Followers: A Novel

Followers: A Novel

by Megan Angelo

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Overview

FOUR STARRED REVIEWS!

“SPECTACULAR” —Publishers Weekly

“AN ADDICTIVE TREAT” —Kirkus Reviews

“AN INTRICATE AND BRAVE STORY” —Booklist

“ONE OF THE BEST NOVELS OF 2020” —BookPage

“If anyone is going to explore a future version of our high-tech, internet-obsessed culture, please let it be Megan Angelo. Followers is pure gold.” —Abbi Jacobson, bestselling author and cocreator of Broad City

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781525836268
Publisher: Graydon House Books
Publication date: 01/14/2020
Edition description: Original
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 14,720
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Megan Angelo grew up in Quakertown, Pennsylvania and graduated from Villanova University. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour and Elle, among other publications. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family. Followers is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Orla New York, New York 2015

Orla left for the bad salad place without her phone, so it took her a while to find out that Sage Sterling had finally died. Sage was found on a poolside chaise at the Los Angeles hotel where she had been living for a year — never mind the fact that she was so broke, she often tipped the staff not from her handbag but with old handbags: scuffed-up Louis Vuittons, old Balenciaga totes with half the fringe worn off. The bellhops would make a big show of thanking her, then place the purses in the lost and found.

Sage was erratic and filthy and sporadically mean, and she kept a pet ferret named Mofongo in the room with her. Yet everyone felt compelled to treat her gently, because outside the stucco walls of the hotel complex, the world was waiting, teeth bared, for her to fuck up again. So it was not strange, as the staff would tell the police later, that no one stopped Sage when she let herself into the pool around three in the morning. And it was not strange that no one disturbed her when the sun came up and she was still there, sleeping soundly. She was, after all, known for her impenetrable naps. Paparazzi had captured Sage snoozing in roped-off sections of exclusive New York bars, on a ski lift in Gstaad (she rode it around for hours), and during the premiere of her own latest film, an expensive animated adventure based on the phone game Candy Crush. (Sage played a lemon drop.) Head back, Sage snored loudly through the whole terrible movie. Someone at the premiere captured her snuffling on video. It went viral instantly, via a website called Lady-ish.com. Orla was the one who put it there.

Sage had lain still at the pool until around eight in the morning, when a towel boy watched a seagull shit directly onto her stomach. Sage didn't even flinch. The towel boy — "towel maintenance associate," as he corrected the reporter — walked over, wondering what the most tasteful part of her body to jostle was. He saw that her lips were blue. Her eyes were still, but just slightly open, watery slivers cast down through brittle lashes. He touched her shoulder, the one directly in the sun. It was cold.

Orla was in the middle of ordering her salad when the news on the flat-screen over her head cut to an aerial view of the hotel. The shot circled its gray slate roof, hovering above the oblivious billboards on Sunset, and informed viewers that, somewhere down there, Sage Sterling was dead at twenty-seven.

The girl behind Orla, who wore dingy flip-flops with her skirt suit, looked up from her phone and said, sounding bored, "I literally thought she was dead already."

The stout Guatemalan man on the other side of the counter sighed as Orla gaped at the screen, ruffling brown-edged romaine with his tongs. He was waiting for her to choose another topping. Orla always spent a long time pretending to consider vegetables before saying, as if it had just occurred to her, "Actually, just double croutons, please."

The man in front of Orla was tapping out a missive on his phone in all caps: SAGE STERLING DEAD! Like no one would know it had happened, Orla thought, if this guy didn't tweet it.

Not that she was much different. Back at the Lady-ish offices, Orla's intern would be looking over the obit Orla had written for Sage eighteen months ago, the one she had marked with a warning: DO NOT PUBLISH UNTIL. Sage had been Orla's beat at Lady-ish for most of the time she'd worked there. Ingrid, Orla's boss, had identified Sage as a source of "bonkers" traffic early on, when a post Orla tried about her nail art drew ninety thousand views in ten minutes. From then on, every move Sage made, every boy and girl she kissed, every gown she put on was Orla's to write up. The clicks flooded in, even more so when it became apparent that Sage had a temper. Sage grabbed photographers' cameras and forced them down to the sidewalk. Sage scratched a bouncer, nearly blinding him. Sage pushed her boyfriend off his own parents' yacht. Orla received small bonuses for stories that clocked more than five million views in a day; Sage's boat rage had paid for her laptop. She tried now, very hard, not to think about what the star's death might bring, pushing away the thought of a pair of boots she had seen in a shop window recently — soft gray suede and knee-high, meant to be worn in weather that was still weeks away. Maybe months, with this heat.

Orla apologized to the Guatemalan man and left. The intern would have published Sage's obituary by now, Orla's name at the top of it. The clicks would be raging, Ingrid ecstatic. No one on the internet would care about anything else today. Orla could afford, in terms of time and money, to go to the good salad place now.

* * *

That night, Orla wrote three hundred ninety-six words of her novel while watching a dating competition show. She had been aiming for six hundred words, but the episode had been too engrossing. Dabbing at her nose with a tissue, a finalist had confessed that she was bipolar. The oatmeal-faced host had raised his eyebrows and said, "Wow. This is a first for us."

Orla promised herself she would write more tomorrow. Three hundred ninety-six words, she figured, would turn easily into six hundred once she went back and filled in some of the parts about the orthodox Jews. She didn't know any orthodox Jews. She kept meaning to Google them. But along with themes of self-discovery and female sexuality, along with tiny doodles and charts she drew herself, she felt that, to be edgy and relevant, her book needed an orthodox Jew or two. For now, she marked the passages about them with the same shorthand they used at work for "to come" where they didn't yet know what to say in a story: "TK." Then she went to bed and lay awake, thinking she should have done more.

