Hello all! Today I’m reviewing one of my most anticipated 2018 releases from one of my favourite authors and that is, of course, I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman. At this point everyone knows I LOVE Radio Silence with all my heart and it was one of my top 2017 reads, so I was beyond thrilled to receive this arc from the publisher (Thankyou HarperCollins!!)
I will be doing a usual review for this first half of this post, which will be spoiler free and then a GUSH underneath which will HAVE SPOILERS. I’ll let you know when we’re getting into the spoilery portion though. Lets get into it!
- my rating: 5 stars
- published by: HarperCollins Childrens
- genres: contemporary, lgbt+
- diversity: Iranian muslim questioning mc, biracial (indian/white) gay trans mc with anxiety, biracial chinese bisexual prominent side character, Nigerian prominent side character, bisexual prominent side character
For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.
Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.
I went into this book with really high expectations. I love Alice Oseman and Radio Silence is one of my favourite books. I worried she wouldn’t live up to my own hype but she ABSOLUTELY DID. It many ways I enjoyed this even more than Radio Silence. It was bazaar which is the Oseman I love, and it was relatable as heck, and super diverse. So all the good things.
But I think Oseman imbued this book with such a complexity and used her page time to discuss some really important themes without ever taking away from how enjoyable this book was. I read the whole thing in a few hours because it was BRILLIANT.
The characters were my favourite part of this which isn’t uncommon for an Oseman novel. The narration is shared between Angel and Jimmy. Angel Rahimi is a fangirl who loves a band called the Ark and has gone to meet and stay with her tumblr friend Juliet. Jimmy Kaga-Ricci is the lead guitarist of The Ark, which he formed with his best friends Rowan and Lister. He is struggling with the rise of the band and the pressures that have come with his growing fame which are exaggerated by the intense fandom.
I adored both Jimmy and Angel, and loved reading their POV’s so much. I think possibly Jimmy won me over a tiny bit more than Angel but I seriously still love love them both. The ways in which these characters lives intersect are really interesting, and I enjoyed the complicated dynamic between fan and celebrity. I really enjoyed the concept of people not being what they portray to the world, and the exploration of toxic fandom.
I also loved all the side characters. Rowan and Lister are the other members of the band and both had really well fleshed out arcs and personalities. I really enjoyed following both their stories, and especially Lister’s because of the bisexual rep.
Other characters include Bliss Lai – Rowan’s girlfriend and Mac, a friend of Juliet’s. Mac was probably the character I cared about least so I have little to say on him. I LOVED Bliss. She was interesting, cool, funny, and added such an important voice to the story.
This book has one of the most unusual plots ever, but I was SUPER into it. It is set over one week as the two main characters lives collide before and after the Ark’s London show. I think the plot could have easily been too convoluted but Oseman managed to condense it so there’s a lot of things happening, but it doesn’t feel like too much. While perhaps the ending felt a bit frenetic compared to the rest of the book, this didn’t make the book uncomfortable. It was exciting from beginning to end.
One thing I really liked was that Alice Oseman put work into worldbuilding, even though it was a contemporary. It made the entire book feel really realistic, I honestly forget the Ark aren’t a real band. It also gave this book so much polish.
I Was Born for This poses a question: what does a celebrity owe to their fandoms, and what do fans owe to their idols? And I think this book did such a good job at exploring that, especially through the complicated relationship between Angel and Jimmy.
Fandom and how it’s both good and bad is a major theme of this book and I think that both sides of this coin were shown really well. On one hand, Angel loves fandom. She has made lifelong friends, has been given a platform to use her voice, has passion for something and a safe space to explore her sexuality as someone who is questioning if they’re queer in some way.
On the other hand, Jimmy has been negatively affected by the intensity of the fandom and the misguided passion of fans. Fandom has negatively impacted his mental health, caused tension between his friend group and has effected his friends in negative ways too.
I think the discussion about the queer potion of fandom was my favourite part. Oseman perfectly nails the difference between what fandom IS, and how it gets portrayed in the media and things and I was just SO GLAD to read all that. You can tell Alice Oseman is an actual Young Person writing YA instead of an out of touch adult.
