Megan Angelo in her Grand Debut
Fame is one of those topics which will surely be up for discussion so long as our species exists. It’s something many people chase in hopes of finding some sort of fulfillment, and over the course of our history we’ve never had a shortage of great stories or legends about the many remarkable people who came before us. Megan Angelo has decided to make this topic the main focus of her first ever published novel, simply titled Followers.
The novel tells us two stories, the first one taking place in the present day, introducing us to Orla Cadden, a potential novelist who is unfortunately stuck in a dead-end job writing clickbait articles. One day, she meets Floss, herself striving for fame as an A-lister, and with a great plan to get them both to the top.
However, as the ascent on the mountain of fame becomes increasingly perilous, so do their methods become darker and shadier… and thus the question arises: how far can they possibly go in the name of the bright lights?
The second story takes us thirty-five years into the future, in a small Californian village where government-appointed celebrities live out their lives under the constant scrutiny of cameras. One of those celebrities, a woman named Marlow, discovers a terrible truth about herself: her family history is nothing but a collection of lies.
With the illusion slowly peeling away, she decides it’s time to take all the risks necessary and venture out there in search of the truth, regardless of how much it might hurt.
The Flow of Two Narratives in Followers
Right off the bat, I have to say this novel is definitely on the ambitious side for an author’s first effort, exploring a complex modern topic through two separate narratives taking place in different times.
In other words, there are more than enough opportunities to make missteps and mistakes, but other than a couple of passages here and there, I think Megan Angelo nailed the flow and technical quality of the story as well as anyone could.
This is one of those novels with this peculiar quality of drawing the reader in so deep after the first few pages, we start getting the impression we’re actually observing the story ourselves, rather than reading about it.
In my mind, this might be one of the more important elements to any novel with ambitions of complexity; if as the reader I cannot get deeply into it, I will have a hard time truly caring about any of the characters or plot points. As a matter of fact, once the hooks were sunk in the tempo of both narratives begins to pick up, and I can hardly think of a moment I could describe as unnecessary and uneventful.
I generally enjoy structures with multiple narratives, and Angelo pulled it off rather well in Followers, consistently alternating between the present and the future, always ensuring things are moving about and we, the readers, don’t get too bored with any particular aspect.
Even if the two stories are linked more thematically than anything else, they still bounce off each other fairly well and it felt to me like the “future” plot line was an attempt at seeing the logical extension of the “present” plot line. All in all, the two narratives felt like they had a symbiotic relationship, not something every author is capable of pulling off.
A Meditation on Social Media
There are definitely many developments, twists and turns which keep the novel moving forward, but in the end it all felt like it was written with a singular purpose in mind: to meditate on the current and potential future state of social media.
Now, I would like to make one thing clear: Megan Angelo isn’t a doomsayer nor does she pretend to be able to actually predict the future thirty-five years from now, especially not for something as volatile and subject to change as social media.
Instead, she presents her observation and interpretation of how the modern world is affected by social media, and then attempts to extrapolate them into one of infinite possibilities for the future of mankind. Does everything make perfect sense and is likely to occur? Of course not, and I don’t think the author should be taking any blame for this.
She makes some rather interesting arguments for the extreme scenarios we might be headed to if current trends keep on going; in the end, it’s food for thought made entertaining through a novel format.
If there is one somewhat negative aspect which stuck out to me, it’s the impression I sometimes had of the author being not as familiar with modern technology as some of her contemporaries.
There are a few instances where questionable decisions are made to have characters use what are now antiquated methods (such as pen and paper), when they could have been made to use modern technology, which would have even gone further in supporting the theme of the book.
Nevertheless, these moments didn’t bother me in the slightest and I was able to overlook them as slight missteps which were swept to the side by the rest of what the book had to offer.
The Final Verdict
Followers by Megan Angelo is an excellent first novel by the new author on the scene, combining two entertaining narratives with interesting ideas and meditations on fame, social media, and their potential developments in the future.
If you enjoy novels which look at the darker side of fame and modern technology, then I highly recommend you give this novel a shot.
Megan Angelo is an American author native of Quakertown, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Villanova University.
She began her career by writing for various publications including The New York Times on various subjects ranging from television and films to pop culture and motherhood.
Her first novel was published on November 10th, 2020, simply titled Followers: A Novel.