The frustrating part of it, writing a book she wasn't really writing, was that she had been good at this once, when she was young. Orla would spend her afternoons curled over the electric typewriter that sat on her bedroom carpet, her shins beneath her and still encased in the blue knee socks she wore to school. She didn't have time to change; she was filled with urgent, grotesque tragedies, like the one about the murderous lunch lady who ground her child victims into the taco meat, or the one about the baseball player killed by a wild pitch, a fastball that orphaned his nine frilly-named daughters. She was prolific.

There was one main difference between writing now and writing when she was in second grade: Back then, she didn't own screens. Now, whenever a sentence of hers unfurled into something awkward or just never began at all, she gave up. She let her eyes jump from her drab Word document to the brighter planes of her phone and TV. Suddenly it would be 1:00 a.m., and she would be tapping out half-dream run-ons — into her manuscript if she was lucky, Facebook if she wasn't.

All of the scrolling and staring was delaying her grand life plan, the one she had always had. Orla had never not known she would move to New York. That was where authors grew, and she would be an author. She thought, when she walked into a bookstore as a kid, that the novels on the shelves had been emitted, nearly automatically, by the grown-up iterations of each American high school's best writer. In her high school, that was her. She was always winning prizes for her persuasive essays, written on things that didn't matter anymore. She had a ribbon from the governor for her paper on Napster, and she imagined, serenely, when she was young, that New York was holding her place. Then she got to New York and found out that it wasn't. No one cared about her ribbon. She learned what former teen composition all-stars actually did when they got to the city. They blogged.

She had been blogging at Lady-ish now for six years, and trying to do something bigger — write a book — for just as long. She tried to ignore the old teachers who found her on Facebook, who remarked, between Farmville moves, that they couldn't wait to see what she did next.

Not that it was their prophecies that haunted her. No: it was Danny's. That was all part of the pressure, too — a part that grew, strangely, as the years since she had last seen him counted up. Orla thought that perhaps she was striking a bargain with herself: if the whole world wasn't meant to believe she was special, then maybe just him thinking it would be enough.

And now, at twenty-eight, with her brain wrung of thousands of Lady-ish posts and her body sick of being pounded by New York, she was — though she couldn't admit it directly, not even to herself — in search of a shortcut. A way to be someone who had done something without having to actually do it.

A former Lady-ish colleague of hers — she was one of the older women, thirty-three, maybe — had quit the site after selling a compilation of her dating app exchanges to a large publisher. "Now I just have to actually write the damn thing," Orla had overheard the woman say in the ladies' room, the day before she left Lady-ish for good. Her agent, she added, had sold the unwritten book on a single chapter. Orla's ears had perked at that: she had a chapter and then some. Now she just needed an agent. But she had no idea how to get one.

And then, one morning, an agent turned up on the floor outside her apartment.

Orla wouldn't say that she had stolen the business card, really. For one thing, what was a business card these days but a collection of information anyone could find online? For another, Florence was never going to remember dropping the card. She was so drunk when she came home the night before, she could hardly remember which apartment was theirs. Orla had awoken to the sound of her stumbling down the hall, ramming her key into different locks, before finally their door swung open and Florence bellowed from the doorway, "Six! Motherfucking! D! I live in 6D!" A raft of smells — rum, shawarma, Florence's thick cotton-candy perfume — pushed under the fake door in Orla's fake wall, the dinky partition that cut the living room in half, making the one-bedroom two.

It had been three weeks since Florence moved in, and she had never come home before last call. Orla had barely caught a glimpse of her new Craigslist roommate since the day she arrived, braless in a tight white tank top, her long, dark hair straying into her armpits. Florence slept all day and woke at dusk to start primping, the odor of her burning hair mixing with the fumes from Orla's microwave dinner. She left each night just after Orla went to bed, returned around dawn, and settled in to sleep just as Orla left for work, picking her way through the living room aftermath of Florence's night out: shoes shipwrecked in the entryway, clutch forsaken on the kitchen linoleum, credit cards half under the oven, keys still swinging from the door.

But on that morning, there was something else: at least a dozen business cards, strewn across the living room's linted rug. Orla gathered them up and read them all. Modeling scouts, TV producers, beauty company underlings, and one man calling himself a "personal brand cultivator and 360-degree image guru" Orla shuffled the cards together, placed them on the counter and walked out the door.

On the matted, jade-colored carpet near the elevator, faceup, there was one more card. Orla could read it without picking it up: Marie Jacinto, literary agent. The card was not impressive. The name of the firm it advertised had the ring of something small, and its stock was so flimsy that it shuddered slightly when the elevator came and split open.

Orla stepped into the elevator, then put her hand against the door and got back out. Couldn't hurt, was the phrase skipping around in her mind. She had no reason then not to believe it. She was already composing the email she would send Marie Jacinto as she scraped the card off the carpet and slid it into the gut of her purse.

* * *

The apartment was dense with new silence in the mornings, at least between the banshee wails of the fire trucks racing up Eighth. Though she was the one who had lived there for years, Orla found herself trying not to wake Florence up. She watched the morning news on mute, let her hair air-dry, and started picking up coffee after she left instead of grinding beans in the kitchen. Orla told herself that it was better for her brain to have quiet, that her damp waves helped keep her cool in the underground heat of the August subways, that holding a paper coffee cup as she marched into her day was the New York thing to do, anyway. But this was just what she did, and she knew it. Orla had always been the sort of person who let brazen classmates borrow her clothes, the sort of person who said "sorry, sorry" when someone ran into her on the street. The sort of person who could not speak up at Lady-ish team-building tapas, who let her colleagues order awful things, octopus and duck, then failed to secure any carbs for herself. Orla hated tapas. She hated so much about food in New York: six inches of meat in the sandwiches, block-long lines for mutant pastries, the way people talked about chefs as if they knew them intimately. ("That's one of Boulud's places," Ingrid had said casually the other day, as if she sometimes played pickup basketball with him.) Most of all, Orla hated brunch, how it went on all day, pulling everyone out of their apartments and dumping them on the sidewalk, making her seem glaringly alone as she passed by with her solitary bagel.

