A Thousand Steps
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Followers by Megan Angelo - Feature and Review
ABOUT THE BOOK:
An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make and the stunning moment that changes the world as we know it forever
Orla Cadden is a budding novelist stuck in a dead-end job, writing clickbait about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Then Orla meets Floss―a striving wannabe A-lister―who comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they dream about. So what if Orla and Floss's methods are a little shady and sometimes people get hurt? Their legions of followers can't be wrong.
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 to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is based on a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.
Followers traces the paths of Orla, Floss and Marlow as they wind through time toward each other, and toward a cataclysmic event that sends America into lasting upheaval. At turns wry and tender, bleak and hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we’ll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.
LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:
Followers by Megan Angelo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Followers by Megan Angelo is a 2020 Graydon House publication.
Dark, clever, and contemplative -
This is the second book I’ve read recently that had a science fiction element. For the record, it’s not the outer space type of sci-fi. It has a dystopian flavor to it- so basically, what qualifies it for the sci-fi category is the futuristic setting. For me this is a big change of pace since I normally prefer historical fiction. As before, I went in blind, thinking this book was more of a current day cautionary tale.
As it turns out, this story has a dual timeline- 2015 and 2051.
The story begins in 2015, with Orla Cadden, currently working as a blogger for Lady-ish.com. Her pieces are usually gossipy celebrity driven articles, but her real goal is to become a novelist- although her goals tend to stay on the back burner due to the many gadgets- based distractions in her life. However, her entire world is upended by her roommate, Floss, who wants to be a star. Orla agrees to work her ‘Influencer’ magic for Floss, creating an image out thin air, which is how talentless celebrity is formed.
Fast forward to 2051-
A catastrophic event called “The Spill’ –an online data breach or meltdown, of sorts has entirely changed the dynamics of society. Yet being famous for being famous, and reality television still reigns supreme, but is now regulated by the government in the form of a village called ‘Constellation’, where all the celebrities reside and are on ad supported camera 24/7.
The residents have multitudes of followers, and their lives are discussed and commented upon, in the same way we are familiar with, except they aren’t allowed to respond or participate in the conversation. But for Marlow- one of the most popular celebrities, with a healthy twelve million followers, makes a shocking discovery that tempts her to go rogue.
This is a wickedly sharp and timely satire that puts our current society in front of a mirror. Do we like what we see? Is it possible for our future to come to his point? Could an event on par with ‘The Spill’ prompt the government to step in and attempt to restore our trust? Are we really this shallow and celebrity obsessed?
Ha! Yes. But the story examines a few other serious topics, along the way, framing the heaviness in a darkly comedic vein. The story is one that required my undivided attention and presented me with a little bit of a challenge. It was a little confusing at times and I had to read slowly and carefully to figure out how the past and the present were connected and to keep up with the people and developments. The pacing is also a bit uneven- but under the circumstances that might have been an advantage for me personally. The slower portions probably saved me from having to re-read passages.
But I have to say I thought the story was brilliant! It will really make you think about the internet and how society has changed since social media has overtaken our world. In many cases it has become the basis on which so many people live and die by its double- edged sword.
Although the future doesn’t look all that pleasant, the story isn’t entirely without hope, and it definitely gave me pause. This is still a cautionary story for the present and the future. It’s a frightening and topical tale, but also highly entertaining!
Overall, this is a smart, impressible debut from Megan Angelo!
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