Even though I ended up very disappointed in the PLL tv show, I have read pretty much everything Sara Shepard has written and genuinely enjoyed it. It’s like the thrillers that we adults love so much but with more teens and somehow even weirder drama. This new book by new and up-and-coming influencer (though she hates the word) Lilia Buckingham, has just that. I was initially a little skeptical of the collab (Buckingham is 16 and you know…in the world) but I was pleasantly surprised and think the book gave off peak Sara Shepard vibes but was well informed on the main aspect of the story: the absolute weird life of social media influencers–especially on Instagram and YouTube.
The world of Influence focuses on 3 girls: Delilah, an up and comer with a lot of innocence left; Jasmine, a JoJo Siwa type trying to get away from a rainbow brite image; Fiona, an influencer with some emotional baggage and a secret; and Scarlet, the A-list influencer queen that seems to be entangled in so many messes. Stolen ex-boyfriends, cloned iPhones, VIP events, photoshoots, all that jazz. There’s also a death, some ominious text messages, hidden secrets, a positive pregnancy test, and pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from a Sara Shepard novel. I loved it, to say the least.
I like multi-POV novels, and I loved only getting to see Scarlet through her video vlog transcripts–it really showed me a new facet of the world. Each girl had a distinct voice, and while I’m still not totally sure how they went from strangers to best friends or what the pregnancy plot-line really meant, I ultimately enjoyed the book, and maybe we’ll see another in the series…?