Sunday, October 24, 2021

People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd


The court of public opinion was not super kind to PEOPLE LIKE HER. A lot of popular bloggers really did not like this book, and after reading it and seeing how hard it comes down on influencer culture for being a vapid and pointless exercise that basically attracts the worst of the worst, I'm wondering if maybe it left a lot of people feeling attacked? There's definitely a "not all influencers" knee-jerk reaction that comes to mind when reading about the piece of work heroine, Emmy, who really is the WORST. But ultimately, that's what ended up making the book such a win with me. The dark humor, grim satire, and totally unlikable characters who nonetheless make the book feel real.

There are three narrators in this book. One is Emmy, a mommy blogger who goes under the name Mamabare, and is fake as all get out. Everything she says and does is content, done for the sake of driving traffic and making money. She's kind of sociopathic. Maybe she even is a sociopath. But she's good at what she does and is basically the queen of teflon spin.

The second narrator is her husband, Dan, a washed-up writer who is quietly resentful of his wife's success but nonetheless claims the moral high ground in his narration. He thinks the whole thing is ridiculous even though it's clear that he'd like to be the one in the limelight. He mostly plays the role of stay-at-home-dad/voice of reason, and the constant push and pull between him and Emmy is clearly leading to some strain.

The third and final narrator is a mysterious stalker who hates Emmy and wants revenge. It's not immediately clear what Emmy did to make this person so angry, but we learn their story through a gradual unspooling that is chilling and just as disturbing as I'd hoped it would be. The stalker drives the narrative tension and really adds a dark slant to the story, as Ellery Lloyd tackles a number of subjects, such as sexism in parenting, conspicuous consumption, bystander effect, and all sorts of other grim and not-so-cheery subjects, all with a slightly tongue-in-cheek tone that keeps it from being too grim.

This is a British book so I think whether you're going to enjoy this book depends on whether you like and understand British humor, which is subtler than a lot of American humor. I actually prefer it and watch a lot of British mysteries, which tend to feature these unlikable, hit-too-close-to-home sort of protagonists. If you don't like unlikable protagonists, you probably also won't enjoy this book. Personally I do, as long as they are the fun kind of unlikable, in the "love to hate them" sort of way, especially in thrillers where that dislike can remove the emotional stakes and make the book feel less intense.

I'm sad this book has such low ratings on Goodreads because I really enjoyed it. If you liked Janelle Brown's PRETTY THINGS or Katherine St. John's THE LION'S DEN, you'll probably enjoy this book! The ending was just *chef's kiss*.

4 out of 5 stars

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