First Three Star Books of 2021

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Art of Falling in exchange for an honest review.

The news about the attempted coup at Capitol Hill left me a bit emotionally exhausted. I didn’t finish any books that week so of course I had nothing to post.

This week, I managed to finish two books, Followers by Megan Angelo, and The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin. Both were worlds apart, but ended up being three star books for very different reasons.

So, let’s start with Followers, a 2020 release I really wanted to read since I do appreciate a good story with social media themes. Followers alternates from the “present” with Orla Cadden in 2016, and Marlow, the first of a new kind of influencer in 2051.

Orla is an aspiring novelist and and gossip blogger, her roommate and soon to be partner-in-crime Floss, is desperate to become famous, so much, she’s willing to push her real talents to the side in favor for antics that she hopes will turn her into a hashtag. The two girls hatch a plan to get to their end goals no matter how ruthless, or damaging their approach is.

In 2051, we’re introduced to Marlow, a government sanctioned social media star with little say over her life. She has cameras on her 24/7 which is pretty wild to me because even the most interesting people alive are not worth watching at 3 am on a Sunday. Marlow is unhappy with her life. Or, maybe she’s happy with it? She’s lacked so much control, she actually doesn’t know. But when an opportunity to change that presents itself, she takes it.

In the Art of Falling, Nessa is grappling with the infidelity of her marriage. Unfortunately, this coincides with the opportunity of a lifetime at her job. She’s spearheading an exhibition for the renowned, late sculptor Robert Locke.

When things don’t seem to get worse, they do. A mysterious strange woman enters her life, making seemingly outlandish claims about one of Locke’s greatest work. Her behavior escalates from pestering to borderline threatening around the same time a secret for Nessa’s past comes to light.

One thing these novels have in common is that both authors wrote a very engrossing tale filled with complete characters and immersive worlds.

Followers however, did a better job at holding my attention. It was an instant page turner, and if time was on my side, I could have easily finished it in a day or two instead of the nearly two weeks it took for me to read it. The Art of Falling was an incredibly slow burn and for a while, and I almost gave up on it at least 2x.

Where Followers failed me was with the anti climatic reveal of the events that resulted in the government sanctioned social media. For all the drastic changes in 2051, I expected a more major event to trigger them. But then again, the government never needed a good reason to drastically mess up the lives of the people they govern. Art imitating life.

Speaking of art, The Art of Falling, had a fairly eventful ending. Nothing unexpected, but still interesting and appropriate for the story McLaughlin told.

Although these books did not meet the standard set this year by Black Buck, they both took me somewhere outside of the fucked up world we are living in and honestly, that’s enough for me.

If you’ve read these books and have similar, or different opinions, I would love to know your thoughts.

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