But there was one good thing about brunch: on Sundays, Florence left to go have it. Orla would hear her in her room — the apartment's real bedroom — agitating her phone into an endless flurry of chimes before finally using it to call someone and rave about her hangover. Vowels stood in for each other at random. "Hay gurl hay," she would whine. "Faaaack. I'm hungover as fuuuuck." The call would conclude with Florence agreeing to meet someone somewhere in twenty minutes. "Getting in a cab now," she would sign off. Then she'd sleep for another hour before clattering out the door.

The Sunday after Orla took the business card, she heard Florence through the walls, braying her way through one of these exchanges. Suddenly, Florence stopped talking, so abruptly that Orla was scared her roommate might be choking. She crawled to the foot of her bed and pulled her laptop from her desk to the comforter. She was Googling the Heimlich maneuver when she heard Florence say, in the unmistakable manner of someone getting another call: "Shit. Call you right back." Orla closed her laptop. She stayed very still. There was something about the way Florence sounded that made Orla wonder who was getting through to her.

"Hi, Mommy," Florence said. There was a flinch in her voice, but a steeliness, too, like she was ducking something sharp before it could be thrown.

"What's wrong with her?" Florence went on, worry leaping into her tone. "Oh. That's no big deal. You scared me. Her paw's always like that." A pause. "Are you kidding? Put her down? She's not even sick. You just don't want to take care of her —"

The air-conditioning unit under Orla's window rattled into action. She leaped up and switched it off.

"Just don't do anything, please," Florence was saying, "until I can afford a flight home. I'll come and get her and bring her back with me — please, Mom."

Orla imagined, rather than heard, the tinny hum of someone protesting on the other end.

"I know you don't believe me," Florence said, "but I'm getting real traction. People out here love my voice. They get me. I'm meeting so many — Give me a few weeks, okay? Forget airfare to Ohio — if things keep going like this, I'll have a record contract soon. I can buy you a new house."

Another pause, then Florence rushing her words out like she regretted it, in a voice so small and beaten Orla almost ran down the hall and hugged her. "No-no-no," Florence said. "I love our house, I didn't mean it like that. It's just something famous singers do."

This time, Orla was sure she could actually hear mocking on the other end.

"Well, I think I could be," Florence said quietly.

After that, there was nothing — no signoffs — and then Orla heard Florence pacing. Orla lifted herself off her bed, avoiding the creaky pit in the mattress, and came to sit on the ground beside her door, one shoulder and ear leaned against it.

Florence was making more calls — short ones.

"I sent you my demo a few months back — Oh, you did?"

"And you thought you might have a spot in the showcase — Oh, it was?"

"I saw your posting about needing models for — Hello?"

"Yes! That's so sweet of you. I mean, I've been working on those songs since — Oh. No. I'm sorry, I have to stop you — I'm not blonde. No, I was the brunette. Sure. I understand. I'll be at this number if you want to — Okay. Bye"

Orla held her breath, waiting for things to resume. She could picture, vaguely, the sort of people Florence must be calling: the so-called promoters and producers who were always male, who claimed to know everyone and have a hand in everything, who did all their business from their cells rather than an office, who picked up the phone on Sundays. The sort who only ever seemed to see potential in pretty girls, sidling up to them at bars to set meetings which, invariably, took place in the man's apartment.

