Book Review: Followers by Megan Angelo
Reviewer: Alyisha W.
Cover design by Tosello, J.R.. Art design by Craig, E. (2020).
Image retrieved from: https://www.refinery29.com/en-ca/winter-books-roundup-2020.
Fiction -- Adult, Realistic/Contemporary (with hints of Dystopian)
Angelo, M. (2020). Followers. Toronto, Ontario, CA: Graydon House.
In 2015 NYC, Floss Natuzzi, a fashion-forward, narcissistic “personality”, is trying to make it big. Her roommate, Orla Cadden, is a lonely blogger looking for validation & human connection, as she stares at a blank screen -- one that’s supposed to display her efforts at writing the next Great American Novel. When they join forces, concocting a plan to finally make Floss famous, everything turns toxic faster than you can say, “Ididntpushhershefell.”
Four decades later, reality TV star, Marlow (Floss’s daughter), wants out. She’s been live-streaming, 24/7, since the tender age of six and imbibing a steady cocktail of prescription drugs meant to “stabilize” her moods after an unfortunate, violent “incident” in her teenage years. When network executives decide that it’s time for her to have a baby (to increase viewership & secure new product endorsements), Marlow stops taking the drugs and starts to see her loveless marriage and the general state of her world more clearly. When she rips out her implanted “device” and “goes dark”, a live audience participates in a hunt for her as she tries to pursue the kind of truth that neither she nor her thousands of followers have ever known.
I have to admit...I wasn‘t paying 100% attention while I read this Black Mirror meets The Truman Show read-alike. It’s nearly a superhuman feat to not get distracted with things being the way they are right now...but, as always, Literature offers a great escape! I kept setting the book down for long-ish periods of time & then forgetting the thread of the plot. Still, I saw the “twist” coming from a mile away. Despite being fairly predictable, I enjoyed the themes of privacy & surveillance, image & authenticity. I think we should heed Followers as, among other things, a cautionary tale about being too attached to our devices. This is especially pertinent now, when we’re all quarantined and aching to be heard and entertained. It’s tempting to simply stare at our screens. But, if we’re lucky, we can all use this time to reconnect with the actual people around us. (Of course, I don’t mean that you should step away & stop reading our blog! Never that!). I admired the way in which this moral about technology is conveyed; though loud & clear, the author’s voice never comes across as preachy or “holier than thou.” And I found her sharp, “biting” humor to be pretty cackle-worthy.
I took dark delight in Angelo’s criticism of the way some people talk:
“Vowels stood in for each other at random. “Hay gurl hay,” she would whine.” (Angelo, 22).
You know you’ve heard -- or maybe even been guilty of saying! -- something similar. As a Millennial, and also a self-avowed “word nerd,” I know I’ve been on both sides.
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