*I was given a copy of Influential in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Faber and Faber and Amara Sage*
Almond Brown has no friends in real life . . . but 3.5 million followers online. A heartfelt, whip-smart deep dive into what it would really be like to be internet famous at 17: a cautionary tale for our time from a writer who has grown up with social media.
Almond is forced into the spotlight when she was just a perfectly filtered bump: her mum has been documenting their family through social media since before she was born. And her family enjoy all the rewards that come from that level of influence. Only, it’s not the life Almond would have chosen for herself, and being on a platform all the time has made her anxious and insecure. When the darkest side of the internet begins to haunt her, Almond feels like she’s going to lose everything . . . If only she could see that she has a real-life, too, full of friends and family who love her, and that it could save her.
CW: substance abuse, threats of sexual assault, racism, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks/disorder
Influential surprised me if I’m honest. I didn’t expect to enjoy it quite as much as I did. From the get-go, the writing style really suited me and it made for such a quick yet fun read. There was a lot of drama, but it was the type that leads you to say ‘just one more chapter’ and then continue to read for another hour.
I always find books about influencers so interesting. It’s a world I’m almost completely isolated from as I don’t use social media very much, so everything about it is a bit of a novelty.
This is the first one I’ve read where the influencer the book is about hates what they do. I really feel for Almond throughout the whole of the book, she didn’t get a say in whether or not she wants to be an influencer and because it’s her mom she can’t really say no. Well, she can because everyone has a choice but it’s different when it’s your parents wanting you to do something.
I honestly kept forgetting that Influential was set in the UK because it really didn’t feel British to me. The book felt very American, especially as the author kept using Americanisms for a lot of words. British people don’t tend to use ‘yard’. Not that this is a huge issue though, it doesn’t really matter where it’s set.
The number of complex characters in Influential was actually very impressive. I loved Almond’s friend group because they were all very interesting in their own ways. Heather in particular was my favourite as from day one she had Almond’s back and she was such a good friend.
The diversity in this book was also very well done. Not every character was white, hetero and slim which is often what happens in most YA books. Big props to Amara Sage for creating a cast of characters that were very diverse, but didn’t feel forced.
Influential, was such an interesting read that tackled a lot of problems we currently face in a social media lead world. An area I found particularly interesting was Almond almost resenting her mother for posting her online as a child without her consent. This is something I often think about when influencers post their children online, most do so with good intentions – like Almond’s mom – but it can cause future harm.
The whole social media world and its problems were explored very well throughout and it was great to see a different side to an influencer’s story.
I’d definitely recommend Influential if you are looking for a quick read that while fun at times, deals with social issues. There are a lot of content/trigger warnings for this book so I would definitely check those out before picking this up. However, a lot of them are just implied and never come to fruition. It’s always best to be sure though, stay safe!
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