BookBrowse Reviews Followers by Megan Angelo

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by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo X
Followers by Megan Angelo
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 384 pages

    Nov 2020, 416 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book



In her debut novel, Followers, Megan Angelo imagines the potential consequences of our society's obsession with social media and reality TV.

The plot of Megan Angelo's Followers focuses on the lives of two women as they each hit a crisis point.

Readers are first introduced to Marlow who, in the year 2051, lives in a "made-for-TV" city called Constellation, where each resident is part of a 24/7 production live-streamed over a government-controlled internet. Marlow, sponsored by the manufacturer of a Valium-like pharmaceutical, is a star with millions of followers; her every action is broadcast, and all aspects of her life are determined by her ratings. At one point, for example, she tries a wardrobe update, but when her feed becomes filled with negative comments about it the clothes are immediately spirited away by her handlers. When her sponsors react to a ratings slump by setting her life on a new trajectory, she begins to look for ways to alter her future.

Alternating with Marlow's storyline is that of Orla, a wannabe writer who earns a living blogging for an online publication aimed at women during a time closer to the present day. In the year 2015, Orla and her flashy roommate Floss come up with a plan to game the system by using Instagram (see Beyond the Book) to make Floss an important "influencer"—someone who can sway a large audience simply by mentioning a product favorably. Their plot succeeds beyond their wildest dreams, making them media sensations overnight. Fame, though, has its consequences, and as Orla's life spins out of control, she's forced into making choices that reverberate far into the future.

The book is speculative fiction at its best; it takes our current society, technology and political landscape and predicts one possible future based on a very plausible trajectory. Angelo's plot is fresh and entertaining from start to finish; it also feels quite relevant, exploring the risks associated with social media that many of us are just starting to comprehend. In some respects, it reminds me of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Although Angelo imagines a different future, the two books seem equally prescient; there's this sense that the societies envisioned by these authors truly could come to pass. Followers lacks the claustrophobic feeling of Atwood's work, though, relying instead on dark humor to convey the dystopian future it predicts.

Angelo's characterizations are spot-on; Orla and Floss, in particular, are very relatable and perfectly drawn. Even the minor characters that drift in and out of the story are three-dimensional and important to the narrative. Indeed, I don't think there's a single extraneous scene or character throughout the novel; the plot is very well thought-out and flows beautifully. My only quibble is that I think the narrative gets a little sloppy at the end as the author shifts focus in the 2051 timeline to a specific society outside Constellation. There are a number of minor plot points that could use more explanation, and there's one character, introduced late in the story, that I wanted to know more about.

Followers is without doubt a page turner, one of those books that you simply can't put down once you've started. I'd recommend it for a broad audience; its themes such as privacy vs. publicity and the power of social media make it an appropriate read for mid-teens and above. It would also be an excellent choice for discussion in a group setting.

Reviewed by Kim Kovacs

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in January 2020, and has been updated for the November 2020 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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