Idol, Louise O’Neill – Book Review

This was the first I’ve read from this author, despite being intrigued by some of her previous releases. It won’t be my last. This book floored me – it’s an incredibly clever contemporary drama which explores a whole range of topical issues (I’ll get into that), but with the unputdownable pace of a thriller.

The cover may allude to it being a beach read, and it is that in a way – it’s an accessible, easy read – and yet it seamlessly weaves together sensitive and timely topics into a gripping narrative. There’s light and dark and all sorts of shades of grey. And I loved it.

Samantha Miller is a celebrity influencer with a series of best-selling memoirs under her belt and her own lifestyle brand. Her hoard of young, female fans love her and the fact that she’s completely honest about her own problematic past, and the ways she’s shaped her life for the better. Everything is going just peachy for Sam, until an allegation of sexual assualt arises from her childhood best friend.

From there, we move between present day and the late 90s/early 2000s as Sam travels back to her hometown to confront her best friend Lisa and her first boyfriend, Josh – who is now Lisa’s husband. She’s determined to nip this drama in the bud and win her friends back, but there’s much more to this than meets the surface.

A whole host of controversial topics are put into the spotlight in idol, but the themes that stood out for me are toxic friendships and memories. There’s a strange, slightly off-kilter feeling reading this as you gradually realise things might not be quite what they seem. Sam begins as a heroine, but becomes dislikeable as her obsessions become clearer to the reader.

A whole host of controversial topics are put into the spotlight in idol, but the themes that stood out for me are toxic friendships and memories. There’s a strange, slightly off-kilter feeling reading this as you gradually realise things might not be quite what they seem. Sam begins as a heroine, but becomes dislikeable as her obsessions become clearer to the reader. After all, the highest the pedestal, the further the fall. She’s created a persona for herself, built on a troubled past, but what really happened in that past? We all see our formative years through our own personal perspective, but it’s taken to another level in this book.

“Was this what it meant to be an adult, everyone reframing their childhood experiences to paint themselves as the victim?”

This is a story of obsession, fame and memory. It examines the power of social media, the #MeToo movement, woke culture and a whole lot more. There’s definitely triggers for sexual assault, drug abuse and disordered eating. But, it’s a great story – I had no idea where it was all going, but I couldn’t stop reading, and the twisty, dark, abrupt ending left me both in shock and wanting more.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 5/5.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Drama

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