Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.
Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.
But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private. (Goodreads)
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Rating: 4 stars
I'm one of those people that detests divulging personal information in public to strangers, let alone online. It makes me cringe when people freely give away their addresses, or phone numbers, or home towns, because you really do not know who is on the other side of that screen (am I paranoid? absolutely So, thank you, Kathleen Barber, for proving my point.
Follow Me is, in its most basic form, the story about a self-absorbed young woman (most of the time at the detriment of others) obsessed with portraying the perfect life and the perfect image of herself. Audrey is one of the most unpleasant people that I have come across in fiction. She is so unpleasant as a matter of fact, that despite coming close to not only dying, but to being murdered, I could not feel a single shred of empathy for her. Audrey uses any moment in her life to show off on Instagram so that her million+ followers love and fan over her, and it makes her feel fulfilled, accomplished.
It's so spot on where it concerns these types of platforms and many who use/join them.
Our lead's oversharing attracts a “fan” that has been addicted to her life for years before finding out that she's moving to the same city in which he lives. “Him” (as said fan is referred to for most of the book) made me so vividly reminiscent of You. But I found “Him” more likable than Joe, which is interesting, because the attraction is just as psychopathic. And yet there's something about “Him,” once you realize who he is and witness him in scenes with Audrey, that's warm and sweet and real. Because it is real to him, he loves this woman, as unhealthy as his love for her is.
Except for, you know, that little switch that gets easily flipped and turns “Him” into pure unadulterated malice.
The characters, even the secondary ones like Connor and her creepy upstairs neighbor, were nicely developed even if they did not play a huge role in the story. They were still unique and and their own individuals. They were fun “distractions” from the real culprit, just as obsessed with Audrey as many others.
And that's one thing that did nag at me: this attraction that absolutely everyone seemed to feel toward Audrey, be it male or female. I understand that we are reading about someone who is supposed to have a magnetic persona, which is part of what makes her so popular on Instagram. But it was overly done. No one is so perfect, even if it is faked, that everyone believes in their own myth and hangs on their every word and action, eager for more.
It didn't detract, it was a minor nitpicking point, and things flowed smoothly despite this. While I wouldn't say that novel is fast paced, the nearly teasing way in which the details unfold is extremely satisfying. There are no questions left unanswered, and the sense of impending doom that begin to build up from the moment that Audrey realizes she's being stalked, until the end, come to a very satisfying conclusion.
And how typical of our lead, really, that even after a near-death experience at the hands of her stalker—and her best friend—the first thing that she does, and our last closing scene in the novel is her eagerly sharing something as insignificant in the grand scheme of things as a sunset from the window of her new private home.
Some people just never learn.