Author: Alice Oseman
Published May 3, 2018 by HarperCollins
Genre: YA contemporary
Date finished: May 24, 2018
For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.
Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.
My thoughts (spoiler free)
After I read Radio Silence last month, I immediately needed to read everything that Alice Oseman has ever written, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.
I loved this book. This review is going to be a lot of gushing, just to warn you. I have so many thoughts and feelings, we’ll see if I can express them all without exploding or anything like that.
Angel and Jimmy are the two central characters here. We get alternating POV chapters (which seems to be a trend in the books I’ve been reading lately…)
Fereshteh “Angel” Rahimi is a fangirl – and sometimes she feels like that’s all she is. She isn’t brilliant in school or many other aspects of her life, but that’s okay because at least she has The Ark, her boyband obsession. When I first read the description of this book, I was a little unsure, because I’ve never been obsessed with a band. But I’ve been obsessed with plenty of other things (why else would I start a blog?), and Alice Oseman perfectly captures what it’s like to feel like you’re entire world centers around that one thing. I know exactly that feeling of “nothing else matters to me right now, the rest of my life can figure itself out eventually, but this is the only important thing in the world in this moment.” And yeah, it’s definitely not healthy, but it’s something that Angel experiences something that I’ve experienced, and plenty of other people as well.
And Angel is just such a wonderful and lovable character. Even though her chapters were arguably less eventful than Jimmy’s, I loved reading them anyways because she has such a great voice and she’s so relatable to teenage me. Her development throughout the novel, realizing that her love for The Ark was a bit selfish and self-serving and caused her to overlook other important things and people in her life, was just perfect.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci, the other central character, is one of the members of the band that Angel loves. While he loves the music and his fellow band members, the constant pressure and attention from fans has been wearing him down, making him feel like he’s not a real person. It’s all becoming too much for him until he wonders if he should even be in the band anymore. Jimmy’s anxiety and paranoia was definitely hard to read about, but it felt so real. I can’t even imagine having that kind of attention on me all the time. At first, Jimmy feels like nothing good has ever come out of him being in The Ark, but eventually he learns that he is able to reach people in a way that few can. Through this, we’re able to see both the good and the bad of fandom and celebrity, showing the complexity. Jimmy and Angel are such different characters, and experience the world in different ways, but I just loved them both.
I also really appreciated that both the main characters are religious! Angel is Muslim and Jimmy is Christian. Though these aspects are important to their characters, and they’re both shown praying and talking about their faith, their religion isn’t a major plot point or anything. It’s just part of who they are. Also, Jimmy is trans and gay, and you don’t see many religious LGBT+ characters out there! Alice Oseman is really good at casually adding diversity in all her characters.
Speaking of which, we’ve got a whole cast of other characters along with Angel and Jimmy! Rowan and Lister are the other members of The Ark, practically Jimmy’s brothers. Rowan is the responsible one, kind of the dad of the group, always looking after the other two, while Lister has a reputation of a partier, though there’s a lot more to him than that. We also have Juliet, Angel’s internet best friend who she meets in person for the first time, and Mac, who’s just the worst. And Bliss, who ends up being a sort of bridge between the two worlds. I want to protect all of these children.
This is very much a character driven story. There’s a clear plot, but the more important aspect is how the characters are developing and interacting. I did like how the alternating perspectives worked – the chapters were long enough that I was able to get fully into each character’s head before it switched again, and both storylines were interesting. The plot certainly went places that I wasn’t expecting! But hey, that’s a good thing.
I loved the writing style – it felt like we were very much inside the characters’ heads. We see everything through their eyes, which colors how we perceive and react to it. For Angel, fandom is supportive and amazing, full of people she relates to and loves; for Jimmy, fandom is terrifying and unknown, full of people who pretend to love him and want to know all the intimate details of his life. Both sides are valid, and we get to see both of them through the different perspectives.
And something about the writing style reminds me so much of how I think. All the internal stuff felt so real, which went along with everything else in the book that felt incredibly honest and perfect.
In case it wasn’t already obvious, I loved this book. It felt like the perfect examination of how fandom impacts people, showing multiple sides of the picture, and talking about both the good and the bad. I related to it so hard, not only because of my own fandom experiences, but because that’s just how Alice Oseman writes. All of her characters are lovely and well-rounded, her writing is incredible, and the story itself kept me interested the entire time. While Radio Silence is still my favorite of her books, this one is still easily one of my new fave YA contemporaries. Now I just gotta read Solitaire!
“In an otherwise mediocre existence, we choose to feel passion.”