After a minute of silence, she heard Florence murmur, in the stilted tone of someone leaving a voicemail: "Following up on the entry-level programmer position. Fuck,'' she finished softly. Orla hoped she had hung up before that last part. Ten seconds later, Florence left for brunch.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Followers"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Megan Angelo.
Excerpted by permission of Graydon House Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Followers 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous 23 hours ago
Followers was interesting. This book was like a mash between The Circle and The Truman Show. I enjoyed it because although it isn't real quite yet, I think the world is well on its way to becoming like what happened in Followers. There are so many people that follow famous actors and buy what they wear and eat what they eat so that maybe one day they can become like said actors. The story is told in alternating viewpoints between that of Orla in 2015 and that of Marlowe in 2051. It is a history of how that world became the way it is now in 2051 with a "Constellation" community of people that were chosen and grew up with millions of people following them on the network with their devices. I liked reading about both of the characters. They were likeable, regular people with regular thoughts, one who feels trapped by her lack of choice since it is determined by her followers comments and by the products that are sponsoring her and the other that just wants to make her mark in the world and become important. This was a good and kind of scary book because I hope the world doesn't become like this one. If it does then I would probably run off to Atlantis.
Library_Jen 3 days ago
This story is told from two different points of view in two different time periods. In 2015 Orla Cadden, an aspiring writer, is working on her novel and blogging about celebrities for Lady-ish. When Orla's roommate, Floss Natuzzi, discovers what Orla does for a living, she convinces Orla to write about her as though she's famous. Orla is dubious, but they pull it off and Floss becomes a celebrity almost overnight. Unfortunately, Orla is dragged into the spotlight by association and the consequences aren't quite what she imagined. In 2051 Marlow, a thirty-something woman with over 11 million "followers" lives her life on camera almost 24/7 (think Truman Show). Her life is basically an advertisement for a drug called Hysterl, which supposedly keep Marlow on an even keel emotionally. When she and her husband get the news from the writers & producers that they're going to have a baby as part of their next story arc, Marlow discovers that all is not as it seems with her family. She has to decide how to process that information and what kind of life she really wants to live. The two stories seem completely disconnected for at least the first quarter of the book, but as soon as the connection is made, the reader can also guess the ending. I really wanted to love this book! The premise is fabulous, but the execution is just over the top and the characters are completely unlikable. Honestly, I didn't care what happened to any of them or what happened to cause the huge change in American culture between 2015 and 2051. The writing was all over the place - in some chapters it felt like a campy farce and in others it felt more like literary fiction. Then, the last chapter is nothing but a listing of what happens to everyone after the end of the book. There were lots of snide asides and commentary on technology today and our addiction to devices, including a very obvious pointed jab at the end about Trump and his presidency. While I agree with the author's views on technology, I don't want them bashing me over the head as I try to escape in a fiction book. And while I despise Trump's policies, again I don't read fiction to have the author's politics crammed down my throat, even when I agree with them. Sadly, this book was a disappointment to me and I cannot recommend it. Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
MarziesReads 4 days ago
Equal parts satire and dystopian fiction, a wry examination of how the internet rewards bad behavior 3.75 Stars Followers offers a satirical look at social media, fame, and society. It follows three different women in two timelines. In the late 2010s, we follow Orla Cadden, a literary wannabe who is stuck blogging about famous people like sad Sage Sterling for Lady-ish an online tabloid, and Floss Natuzzi, an A-List wannabe who is looking for her ticket to fame or infamy, whichever works out first. In the 2050s, we follow Marlow, daughter of Floss, and the singer Aston Clipp. Marlow is caught in a demimonde of reality TV in which her entire life is curated based on media follows and commentary. Right down to her future pregnancy with Ellis, a man she doesn't love and hopes the producers will have her divorce. Marlow's entire life has been given over to the decisions of others. She is a living, walking advertisement for a psychotropic drug, Hysteryl. At thirty-five, she isn't sure who she is exactly. That becomes even truer after some genetic testing for her pregnancy reveals questions about her parentage. But the only way Marlow is going to find answers is by breaking away from the show and everything she's ever known. By listening to the real voice in her head instead of a live stream courtesy of an implant that doubles as a GPS tracker. Angelo has written an interesting piece of satire that is sometimes quite biting in its exploration of human nature's seeming love of outrage, cruelty, cyberbullying, and other bad behavior. While the novel is designed to be a takedown of our internet-obsessed culture, I felt that it seemed to waver in its goals of satire by getting bogged down in Marlow's origin story. The softening of a perspective on Floss left me dissatisfied, though I suppose one could argue that forgiveness is a thing. But to me, this character gave the reader a lot, a whole lot, to forgive. Still, it's an engaging read even though you kind of hate yourself for wanting to know what happens next with these mostly vile humans. In that respect, Angelo has made her point about fame and popular culture. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Jayme Mattler, whose narration captures the three women, and that of Aston, who has a speech impediment. (I should note Aston's disability is not central to the story though it has informed part of how he became famous initially.) I received a Digital Review Copy and paper review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Ms-Hurst 5 days ago
Followers. Once a derogatory term for people who simply do what others do and don't think for themselves. Somehow "followers" has become a sought after currency in our world. This books is about the new meaning of the word, but it reminded me of the old one in a way I haven't thought of in a long time. We spring back and forth between 2015 and 2051 for most of the book. In 2015 Orla and Floss are roommates who work the internet fame system for all it is worth. Floss is the face but Orla is more than a sidekick. They are outrageous. Somehow coming back from every scandal. You keep wondering how far they can really push this. In 1951 the world is very different. The Spill is referenced. All we know is that everything changed with The Spill and the fact that screens seem to have been driving us mad. The government took over the internet and Constellation was created to get people to trust it again. Constellation, CA. A collection of stars. People who live their lives on camera. Devices send and receive everything straight through you. No screens needed. The residents of Constellation are valued by the number of followers they have hanging on their every move. The goal is to stay popular. Marlow has spent most of her life here. She doesn't know anything about how the rest of the world lives. She doesn't really even know how she lives. Does she make any decisions herself? Or are they all fed to her through her "device"? We know that Marlow is connected to Orla and Floss. The 30+ span of the book shows how everything came to be and how everyone is connected. The three women are connected. Megan Angelo starts with all of these separate threads and eventually brings their stories all together in a surprisingly touching way. Thanks to Megan Angelo, Graydon House Books, and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Rosie_Reads 5 days ago
