#famous | Jilly Gagnon
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
“In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?
Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.”
#famous is basically a retelling of the Alex from Target fiasco that happened a few years back. The premise is simple: A girl named Rachel takes a picture of her handsome crush, Kyle, while he is working at a burger stand in the mall. She sends the picture to her friend on a fantastical version of Twitter (hilariously called Flit) and her “flit” ends up becoming less a personal joke between best friends and more a cultural phenomena among teens.
It’s a situation that has become all too familiar these days, and so the story is one that makes sense (to millenials, at least) from beginning to end, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. I thought the concept was carried out well in that it highlights how out of hand these insta-famous moments in history can get and how they infect and affect our lives and the lives of those who find themselves overnight celebrities.
I appreciated how the author touched on the topic of cyber-bullying and bullying in a school setting. It’s an important topic to discuss and the author does a good job in inciting conversation among the characters about these issues. But the mean girl trope does get overused to the point where one character’s motivations and actions contradict too often and another character’s mean girl behavior garners absolutely no explanation despite her extreme mistreatment and hostility towards Rachel.
My biggest issue with the story, though, stems from the main characters. Rachel is supposed to be a quirky character that has a different way of looking at the world as well as an odd writing sense. However, these traits were never fully developed and so, Rachel became too generic and somewhat forgettable as a protagonist.
As for Kyle, his chapters were kind of unpleasant to read because of his inability to see the obvious, his lack of empathy, and worst of all, his way of speaking. The author repeatedly uses the sound “oof” to show emotional impact, but Kyle just comes off as insensitive and false because of it (i.e. “I did that. Oof”). Also, there was an astounding over-usage of colons in Kyle’s speech/thoughts to separate two sentences, the second being an explanatory comment or illustration (i.e. Moms: what can you do about them?). Both these elements were used in excess and as a result, it was hard to find Kyle a likable character. And because of this, I was not convinced of his and Rachel’s budding romance.
It’s a cute book that introduces some very important topics surrounding fame, social media, and human behavior. But it wasn’t much more than that for me.