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 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 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.Amazon
I can’t wait to the end of this review
Would I recommend it?
Why THIS Book?
I saw an Instagram or a TikTok about it. Honestly, I can’t remember which one but it gave a tiny blurb and I thought… “gee, that sounds interesting…” so I requested the book from the library (I don’t purchase hard-bound books) and figured I would read it whenever it showed up. Well, it showed up and I read it and Boy Howdy was it good!
Atmosphere / Style
There is actually not a lot special about the atmosphere or the writing style. It is easy to read even though it tells parallel stories that are separated by over twenty-five years. Because it is the third person, we don’t have to worry about shifting character voices and this allows Angelo to give us a lot of character growth and interest without ever having to be heavy-handed with the exposition.
Mostly it is straightforward and easy but there are subtle hints and pop culture digs that help it evolve into something literary, not just a passive beach read.
We have two main characters and I loved and rooted for both of them. We also have a few side characters that are so real that it almost hurts. I am dying to know if they are based on real-life people because they are so familiar. Again, they had growth and self-awareness which made them active parts of their stories… and I loved it.
I loved this plot. It is speculative fiction at its absolute best. The “recent past” is pretty contemporary (no mention of the COVID etc but that just helps us remember that this is a different world even if it is sooooo very very much our world. The future portion of the book was sci-fi without being spaceships. There are subtle things and not so subtle things and they add up to a highly believable future version of our mirror world.
The tension starts in the prologue and builds perfectly. Bu the time I was 1/3rd away front the end, I couldn’t put the book down. There are no “twists” but there are things that are carefully revealed at just the right time. It s masterful storytelling.
The “big reveal” was not that big… fair warning… but that was actually ok… not ok… better than ok… that was preferred. We aren’t reading this book to see this one moment… we are reading it to see how the world was for these very specific characters before and after this big moment. By shifting the focus slightly, it makes that big reveal a necessary plot point but not the essential climax…. In the hands of a lesser author, I feel that the emphasis would have been misplaced and the story would have suffered. Thank goodness Angelo was the one writing this.
Oh… one thing I shoul mention. There is a sudden violent act that was shocking and … gorey It stands out in sharp relief because there wasn’t much to prepare for its coming and it is an isolated incident. This works for the story though. It is not a sign of bad writing… but a sign of good writing because that moment is given the weight it deserves and the reactions to it are perfectly in sync with what we know about the world.
There is a risk of telling two parallel stories in two different time periods… at some point, one story has to end so that the other can continue. In this case, the transition was seamless and perfectly pitched.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Like I said, I didn’t want to put this book down. I was curious up to the very end.. And then there was an epilogue of sorts that made me hug myself with happiness.
Again… Would I recommend this book?
Again… yes! A resounding yes. I am actually sorry that I have to return it to the library. I must own this book (I have ordered the paperback that came out late last year). It is the best book I have read in 2021. I highly recommend it.
*** ASPECT Method (I created this, I used it, feel free to do the same.)
A Atmosphere: How did it make me feel? What was the world like? This might include the overall tone.
S Style: What was the writing style like? Simplistic or sophisticated? Clunky or beautiful?
P Plot/Pace: Was it engaging? Were there holes? Did it feel too rushed or too long?
E Enjoyment: Was it a chore to finish or compelling enough that I picked it over other fun activities?
C Characters: Were they believable, sympathetic, interesting?
T This? Why did I read *This* book?