Followers is a coming of age story for two (sort of 3) women, one in the future, and one in the present. Eventually, the storyline meets in the middle and surprisingly connects the women. Completely unpredictable. It was a fun read, albeit laborious to pick up at times. Not my usual genre, but glad I chose it. I love the cover art and received Followers for free from NetGalley.
LauraInLiteraryLand 6 days ago
Followers takes place in two time periods: 2015/16 and 2051. The book follows three women and their relationships with internet/social media fame. In 2015, Orla is writing for a celebrity gossip blog but longs to publish a novel and her roommate, Floss (I know, I know -- these names!) is in desperate pursuit of notoriety. Orla and Floss team up to try and further each other and in the process, stumble into social media stardom. Thirty-six years in the future (2051), Marlow lives in Constellation, California which is a giant social media stage. The entire town exists for exposure on social media -- sunsets are projected onto an enormous screen so they're always perfect and tree leaves are controlled so that the change of seasons occurs at just the right time. People in Constellation are given plots, corporate sponsors, storylines, and wardrobes -- their entire life exists to be consumed by their followers 24 hours a day. Marlow struggles to be content in the limelight that Orla and Floss were so obsessed with and wonders if there is more meaning to life. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ Followers was a completely unique read for me. While I'm new to the dystopian/sci-fi genre, I'm not entirely sure that Followers falls solidly into that category, which was a large part of its charisma. I enjoyed that the main characters are women and because the book occurs within a span of 36 years we see multiple stages of these women's lives. I found this book very thought provoking regarding our use of technology, our dependence on technology, and society's fascination with social media influencers, instafame, and "reality-based" celebrities. Followers was entertaining, deeply thoughtful, thoroughly compelling, and at times dark and terrifying. It will definitely strike a chord with readers of our technological, social media rich age. ⁣⁣⁣ Thank you Harlequin Books and NetGalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous 7 days ago
The followers follows 2 timelines, current day and 2051. In the current day, we find Orla, an aspiring author with a roommate named Floss that is working on “making it”. To make ends meet, Orla finds herself writing for a gossip web-zine called Lady-ish. When the celebrity that Orla writes all of her articles about dies, she finds that she needs a new celebrity to follow or she will be out of a job. Orla and Floss combine their talents and turn Floss into the next big thing, influencer du jour and twitter famous in the blink of an eye. In the 2051 timeline, we find ourselves in Constellation, California, a picture perfect community designed by The Network to be not just a reality show, but several reality shows in one community. The stars all where a device that allows them to see their followers, read commentary and allows The Network to influence their choices and behaviors. The story focuses on Marlow, who has lived in the community since she was 5. She has grown up in front of the camera for the past 30 years and has had every moment of her life filmed and directed. After a violent episode in her teen years, she even finds herself as the face of Hysteryl, a mood stabilizing drug that keeps her “happy”. When the Network decides that she needs to have a baby to spice up her life for her followers, Marlow has to stop taking Hysteryl. As she emerges from the drugs haze, she realizes that she is not happy with her picture perfect life and when a lab tech tells her about an anomaly with her DNA, Marlow decides she wants answers. While Marlow is looking for answers, she discover the story of her parents, Floss and Aston and their short lived reality show that featured Orla as the nerdy disgruntled roommate. She also finds herself face to face with her nemesis who helps her discover the truth as it centers around The Spill. The book is an interesting commentary about social media and sharing, the desire for celebrity and it’s consequences. It pokes fun at influencers and people who find themselves famous just because they are famous. This was a light and sometimes dark read, humorous and thought provoking. It would be a good beach read, a book club read and even a required reading for later high school and early college to discuss the media and other agencies role in our lives and our actions. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
AOMullan44 8 days ago
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. "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 social media obsessed society. This story is written with alternating time lines and switches between New York in 2015 where it follows two ambitious young women, Orla and Florence and the future in Constellation, California in 2051 where 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. How are these three women connected? What are they willing to sacrifice for their dreams? I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! The author's descriptive writing style immediately captured my attention. The futuristic setting was intriguing and entertaining. The title and story 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. I found it to be a well paced, pleasurable read that was often difficult to put down! I highly recommend this book. I received an ARC from Graydon House through BookishFirst in exchange for my honest review.
AmyM43 9 days ago
4.5 2015: Orla moved to New York to become great. Specifically she wants to become a writer. Instead she's ended up writing for a gossip site, documenting the lasted celebrity missteps or trends. She lives in a tiny apartment that she shares with her roommate Floss. Floss is determined to be someone, however that may happen, she's destined for the spotlight. No matter how she has to get there. Together Orla and Floss come up with a plan that promises to benefit both of their goals. At least that's how it starts out. How it finishes is another matter entirely. 2051: Marlow lives in Constellation a closed-off community in California where people live their lives entirely on camera 24/7. Their screentime/stories are dictated by the amount of Followers they have and where they can do the most with their brand. When Marlow learns a shocking secret about her family she begins to question the openness of the life she lives, one dictated by a network and corporate sponsors. When she flees Constellation in search of the truth about herself she'll see that there's only so far you can run when everyone knows your face. Followers was a read that kept building and building upon what we thought we already knew. I know when I started reading, before really getting into the story, I felt like knew exactly how things would play out just based on the blurb, but I loved that Megan Angelo was able to pull some truly terrifying surprises and that they're not exactly in the way you would expect. Followers is certainly a commentary about our own use of social media and how much we rely on technology and our online culture that breeds influencers alongside trolls. How the term "friend" is subjective. What makes it truly terrifying is the idea that I could definitely see things come to fruition in the way they do in Followers in the very near future. Some of it certainly feels like it's happening now. I think that was a strong point on Megan Angelo's part in making the story not too far off that we - readers - couldn't see ourselves in the story and experience the impact along with the characters. I liked the slow-build of the story. It's not pulse-pounding and doesn't really hit the ground running, but all the same, I was drawn into it thoroughly. I wanted to see how the past and the future connected, how we got to the point where we're constantly plugged in and what that really means for privacy. I wanted to find out what else is out there. See other ways that people are forming their paths. I did feel a little foggy about the dynamics of the world outside Constellation as opposed to the world inside Constellation. We get a clear(er) view of how things work inside via Marlow's experiences, but once she runs there's not much time to build up how others - those whose lives are not constantly on camera - have fared since the 2015 timeline shift. We do get a quasi look, but I don't think it's speaking to the every(wo)man, as the case may be. To be fair, the story on the whole is mainly concerned with the individual journeys of Marlow, Orla and - to a lesser extent - Floss and how their lives have been influenced by technology, and in that regard I think it hits the mark perfectly. Overall Followers is a very thought-provoking read about how we connect with each other what we keep to ourselves and what we decide to put out there for anyone to see, and the coldness of losing that face to face human connection.
