers” takes the reader on a journey where people crave human connection in an internet obsessed culture and explains that “some things aren’t meant to be shared”. I found this book to be thoroughly entertaining, thought provoking and extremely relevant to today’s technology and social media obsessed society.
This story is written with alternating time lines and switches between New York in 2015 and the future in California, 2051. The story begins in New York City in 2015 and follows two ambitious young women, Orla and Florence. Orla is a struggling novelist who has worked as a blogger for the past six years. Her new roommate Florence (Floss) dreams of being a singer. Despite their best efforts neither woman is close to achieving their goals. One night when Floss confronts Orla about the realities of what it takes to make their dreams come true, “anything and everything”, Floss hatches a plan. That plan will require Orla to become a different person, a person who’s no longer concerned about doing the right thing. Will Orla live to regret the deal she made with Floss that night? What will they have to sacrifice personally to become social media celebrities?
The year is 2051 and the place is Constellation, California. Marlow, a famous and successful celebrity, is living in a fake world. She lives her life on screen 24/7 where everything she does is closely watched by her 12 million online followers. Her life, daily activities, food choices and clothing are determined by her viewers “likes” and comments. Every move she makes is celebrated, scrutinized or criticized! When one of her cast members hastily leaves, Marlow begins to wonder what life would be like for her if she left, too. When Marlow is faced with the next big step in pleasing her followers she realizes that she’s more than just a brand. As she begins to distinguish the difference between friends and followers, she desires to find fulfillment and happiness. She thinks about escaping but she fears that her popularity, and the constant tracking by bots and her sponsors would make an escape impossible. However, when Marlow discovers a secret about her past, she’s determined to escape her prison to discover the truth. Will Marlow discover the truth about her past? What will she have to risk to find it?
As the two stories and timelines progress you learn about a cataclysmic event that took place in 2016 known as the Spill which is responsible for bringing down the power grid and the internet. After the Spill the government controls the internet. However, all too soon people forget why being irresponsible with data and sharing is dangerous. How is the Spill responsible for changing the future of technology and social media? How does the Spill connect and divide both timelines. How are these three women in this story connected?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! The author’s descriptive writing style immediately captured my attention. The title is perfect for today’s social media obsessed world. The futuristic setting was intriguing and entertaining and the story was timely, complex, impressive and dramatic. It accurately reflected today’s social media addicted world and the power of social media. The transition between timelines was seamless and kept my full attention. The three main characters were all well developed. Although the three women were very different, their struggles were realistic. They were all flawed and had misdirected goals and passions. I was definitely more sympathetic to Marlow because she was born into fame and never had a choice while Orla and Floss often made bad choices in their pursuit of celebrity status. The secondary characters were also well developed, real and memorable. I particularly appreciated the mystery of how the three women were connected and how the two timelines would finally interact. I was definitely surprised by the emotional ending! Although I thought the story was a little long with some unnecessary subplots, I found it to be a well paced, pleasurable read that was often difficult to put down! I highly recommend this book! “Followers” was an excellent debut novel for Megan Angelo and I look forward to seeing where she takes us next!