Wow. You guys… I went in to this book very intrigued and with high expectations based on the descriptions I have read and I was definitely not disappointed! This thrilling debut novel by Megan Angelo is one that will keep you on the edge of your seat with an all-too-realistic nightmare about poor social media habits, the world we currently live in, and a futuristic version of the world that we certainly would not want to experience.
Followers is about two friends, Orla Caden and Floss Natuzzi, who engage in some pretty dark behaviors in order to become social media famous, not at all caring that their actions are hurting others and even putting a few directly in harms way. In 2015, Orla is an aspiring writer living in New York and working for a celebrity gossip blog when she meets her new roommate, Floss, a wannabe A-lister with wild ideas for achieving those dreams. After realizing what Orla does for work, Floss approaches her with a shady scheme that would launch them into the stardom they both crave.
Enter Marlow. Thirty six years later, residing in a city known as Constellation that houses government-appointed celebrities whose lives are being filmed 24/7, she discovers an earth-shattering secret about her past. This secret motivates Marlow to flee from Constellation, abandoning her 12 million followers and the network, in search of a truth that could set her free from the life she’s come to know.
Followers will take the reader on a thrilling journey of the lives of Orla, Floss, and Marlow, traveling along the shocking paths that lead them toward one another and their deepest desire of genuine human connection and the lengths they will go through to protect what matters most to them.
I really enjoyed this book a lot, for multiple reasons. I loved the alternating time frames and character points of view and I loved that the storyline continuously had me guessing what would happen next, resulting in an unexpected ending that I was pleasantly satisfied with. Megan Angelo is an excellent storyteller and did a fantastic job with the character development. Not only did the reader get to know the characters of Floss, Orla and Marlow really well throughout the book (they are vastly different from one another with distinct voices that bring excellent views to the narrative); Angelo did a great job at appropriately tying up the loose ends of the secondary characters throughout the story that had a connection with the three of them, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Followers alternates between life as we currently experience with social media and the terrifying possibility of a world where the illusion of internet privacy is shattered through a terrorist-level hacking, completely altering life and society as we know it. The plot was equally scary and intriguing at the same time because of how realistic it felt, leading the reader to wonder about the likelihood of this ever becoming a reality while also serving as a solid reminder that absolutely nothing we release to the internet is private, no matter how secure we may feel. Even though the content is not the same, I also enjoyed how this story gave off a little bit of a WestWorld vibe in the sense that the city of Constellation was managed by a network, where network employees were also characters living in the city and living among the “talent,” consisting of citizens who wore a small device attached to their wrists that allowed for their lives to be filmed and viewed by followers. With this device, not only could the talent view comments from the followers in their head, but the full power and capabilities of a smart phone was essentially connected with their minds. Other reviews I’ve read say that this book reminds them of Black Mirror, but I personally am not completely familiar with that show to make a comfortable comparison.
Overall, this was an engrossing, creative story and a fantastic debut novel. If you’re into speculative (and somewhat dystopian) fiction about technology and social media and are interested in reading about how the implications of over-sharing can come back to haunt us in a terrifyingly realistic way, you will enjoy this book!
BEER RECOMMENDATION: Followers by Megan Angelo is best paired with Illusion of Safety by Adroit Theory Brewing Company. Illusion of Safety is a line of sour fruited gose’s by Adroit Theory, so this specific beer is their calamansi, passion fruit and mango sour gose. This delicious beer has a beautiful orange hue with tons of citrus notes. A little tart from the passion fruit, sour from the lime, and a tropical sweetness from the mango, this highly enjoyable beer will taste more like juice than beer 😉🍻