Alfoster 9 days ago
This dystopian novel is like Brave New World on steroids! There are so many social issues addressed here that my head was constantly spinning! Alternating chapters tell the story of Orla and Marlow in a futuristic world where The Spill caused technology to crash due to a worldwide hacking attempt. After that the world is never the same; social media is revered as "celebrities" stream 23 hours a day even though their lives are largely scripted by corporations that vie for attention and seek to influence followers. As the chapters vacillate between the years 2015 and 2051, we don't know what the connection between Orla and Marlow is until later in the book--but it's a good twist! I was fascinated by this novel as Angelo paints a picture of the world that could become reality if we don't curb our obsession with social media and forget that true humanity lies in the actual human connection we must forge with our families and loved ones instead of relying on "likes" and followers to endow us with self-esteem. Oh, and turn off your phone while you read this! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
Alliespeaks 10 days ago
What would you do to gain follower on social media? Would you compromise on your morals to be 'famous'? The Follower's story line is broken between two timelines and told from multiple perspectives. We have Orla, a wanna be writer who in 2015 works for a gossip blog. Floss, a wanna be social media influencer, who's really only interested in being famous. Last we have Marlow, who in 2051, and at the age of 35 is finally starting to question her life. Each women's' life is extremely different from the next but all of their lives are intertwine in a way we don't expect. Marlow, is my favorite character. Born during 'The Spill' which was an emotional terrorist attack on the United States, she lives in Constellation California with her every move recorded. She's a modern day (2051) reality TV star and everything she does is quantified by the number of followers she gains/losses. It was extremely hard to imagine walking through life with the constant thought that everyone was watching me. But it also makes you really think about how we already use Instagram society media to portray only what we want people see. Angelo does a great job of depicting, both through Marlow's narrative and the early years of Floss and Orla, the impact of social media on our lives and our health. I really enjoyed the dystopian vibes Angelo gave us as well. The 'Spill' was an emotional terror attack on the US, which started with knocking out all devices. Then slowly started to release secrets of the general public to provide the emotion terror aspect. I really liked that even with the technology apocalypse, the world in 2051 is still running fairly the same as in 2015. There wasn't a huge explosion everything is wiped out type of dystopian. To me the dystopian effect seemed more realistic with it's slow exposure of 'the fog' and the way technology was hacked. The biggest difference is the use of devices. No more blue screen and more big brother watching over you. This book was such a fast read, I could barely put it down. I felt that I was reading the script of a reality TV series, which was thoroughly entertaining. A solid ★★★★☆ rating. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Followers. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books. Huge thanks to Graydon House and Bookishfirst for my advanced copy of the book.
Felicia_Medina 10 days ago
From the first chapter, this book had me straightjacketed. It snatched me up and held me rapt until the last word. It's just, ugh, there is no word. Oh wait, I got it... IT'S ELECTRIFYING! *using bad Danny Zuko/John Travolta impression* ☆ Megan Angelo's writing is top notch. She has flawlessly woven a complex, multilayered and intelligent tale of the current state of social media and the dramatic effects it has on society some thirty years in the future. ☆ Angelo offers up a masterclass in character development. There are a ton of characters in this story but I never once felt lost. She fleshed out the three main characters masterfully while simultaneously creating peripheral characters that were real and memorable. ☆ I really encourage you to read the description before diving into this one (but not the reviews). The author drops you off right in the middle of the lives of the main characters and reading the description helped me to quickly gain my bearings. Just a friendly suggestion. ☆ Side Note: this cover has GOT TO GO. It is entirely too uninteresting, especially considering the jewel that lies inside. Plus, it reminds me of a trademark graphic for a feminine hygiene product. ☆ Although Followers doesn't come out until next year, I already know it'll be in my top 10. It's just that damn good. ** I received a complimentary ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **
Felicia_Medina 10 days ago
From the first chapter, this book had me straightjacketed. It snatched me up and held me rapt until the last word. It's just, ugh, there is no word. Oh wait, I got it... IT'S ELECTRIFYING! *using bad Danny Zuko/John Travolta impression* ☆ Megan Angelo's writing is top notch. She has flawlessly woven a complex, multilayered and intelligent tale of the current state of social media and the dramatic effects it has on society some thirty years in the future. ☆ Angelo offers up a masterclass in character development. There are a ton of characters in this story but I never once felt lost. She fleshed out the three main characters masterfully while simultaneously creating peripheral characters that were real and memorable. ☆ I really encourage you to read the description before diving into this one (but not the reviews). The author drops you off right in the middle of the lives of the main characters and reading the description helped me to quickly gain my bearings. Just a friendly suggestion. ☆ Side Note: this cover has GOT TO GO. It is entirely too uninteresting, especially considering the jewel that lies inside. Plus, it reminds me of a trademark graphic for a feminine hygiene product. ☆ Although Followers doesn't come out until next year, I already know it'll be in my top 10. It's just that damn good. ** I received a complimentary ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **
Michelle811 10 days ago
I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I thought this was going to be more of a "guilty pleasure" type read, but it turned out to be so much more than that. The timeline jumps between our (more or less) present day and 40 years into the future, as we follow the stories of Orla, Floss, and Marlow and discover how they interconnect. I loved how Angelo snuck in some sly political commentary and gently poked fun at our American ways in the days of the smartphone. I enjoyed her creation of the world after smartphones, and the way she addresses questions I ponder about the effects of our current lifestyles on our future selves. The book was well written, engaging, and very entertaining and not at all in a Kardashian type manner (despite the Kendall quote in the front pages!) While I didn't find the plot to be totally unexpected, it was well done. I did end up with some questions at the end though, in particular (view spoiler) All in all, this was a great, fun read and I really appreciate the win from Bookish First! Thanks!
Bibliomatter 10 days ago
