Published: 6 June 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance
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.
Rating: 4 Stars
Danika Stone is one of the best authors I’ve come across in terms of contemporary writing, particularly when she’s writing about fans and fandom. Her previous book on the subject, All the Feels, was about what it felt like when a beloved character is killed off and what any one of us might do to try and bring them back.
In Internet Famous, we’re introduced to Madison “Madi” Nakama, an Internet famous blogger, who finds that she’s got a troll to deal with that could bring her online and real life personas crashing together, something she’s been extremely careful to prevent due to her father’s job as a conservative columnist for a local paper whose column is nationally syndicated and her previous experience with a troll that drove her out of a beloved fandom.
Not being an author or blogger of Madi’s status or any sort of famous, I wasn’t familiar with Madi’s tension regarding meeting her fans in real life, a scene that occurs early on when she and Laurent, the swoon worthy male lead of the book, going into NYC for a meet up of the MadLibbers (Madi’s fan name). The description of her nervousness, of seeing the people lining up to meet her and being unsure of how to handle it, made me wonder if that’s how authors feel when they’re at signings or conventions. It felt so realistic that it gave me a whole new respect for them, putting themselves out there to meet their fans.
The characters we spent the most time with (Madi, Laurent, Madi’s sister Sarah) were well fleshed out and I felt like these were real people that I could picture seeing in real life. Each had their own distinct identities, though I would’ve been interested in getting to know a bit more about Sarah’s interests because while we learned a lot about her in terms of how she affected Madi’s life, I didn’t get the biggest sense of who she was. It wasn’t her story, though, so I understand why that might’ve been.
Danika’s experience working with special needs students offered her the experience needed to write an authentic, I felt, portrayal of Sarah and her position on the spectrum and her family’s handling of trying to find a diagnosis. It was obvious that care went into writing Sarah.
There were two characters that I didn’t like in the novel, one of which was the reason that I rated this book 4 rather than 5 stars. The troll being the first horrible character: that character I found well written, hate filled as they were. While we do find out the identity of this person, even prior to that and the “explanation” of their behavior, it’s the portrayal of their actions that terrified me. Even after a stunt they pulled, such as filling Madi’s comment section with curse words and vitriol or calling her school and filing false claims, I was still filled with a sense of dread. Madi and Laurent might have been having a good time, but I still had that pit in my stomach that said the troll was there, waiting. What a creepy, sticking villain.
The second character I strongly disliked was Madi’s mother, Julia. She wasn’t present for most of the story and that was the problem. Early on, she leaves for a research position in Oxford, the second sort of assignment that’s taken her away from her family since learning of Sarah’s diagnosis and how they can manage it. What infuriated me about her was that she showed a complete lack of regard for what happens to Sarah when her schedule is disrupted, what kind of effect it has on Madi who has to step in and become something of a surrogate mother, and the worst part is, this is never resolved in the book. Julia does help Madi with her problem at school vs a mean spirited vice principal and says that she supports Madi not starting college right after graduation, but that didn’t feel like resolution. It felt like the issues of Julia abandoning the family, of not understanding how her actions affected her children, got glossed over.
Danika’s books always have something to offer me and I love her writing style: very easy to sink into, very easy to binge read. I finished Internet Famous over the course of a day and enjoyed it quite a bit, leaving me wondering when the next book will come my way.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.