Book Review: Followers

FollowersFollowers by Megan Angelo

An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make and the profound moment that changes the meaning of privacy forever.

Orla Cadden dreams of literary success, but she’s stuck writing about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Orla has no idea how to change her life until her new roommate, Floss―a striving, wannabe A-lister―comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they so desperately crave. But it’s only when Orla and Floss abandon all pretense of ethics that social media responds with the most terrifying feedback of all: overwhelming success.

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, even horrible things, to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is 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.

Review:
This is such a timely novel with a great premise — about how social media influencers are made and maintained, how social media could be in the future, and how it would be different if it were controlled by the government.
I love books that speculate on our future by making one change, and this book does that. What if the internet were hacked and the government took it over?
The book follows Orla, a blog type reporter, and her roommate Floss, who becomes a social media influencer in the present. It also follows Marlow in the near future who lives live-streamed in a constructed town in California.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the present and the future in this book and the exploration of the “what ifs”. I also liked how the story lines converged. However, something was a bit off for me. Perhaps it was because, although I found the characters fine, I had a hard time actually liking any of them. I’m not quite sure. Maybe it was the pacing of the book. However, I did find it thought provoking and find myself thinking about it still.
Thank you to Netgalley and Graydon House Books for the review copy.
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Book Review: Gone Too Long

Gone Too Long by Lori Roy

“This electrifying novel…[is] a gripping mystery with a timely, unnerving message–you won’t be able to look away.”
People, “Book of the Week”
“A book so good you can’t look away.”
O Magazine, “Best Books of Summer”

Two-time Edgar Award-winning author Lori Roy entangles readers in a heart-pounding tale of two women battling for survival against a century’s worth of hate.

On the day a black truck rattles past her house and a Klan flyer lands in her front yard, ten-year-old Beth disappears from her Simmonsville, Georgia, home. Armed with skills honed while caring for an alcoholic mother, she must battle to survive the days and months ahead.

Seven years later, Imogene Coulter is burying her father–a Klan leader she has spent her life distancing herself from–and trying to escape the memories his funeral evokes. But Imogene is forced to confront secrets long held by Simmonsville and her own family when, while clearing out her father’s apparent hideout on the day of his funeral, she finds a child. Young and alive, in an abandoned basement, and behind a door that only locks from the outside.

As Imogene begins to uncover the truth of what happened to young Beth all those years ago, her father’s heir apparent to the Klan’s leadership threatens her and her family. Driven by a love that extends beyond the ties of blood, Imogene struggles to save a girl she never knew but will now be bound to forever, and to save herself and those dearest to her. Tightly coiled and chilling, Gone Too Long ensnares, twists, and exposes the high price we are willing to pay for the ones we love.

Review:
This book captivated me from page one. I’ll admit it was slow at times, but it was still griping.
Imogene’s father is a Klan leader, and though she does not follow the Klan’s beliefs, the rest of her family does. She is struggling after her husband and son were killed in an accident. After her father’s death she finds a child being kept in her father’s secret hideout.
This is also the story of Beth, who was kidnapped and held for years by a Klan member.
We spend a lot of time in each of these women’s heads as they struggle to cope with their situations. These are both strong women who, while being vulnerable, do what they need to do to survive. The characters were very well developed and I was so anxious for them, turning the pages to find out how their stories would turn out. There was almost a psychological thriller aspect to the whole thing.
The narrative is also interspersed with pages about the history of the Ku Klux Klan, which is fascinating and definitely adds to the story. The author clearly did her research as the parts about the Klan felt authentic.
Overall, this book is harrowing, gripping, and timely. I found the writing compelling and the author did an amazing job with her ambitious mandate.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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