I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I put it down. Only a few pages in I was totally immersed. I was so interested in where the story would go, that I hadn't thought about the real life implications until I was finished. There's something really bittersweet about enjoying a book like this and then worrying about what direction we're taking in real life; what if it all turned out like this? I think this is a really fantastic book for teens to read these days. I wish I had a chance to read something like this when I was in university, ignoring a "real social life" to play the game that is social media. I hope that this story will inspire change in those who read it. Overall, very impressed and looking forward to future books by the author.
bookishIN 10 days ago
A fitting tale for our celebrity obsessed times. This engaging story takes place in 2015 and 2051. In 2015, we follow website gossip writer, Orla, and her wanna-be instafamous roommate, Floss, as they grow Floss's popularity through social media. In 2051, Marlow lives in a modern day version of The Truman show, her emotions blunted by taking a medication that "sponsors" her celebrity. The story alternates back and forth between the two time periods and slowly we see how theses two stories intersect and how the characters are relevant to each other. It is very well written and you come to really care about all of these characters. Angelo paints a relevant cautionary tale about the seedy downside of obsession with celebrity culture and plants some interesting food for thought about hypothetical long term consequences of the obsessive use of our little rectangle devices that really makes you stop and think. This was a great read and I hope this book enjoys all the success it deserves.
TheCandidCover 10 days ago
Followers by Megan Angelo is a sci-fi book that will give the reader pause. The concept is shocking and addresses many issues in today’s society. It also contains characters that are spellbinding and interesting, yet all have something to hide. It really questions the way we live our lives attached to our online personas. The story is set in alternating timelines and is told in multiple perspectives. Followers takes a look at our world today and then imagines how the US would react after a technological “Spill.” As the timelines of 2015 and 2055 overlap and converge Orla, Marlow, and Floss discover each other and themselves in worlds that value its reality stars. ❀ BELIEVABLE NIGHTMARE During the 2015 and onward timeline, Orla and Floss create online personalities that become famous overnight. Although, the price they pay for attracting their followers affects their lives and relationships. It is a very believable nightmare that turns uglier after the Spill. Then, in 2055, we find Floss and her daughter Marlow living in a so-called utopia called Constellation. This fictitious world created by writers and producers is similar to the film, The Truman Show. It is a life that continues to be measured by followers, even in this new age. ❀ CAPTIVATING So many issues are brought to light in this novel, such as privacy, patriarchy, and technology. What would happen to a world that is so dependent on technology to have it suddenly yanked away from them? Is a hand held device really something to not live without? Megan Angelo will have readers captivated by the possibility with Followers. ❀ THOUGHT-PROVOKING Fans of the genre and those that question our dependency on technology will be intrigued by Followers. It is an engaging and thought-provoking read that will keep you turning pages.
SevenAcreBooks 10 days ago
What starts as a humorous, slightly catty look at social media turns into a chilling and dark commentary on our obsession with likes and followers. I fully expected this to be a light, fluffy read that would keep me entertained for a few hours and instead found myself dropped into a dark and twisted future that seems all to real and likely to happen. Told through two timelines, we are introduced to a future where entire towns are filled with reality tv stars and are on camera non-stop. Marlow, a young starlet who has spent almost her entire life in front of the camera having her everyday life written and directed by the Network, has few memories of her life before. The face of Hysteryl, a mood stabilizing drug she has been using since puberty, Marlow spends her day in medicated contented bliss. When the Network decided it's time for her and her husband to have a child, the drug must be stopped during the pregnancy and is slowly weaned off as she prepares for her sowing party, her emotions slowly return and the mental clarity creates her first feelings of dread and uncertainty of spending the rest of her life having her every move dictated by others. When a lab technician discovers there is a discrepancy in Marlow's DNA, Marlow sets out to discover the truth about her parents and her past. As Marlow searches for clues to her past, we learn through flashbacks about the social media rise of the couple that Marlow believes to be her parents. Floss Natuzzi and Aston Clipp rose to Internet super stardom with the help of blogger Orla Cadden and a series of outrageous stunts. When their Instagram stardom leads to a reality tv show, the three spend their days pretending to live their real life on camera while a small crew of writers create the scandalous and shocking scripts for them to follow. After an Instagram message inadvertently causes a horrific event, the three social media stars are cast out as social pariahs. The fallout of the event helped to spur on the Spill, a tragic and worldwide phenomenon that changed the world forever. This book was fascinating! Not only does Megan Angelo give us a world ruled by social media and reality tv, but everyone also has an implanted device that allows them to see their standings and comments from followers. The devices provide a way for producers to directly influence their stars and direct their behavior. Living with a complete lack of privacy is second nature to the residents of Constellation, a town completely set up to provide 24 hour access to the followers of the show. With only one hour a day allowed to themselves off camera, found in the very wee hours of the morning, Marlow and her fellow residents have their every word and movement scrutinized and commented on by their millions of followers. How absolutely terrifying! Even more so when you know someone in our present day has definitely had that idea and there are those out there who would love to watch a group of people live out every moment of their life with no editing or commercial breaks. Angelo created a story that deftly combined the two timelines with enough twists and turns that you are always kept guessing as to how the two are truly intertwined. The Spill, not going to spoil that little nugget, is frightening in it's believability. To have one event completely change the future of the entire world-terrifying. Followers is thought-provoking, chilling, and fascinating. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publis
Suleika-All_About_Books 10 days ago
First of all I knew I would like this book from the blurb which is why I wanted to read it, but I didn't really think I would love it as much as I did. The story is so good, so intriguing and interesting. I don't think I've ever read a book with this plot, I know there are a few movies like this, but this is definitely the first time I read this plot. I loved how the story connects and how the characters are connected as well. Also the characters are so well written and developed that you really get to know them well and feel like you know them. The story is written in 2 different time lines and it does go back and forth but it is very easy to follow. I would definitely recommend this book to all my friends!
Shoeguru 10 days ago
I really liked this book. It goes back and forth in time to cover Orla and Floss. Orla works for a blog and meets Floss and uses her job and wiles to make Floss internet famous. The life that she creates gets away from her and she ends up escaping after finding out she is going to be a mother. For Floss, there is nothing but being famous and no wrong way to do it. She seeks to raise Orla's child as her own as a way to increase her brand. Fast forward into the future, the girl Marlow lives her life entirely online and knows nothing about what has happened. She ends up leaving her life to try to find out what happened and to understand who she is. The book covers both of these different time periods and really made me think about what we are putting online and how much is too much. I will be recommending this book to others and loved how unique it is.
