Is it too early to declare Megan Angelo’s debut one of the best novels of 2020? Maybe. Even so, it’s probably one of the funniest and most hopeful dystopian stories you’ll come across this year. Set in 2015 Manhattan and in a fictional community in 2051 California, Followers tells the story of three women who are all social media influencers and reality TV megastars of their time.
When Orla, a wannabe author who blogs about celebrity gossip, ends up with a roommate named Floss, a shameless fame chaser, they concoct a scheme to use the public’s collective obsession with famous people to their advantage. This is in 2015, when living without social media and smartphones is far more daunting for these young women than the seemingly unlikely concern of surviving without access to clean water.
But then comes the spill. Bringing back long-forgotten memories of Y2K hysteria, Angelo presents a future in which Apple and Instagram no longer exist. The internet as we know it is gone, but this advanced civilization nevertheless functions with self-driving cars, robots, networks and devices. Society is still obsessed with celebrity, and Floss’ daughter, Marlow, is its new star. Living in the government-created community of Constellation, where everyone is filmed 24/7 for the rest of the country’s viewing pleasure (and as a corporate marketing tool), Marlow begins to realize that maybe she has a choice—one that connects her back to Orla in the most surprising way.
Even if you aren’t a fan of science fiction or reality TV, Followers delivers a shrewd look at human relationships, habits and obsessions. Of all the doomsday scenarios out there, perhaps it won’t be too bad if this one comes true after all.