Follow Me Back, by A.V. Geiger

I had just finished a book, and I had almost a week before another highly anticipated book was going to be released, so I wanted something I could easily read in the interim. Rather than search for something new, I searched through the backlog on my Kindle. Somewhere along the way, I downloaded this book, which had been on my to-read list, and probably was on sale at some point or another.

I was intrigued that the author had posted an earlier version of this story at Wattpad first. As a self-published author, I find the story of this book getting published truly inspiring, and I wish A.V. Geiger all sorts of good fortune because there’s a solid and timely premise within Follow Me Back—a novel about two older teens trapped within their individual and very different lives.

First, there’s Tessa Hart. She was supposed to be starting college, but due to an incident—which I won’t spoil—she suffers from severe anxiety and agoraphobia. Instead of interacting with others out in the real world, she interacts online, particularly via Twitter, where she’s an avid follower of teen singing sensation Eric Thorn.

Though Eric loves making and performing his music, he’s not a fan of the publicity stunts he’s forced to endure for his fans, and he’s definitely not happy with the way he perceives his fans being more interested in his looks (super sculpted abs, apparently) than in his music. With no way in reality for Eric to escape the demands of his contract, he creates a fake Twitter account where he can engage in some Eric-Thorn-bashing.

And that’s how the two of them start communicating, although Tessa has no idea it’s actually Eric on the other end. Given the multiple fandoms that occur online, and the number of people who create multiple accounts for different purposes including hiding their identities, I find the setup plausible. There are appropriate references to internet stalking and catfishing (leading someone on with a false identity and then vanishing) as the drama escalated within their relationship and their individual lives.

This was a quick read. The third-person narration bounces back and forth between Tessa and Eric, which makes sense since they aren’t physically interacting in the same space. It’s a decent structure, but what worked even more for me were the interludes consisting of fragments of police investigation transcripts dated New Year’s Eve—separate interviews with Tessa and Eric. Something happened that night, and waiting to find out what as the pieces are slowly revealed definitely help propel the reader forward through the book.

I don’t suffer from the anxiety and PTSD that Tessa does, and I’m no rock star, but I found their characters relatable. Their narration does get repetitive at times, as we are often told instead of shown what their motivations for being in their online relationship are. I guess it would be challenging to show much when they’re both alone inside their worlds, but I wished for a little more.

However, none of the other characters were particularly deep. Tessa has a boyfriend who’s a jerk. Eric has a manager who’s somewhat controlling and smarmy. Tessa’s mother is practically non-existent and not supportive of all of what Tessa has been through or is going through. Eric’s other fans, including some that Tessa tweets with, are mere facades, which makes sense given the theme of online personas and anonymity. And then there’s Tessa’s therapist, who I have difficulty believing because of a choice she makes late in the book.

But more problematic for me is the ending—and I mean the ending and not the resolution. I thought the reveal of the police investigation was well resolved, but the final events that occur in the book…well, they just baffle me. It felt so out of left field. If the ending is meant to make the reader question what happened to entice reading the upcoming sequel, I’m still not sure if I buy it.

And so I’m torn. The story’s premise and structure were a lot of fun to follow, but due to too much telling and an unforeshadowed ending, I’m debating whether I’ll be back for the sequel. Until then, Follow Me Back gets THREE AND A HALF STARS.

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Follow Me Back is available at Amazon.

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