ultralurkykitty 10 days ago
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but was hooked from the moment I started reading it. The main characters are Orla, Floss and Marlow and how their lives are driven and interconnected by social media. The characters are initially, not that likeable, but they do have some waking up and growing up to do. There are two time periods: 2016 and 2051. It is a disturbing and interesting story, as all we have to do is look around us at people glued to their phones, counting their followers and watching ridiculous reality tv shows, to realize that the future in Followers is eerily possible. The dystopian future portrayed is quite chilling. I enjoyed the conclusion as the characters connected at the end. Very difficult to put down and highly readable.
TheBookKeepers 10 days ago
Each year, America becomes more and more digitized. Our private information is everywhere online and increases our vulnerability of privacy; the new phenomenon of cyber-terrorism is a legitimate growing concern. This makes The Spill, alarmingly realistic. The themes in this novel explore our obsession with screens, media, follower counts, and fame. The futuristic world that Megan Angelo creates does not feel far out of reach with reality. I thought this was a very impressive debut novel. The characters all had strong voice and the plot moved along at a great pace. At times the story went a little dark and gave me a sense of psychological thriller, which I think was the author’s intent. The political themes shown through brightly, and the last few chapter’s satirical mood was humorous. Though this part did feel a little oversaturated for me, I enjoyed the story as a whole. My final rating of this book is 3.5 stars, I enjoyed it but didn’t necessarily love it. My motivation to pick this story up each night waned, and with 400+ pages it wasn’t a quick read. The content was so realistic that it didn’t feel like a dystopian world one could escape to but more of an ominous future for our society. The character development was phenomenal, but I never felt emotionally connected to their fates. I liked how their stories wove together and found the ending very fitting and pleasantly unpredictable. I bet this book will be a hot seller for 2020, and definitely one that will garner much discussion! Followers will be a fantastic book club selection with its morally grey themes encircling social media today and the impact it has on those whose lives revolve around it. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction, with a touch of sci-fi!
paigereadsthepage 10 days ago
Followers is a timely debut novel about the power of social media, the internet, and technology. It demonstrates the effect it has on our relationships and the damage that can be caused because of its influence. Have our friendships and family dynamics changed because of the prominence of social media? How has the internet changed us? What is the purpose of social media, and who is accountable for what is promoted on our pages/feeds: society or individuals? In Followers, a dystopian atmosphere is painted to show different outcomes that could occur if balance is not reached. Chapters alternate between Marlow and Orla: Is privacy only an illusion? In Marlow’s world, in 2051, her life almost seems to be choreographed in order to keep her followers online. But, can likes replace loneliness? Marlow’s world consists of pleasing a tyrannical pharmaceutical company, Hysteryl, who helped create her brand. Marlow starts to question the difference between friends and online followers. How can her life feel so empty when she has millions who watch her every move? When asked to take the next big step in her life in order to pacify the public, Marlow realizes that she amounts to more than publicists, branding, and marketing. How will she escape when the program can track her, bots can automatically identify anyone in passing, and everyone recognizes her from the media? Orla, a struggling writer in 2015, lives in an age promoting endless distractions. Until she creates a name for herself, she feels that she must rely on trends and the rich and famous to maintain a prolific workflow in New York as a budding blogger. Meanwhile, her new roommate looks for fame and wants to market herself on social media as a career. Constantly buried in their devices, how different are they really? What is the value of their work, and how does it influence their relationship and those around them? Rating explained: I really enjoyed this novel and recommend it to readers who enjoy dystopian fiction. This was 4 stars for me instead of 5 because there were several subplots that caused the intensity of story line to subside. In the end, there was a big moment where I had to suspend belief regarding a city in the future called Atlantis, especially concerning the economics involved. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy. Opinions are my own.
thebookblondie 10 days ago
Followers by Megan Angelo (#5 in 2020) Thank you to Graydon House for my gifted copy of this newbie as well as the secondary one I used for a giveaway! Orla lands herself a random roommate named Florence to fill the other room in her New York City apartment. As complete opposites, Orla seeks to become a famous writer and Florence, or Floss, desperately wants to become a family celebrity by any means necessary. When their paths finally cross as more than just roommates, the duo makes a plan to become famous. Followers charts the girls' progress on their way toward fame through the mistakes they make, the dark choices they make, and the way they relinquish the concept of privacy for the fame they so desperately want. Followers takes place between two different time periods: the "present," 2015, and the future, 2051. The story is also told from two points of view: Orla and Marlow. Orla, as we already know is Floss's friend in the year 2015. Orla's personal qualities are familiar-- ambitious, creative, and intelligent. Orla and her roommate, Floss, make questionable choices to catapult Floss toward the fame she is so desperate to attain. In the midst of Orla's journalistic approach to helping Floss achieve fame, Orla somehow also winds up in the reality TV spotlight, a place she never dreamed she'd be. I felt like I understood Orla's feelings as she was caught between the excitement of fame and a simultaneous hatred for the person she had become. As tensions rise and as drama ensues, Orla realizes that the path she chose might not be the one that would have made her happy. Marlow, on the other hand, is a character from 2051. She lives in a celebrity-centered town in California where her every move is watched and criticized by her followers who watch her on live broadcasting every day. Marlow's claim to fame is a reality-style stream where her followers focus on her everyday life and criticize her appearance, actions, and words. Her network is sponsored by a pharmaceutical company who controls her emotions through the use of their drugs. While readers are learning about Orla and her "fame project," Marlow, in the future, is trying to detach herself from the famous life she's known and seeks to delve deeply into who she truly is. I picked up on an incredibly sarcastic and humorous tone amidst the drama of the story; I love a good mixture of comedy and drama. The unnamed president described in Followers is... oddly familiar... and the topics of pharmaceuticals, security, privacy, and immigration are all addressed in various ways. I love any opportunity for an author to make comments on society, especially when those comments connect to controversial topics... and ESPECIALLY when the literary technique takes on a satirical tone.  BRAVO to Megan Angelo for questioning our vices, for evaluating our questionable choices, for criticizing our current societal values, and for focusing the motivation behind our goals. 4.5 stars!
Jolie 11 days ago
I found Followers fascinating to read. Mainly because I can 100% picture what happened in the book happening in real life. I did wonder how Marlow, Orla, and Floss were all tied together. But I wasn’t expecting what was revealed. It shocked me. I did find parts of the book to be a little hard to believe (the whole scene with Marlow being tied up in the car was a big one) but over all, it was an interesting read. Scary but interesting.