Title: Internet Famous
Author: Danika Stone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
My Rating: 4 out of 5
High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.
Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included. (via Goodreads).
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I thought the Nakama household’s family dynamic was interesting. Madi’s parents were mostly inattentive in the beginning of the book and, at that point, it seemed like the only one trying to keep everything running smoothly in the household was Madi, especially when it came to Sarah’s needs. I couldn’t really understand how their mother could be so selfish and irresponsible and just abandon her family like that; she was probably my least favorite of them. I do appreciate the fact that their parents had semi-active roles in the story rather than just being mentioned in the beginning then suddenly being forgotten entirely and never seen again. Madi and Sarah were my favorite characters among their family because I loved seeing how their sisterly relationship changed and grew throughout the story. Like Madi, I’m really close to my younger sister as well and can be very protective. It was heartwarming to see how far they had come from the beginning of the book to the end; how, no matter their conflicts and occasional frustrations, their closeness and bond remained the same and as strong as ever.
I liked Madi and found that I could really relate to her for several reasons. Firstly, she’s a blogger like me! While I was reading this book I also happened to do a re-watch of a show, live tweeted it, then did a blog post about it – just like Madi does for her blog, MadLibs. I couldn’t help but find the similarity amusing, especially since it was completely unintentional. Fortunately, I don’t get a million hits per post because I don’t think I could handle being “Internet Famous” like she is. Haha Secondly, she is immersed in fandoms and social media, just like me and many other young people in our society. I have only begun to read stories that involve fandoms and I’m gradually realizing that they hold a soft spot in my heart because, being a self-proclaimed fangirl since birth and fangirl blogger, I can relate to it so much. Like Madi, I can’t imagine myself ever not being involved with social media and fandoms. After all, it’s a fangirl’s life for me! 😉
I am also way better with online and written communication than I am with face-to-face interactions because I can be so awkward and get anxious around new people, so I completely understood Madi’s apprehension and anxiety. She is also very insecure about herself, which I not only found relatable but realistic of a girl her age. Even though Laurent constantly tells her otherwise and showers her with reassurances, Madi still doubts her self-worth and keeps wondering why Laurent is even interested in her. To her, Laurent is “perfect” while she is just a “huge nerd”, as if that was reason enough for their relationship to not make sense.
The romance between Madi and Laurent was so sweet and, at times, hilariously awkward, especially during their first video-chat session. The little snippets of texting conversations, tumblr reblogging, tweets, and Snapchat photos were adorable and refreshing to see. Their virtual dates were so cute, I had to stop and fangirl a bit (why can’t guys in real life be that sweet and apologetically romantic?!). I also feel that the photos also brings more life to the characters and helped tell the love story between Madi and Laurent because they first met through social media after all. There were moments when I felt as if Laurent was too perfect, however, and some of his dialogue seemed unrealistic for a teenage boy. Then again, I’ve never met French teenage boys so maybe the difference in cultures has something to do with that? I will admit that it is refreshing to see a guy be completely honest with his emotions, not embarrassed to be romantic, and unencumbered with the need to look “cool”. And can I just mention real quick and without spoilers that the ending was the. cutest. thing. ever!
I couldn’t really guess who the troll was right away, probably not until I was halfway or past halfway through the book, but when it was finally revealed I literally whisper-shouted (because my sister was asleep), “I knew iiiittt!! I knew it was you!!”). The mystery behind the true identity of the troll harassing Madi gave a nice flavor of suspense to the story, but I do feel like a lot of drama could have been avoided if she had just taken her own advice and ignored it. It was frustrating to see her always get riled up by something the troll posted (he’s just wants a reaction from you, girl), do what she precisely warned Laurent not to do (reply and provoke him further), then freak out over the escalating angry messages that always followed. I wondered if she even heard herself when she said that to Laurent or simply allowed her temper to get the best of her and she just forgot her own advice. Who knows. This situation, however, seemed believable because not every kid or teenager out there is going to know how to react to or deal with a cyberbully. No one should have to, but it does happen, so I’m glad this book perfectly and realistically displays and identifies cyberbullying; how it can start and then get progressively worse until it becomes not only unsettling, but downright terrifying.
I like Danika’s writing style and how she wrote Madi’s voice. It’s light and simple but engaging, and the change from prose to Madi’s blog posts really added to the realism of her character. There were very few, minor mistakes, but I recall one particular instance where the point of view suddenly switched from Madi to Laurent in the middle of the scene. It was confusing and jarred me out of the flow of the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading “Internet Famous”. As per usual, I was drawn to it mainly because of the lovely cover, but the story itself is why I enjoyed this book so much to give it 4 stars. It’s a really cute, heartwarming, and fluffy contemporary (perfect for summer!) about first love, family, friendship, and fandoms. But it also addresses an important issue prevalent in today’s society, especially among the youth: cyberbullying, and does so in a realistic and honest way. It’s perfect for anyone involved in fandoms and/or blogging, or any form of social media, really. Or if you’re just a fan of sweet YA contemporaries like I am. 😉