I had no sooner finished reading Angelo's debut novel than I started to see people tweeting about an article about an Instagram "influencer" and the woman who was her friend and un-sung (according to her) ghostwriter for a number of years. I found the article and had to double-check the date it was written because the story told there of two young women who meet in New York and team up to take on social media. One has low self-confidence but the ability to work hard and write and the other is a super-confident, though somewhat feckless, woman who wants nothing more than to be famous. That true story (told by the former ghostwriter about their damaging friendship) could have been the start of Angelo's prescient, timely novel.
In Followers Orla Cadden is stuck writing click-bait articles about low-ranking stars. She wants more but isn't sure how to get it and feels her life is stagnating. That changes when she starts talking with her roommate, Floss. Floss has all the style and verve that Orla lacks and seems to be on the cusp of making it big (fame-wise). The two team up to make Floss famous and succeed beyond their wildest and worst dreams, with devastating results. 35 years later, after a technological catastrophe called the Spill, another young woman, Marlow is a media sensation. She lives in a closed California village and has lived her entire life (or most of it) with cameras filming her every moment of her life. Her every action driven by a need to keep her follower count high. Just as she's about to make the biggest decision of her life, she learns something shocking about her own past that sends her into a tailspin and onto a quest for answers.
Angelo has a sure hand and her experience writing in other formats (online and for print publications) is evident in the confident story she has constructed. And while I thought at the very end she missed a bit, the books is an engrossing, all too real, study of just what "fame" and having "followers" can mean.