Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books
Date of publication: October 31st, 2023
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Mystery, Fiction, Contemporary, Suspense, Crime, Social Media, Action
en teen influencers come to a remote island to star in a reality show, but when one of them winds up dead, they realize that this time, the price of being “cancelled” could be their lives.
A reality show on a remote Caribbean island. Ten teen influencers. One dead body.
Welcome to “In Real Life,” the hot new reality show that forces social media’s reigning kings and queens to unplug for three weeks and “go live” without any filters. IRL is supposed to be the opportunity of a lifetime, watched closely by legions of loyal followers. But for these rising stars–including Elody, an Instagram model with an impulsive streak; Kira, a child star turned fitness influencer; Logan, a disgraced TikTok celeb with a secret; and Max, a YouTuber famous for exposés on his fellow creators—it’s about to turn into a nightmare.
When the production crew fails to show up and one of their own meets a violent end, these nine little influencers find themselves stranded with a dead body and no way to reach the outside world. When they start receiving messages from a mysterious Sponsor threatening to expose their darkest secrets, they realize that they’ve been lured into a deadly game…and one of them might be pulling the strings.
With the body count rising and cameras tracking their every move, the creators must figure out who is trying to get them canceled—like, literally—before their #1 follower strikes again.
It’s a view you could kill for.People to Follow by Olivia Worley
Important things you need to know about the book:
Pace: The pacing of People to Follow was fast-paced. The storyline occurs within a few days of everyone arriving on the island. The pacing of the storyline suited the book. There was a little lag towards the end (when the author revealed everything and why), but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.
Trigger/Content Warning: There are trigger and content warnings in People to Follow. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:
- Death (Graphic)
- Murder (Graphic)
- Alcohol (Moderate to Graphic)
- Gun Violence (Graphic)
- Blood (Moderate to Graphic)
- Grooming (Moderate)
- Adult/Minor Relationship (Moderate)
- Bullying (Graphic)
- Sexual Assualt (Moderate)
- Panic Attacks (Moderate to Graphic)
- Sexual Violence (Moderate)
- Violence (Graphic)
- Grief (Graphic)
- Death of a Parent (Graphic)
- Sexual Harassment (Moderate)
- Gaslighting (Moderate)
- Confinement (Moderate)
- Stalking (Graphic)
- Classism (Moderate)
- Body Shaming (Minor)
- Eating Disorder (Minor)
- Toxic Friendship (Moderate)
- Slut Shaming (Moderate)
Sexual Content: There is no graphic sexual content in People to Follow. But there are insinuations about relationships between the characters. I took that as they had slept together. There is also a brief mention of a naked girl’s photograph being shared in a text between a group of boys (with the girl’s head not shown).
Language: There is graphic swearing in People to Follow.
Setting: People to Follow is set on a fictional island in the Caribbean.
Tropes: The Unlikable Victim, The Red Herring, Close Quarters, Outsmarting the Criminal, The Dramatic Reveal, Twist Ending
Age Range: I recommend People to Follow to anyone over 21.
Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):
When the producer of a new reality TV show contacts ten teen influencers, they are all thrilled. This show is a way for some to rebrand. For others, it is a way of gaining more followers. For one, it is a way to get revenge on the nine people who wronged them, even if that means murder. When people start dying, and secrets are revealed, it is up to the survivors to figure out which one of them is a killer.
Kira Lyons—Out of all the characters in this book, I liked her the most. When things started to go sideways, Kira didn’t panic that much. She actively looked for who the Sponsor/killer was and, later, a phone so they could call for help.
Max Overly—I liked him. Even after the Sponsor revealed his secret, I thought his character was interesting. He genuinely felt bad about everything that had happened when he was fifteen, and, like Kira, he actively tried to find out who the Sponsor/killer was.
Logan Costello—I will admit this, but I had her pegged as the killer/the Sponsor for most of the book. But I was shocked when two secrets were revealed. One, there were hints dropped throughout the storyline until it was revealed. But the other one surprised me. Still, it didn’t make her any less of a suspect. That is until the end, when everything went sideways.
Corrine Lecompte—I didn’t have an opinion about her, but I did have her pegged as at least an accomplice. I wasn’t surprised with what she confessed, but I was surprised at who was mentioned during that conversation. It made me eye her as a possible killer, too.
Aaron Tyler Banks—I didn’t like him, but I did pity him. He had fallen from grace and sought a way to return to the influencer/streaming/acting world. His secret didn’t surprise me. It made me sad for him.
McKayleigh Hill—I did not like her. She was everything that I disliked as an influencer. She was fake, shallow, and catty. I wasn’t surprised at all by what was revealed. But, I was surprised by her role in another secret.
Zane Rivers—He was another one that I couldn’t stand. Something about him rubbed me wrong after the author introduced his character. I can’t say I was surprised by what the secret was. But I was surprised at his role with the secondary secret that he, Logan, McKayleigh, and Graham shared.
Graham West—Like Corrine, he was another one that I didn’t have an opinion of. He didn’t join in on McKayleigh or Zane’s torment of Logan. I also didn’t think his initial secret (and connection to Aaron) was as bad as the others. His role in the secret with Zane, McKayleigh, and Logan was bad, but you could tell he felt awful about it.
Elody Hart—I. Could. Not. Stand. Her. I saw she was fake as soon as she was introduced in the book (the babes gave it away). Like Graham, her secret wasn’t that bad (compared to the others). But what was revealed at the end and her connection to Max blew my mind.
Cole Bryan—I had no opinion of him either. He was obnoxious and rude. I wish I knew his secret because I am sure it was a small fish compared to what was revealed later in the book.
There is one main storyline in People to Follow. It follows the ten influencers and why they are on the island. Then, it morphs into a fight for survival when the Sponsor starts making their demands. This storyline was well-written, and I couldn’t put the book down. It was also a chaotic mess. I’m not too fond of books with more than one viewpoint. But in this case, it worked. The author would end one POV with just enough information or half of the information given about a person and then start the next chapter with that person’s POV.
Numerous secondary storylines are married to the main storyline. Some will not make sense initially, but a lightbulb will go off while reading, and you will understand why the author mentioned that storyline. All of the characters are intertwined in one way or another. Even characters that you think didn’t know each other are connected. It makes a massive spiderweb of storylines that can be difficult to separate.
The mystery angle of People to Follow was excellent. I didn’t figure out who the Sponsor and the killer were until almost the end of the book. And even then, I was only halfway right. The author had a massive twist in the plotline where the author revealed everything, and it was freaking wild. My mouth dropped because of not only who it was but because of why.
The thriller angle of the book was just as good as the mystery angle. The author used being confined to an island during a storm with no electricity to give an appropriate background and feel. The characters’ helplessness and horror over what is being done to them come off the pages.
The end of People to Follow was very anticlimactic, but it gave me chills. I can’t go much more into it, but I will say that the killer was not sorry.
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, NetGalley, and Olivia Worley for allowing me to read and review this ARC of People to Follow. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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