Genre: Sourcebooks Fire
Publisher: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller
Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…
Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.
When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…
Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.
Follow Me Back is a Young Adult Contemporary Thriller, which may seem like an odd jumble of genres, however it works on every level. Follow Me Back is told from two perspectives, Tessa, who suffers from agoraphobia, and Eric, a pop star. Tessa is obsessed with Eric because she identifies some fear and anxiety present within him. Eric is obsessing over his safety after a rabid fan killed a fellow pop star. Eric is incredibly unhappy with his current lifestyle, so he takes it upon himself to create a fake Twitter account to try to dissuade people from liking him. During his efforts he connects with Tessa’s newly popular account and they strike up an unlikely conversation that continues far beyond what he expected.
I absolutely LOVED Follow Me Back because of what it offers its readers. It gives a credible and highly relevant romance, considering how many couples meet online, a thrilling mystery, an action packed conclusion, and, most importantly, a realistic portrayal of various mental illnesses and the role the Internet can play.
Whenever people speak about the Internet the inevitable conversation of anonymity and its dangers surfaces. It’s easy to pretend to be someone else on the Internet, but there are multiple reasons for pretending to be someone else. Whether it be to escape, role-play, or for something nefarious the option is always available. But you can also use the Internet to be yourself. To be the you that you hide in public or at home. Both Tessa and Eric use anonymity to escape their realities. Tessa uses it as a tool to engage with others in a safe environment and Eric uses it as a mechanism to escape his stressful and demanding life.
Social media allows us to connect with people we wouldn’t have otherwise connected with. It allows us to make friends, have debates, and connect with cultures we do not have access to. It also allows us to connect with celebrities/famous people who we would never have the opportunity to engage with. A simple like or retweet from someone famous can make someone’s day or the absence of that like or retweet can break someone’s day. Some may roll their eyes and accuse them of being pathetic. I would have counted myself among those had I not taken the time to think about my own presence on social media. I’ve found myself guilty of getting excited when an author or publisher likes or retweets me. This dynamic plays an important role in Eric’s life. Absently liking or retweeting something of a fan’s inevitably opens the door to the potential for further communication. However, when that door remains open but nothing continues things can quickly turn violent. Since our phones are always with us it means, by extension, that our social media account are as well. This is a fact of our lives now, so it’s easy to get lost or misunderstand someone’s online actions. This is exactly what happens to Eric and makes him grow more and more anxious.
Agoraphobia and anxiety are at the forefront of this novel. Tessa’s fear of leaving her bedroom causes her life to shift in a very different way. She becomes her online presence much more since it’s one of the only ways she’s able to forge connections with other people. Eric’s anxiety over his personal safety causes him insomnia and irritability. Geiger presents these mental illnesses in an unapologetic way. They aren’t used as plot devices and both characters work through their issues as best they can. The characters ring authentic and genuine, so I wasn’t surprised to read that Geiger studies women’s psychiatric health.
Overall, I really enjoyed Follow Me Back. It made me think about the role of social media in our daily lives and how it can affect the way with interact and think about others. It’s also interesting to think about the negative or positive role social media can have on our various coping mechanism. Social media cannot be classified as either a positive or negative because of its very polarizing effects and Follow Me Back is a perfect example of that effect.