I also really enjoyed the emphasis on friendship and compassion in this book. All the characters relationships with eachother are very fleshed out and there’s a lot of importance placed on how friendships are just as, if not more, important than romantic relationships. This is a recurring Oseman theme and I was thrilled to see it again.
One issue I don’t think was dealt with very well was Lister’s past, and his current state. While it was kind of addressed in the end, I do think something more could have been said, ESPECIALLY about his past, because that revelation felt kind of throwaway.
But despite that little bump, I think Oseman did an excellent job as exploring themes and showing a nuanced look at fandom, which appealed to me a lot as someone who’s been heavily steeped in fandom for quite a few years now.
I want to quickly write something about this because I LOVED THE REPRESENTATION SO MUCH. So two major characters are bisexual on page – Lister from the band and Bliss, Rowan’s girlfriend.
Lister’s bisexuality was discussed a lot more than Bliss’ so I’ll mostly be focussing on his. I loved this representation so much. Lister is “the hot one” of the band and consequently, everyone thinks he’s having ALOT of sex. I really liked that oppurtunity was taken to call out the slutty bisexual trope, and how people correlating amount of sex had with bisexuality is completely wrong and unrelated.
“Well, newsflash, not all bisexuals are having sex every five minutes” was one of my favourite lines and the whole chapter it comes from (but read for YOURSELF no spoilers)
Bliss being a openly bi girl was also really nice, and I like that she was in a committed m/f relationship but this didn’t negate that she was definitely bisexual. Also, the rep and words being used often on the page is really great. I really loved the bi rep in this and I hope other people do too.
This has got to be one of my favourite books ever and I am SURE it’s going to make it into my favourites of 2018 list. I don’t know how Alice Oseman constantly DOES THIS TO ME. But I already want to reread this book. It’s just that good.
This book is fairly long for a contemporary (400 pages) but it absolutely flew by because it just drags you in and makes you fall in love with the characters and get all caught up in the drama and then you’re sucked in and can’t stop. It’s both similar and different to Radio Silence which is also something I LIKE about it.
These characters are so stuck in my heart, and this book is so pure and fun, whilst also dealing with serious topics and issues. I highly highly recommend.
GUSH SECTION – SPOILERS AHEAD !!!
Soooo oh my god this book is literally MY HEART and I’m fucking stoked that, if you’re reading this, this book has been published and THAT MEANS PEOPLE CAN TALK ABOUT IT WITH ME.
Okay but I fucking love all the characters I said that above but I LOVE THEMM. I need to protect them all. I was kind of disappointed no characters from Heartstopper/RS/Solitaire appeared but it’s okay. I cannot wait for the next Oseman book I hope the RS & IWBFT people can meet.
This entire book had me SHOOK but I genuinely think it dealt with so many things so well. Especially fandom, aaaaahhh. I definitely feel like lots of the Ark fandom was based off of the One Direction fandom in it’s heyday which is really cool because it was a hectic time and no one ever talks about it in YA even though I feel like it effected so many teens whether you like fandom or not? OKAY BUT ALSO I CAN’T GET OVER THE BRICK WHO THE FUCK DOES THAT.
JULIET AND ANGEL WERE SO CUTE. I loved that Juliet just wanted to be her friend and how they ended up so much closer at the end. I related so much to Angel’s anxiety about being in her home and doing and saying the wrong thing accidentally.
Okay, but the band all together was so fun and pure. I love them boys, and I loved any banter scene with them. Oh my god I literally cried/laughed at some things Lister said sjfhgjks
I ALSO LOVED JIMMY’S GRANDED AND HOW HE TOOK NO SHIT. That whole scene where people kept turning up at his house was hilarious and god gfjhsfj my heart was racing as everyone got to meet eachother.
Okay this review/GUSH is nearly 2000 words long so better wrap it up here but it’s JUST THAT GOOD OF A BOOK YOU FEEL ME. I cannot wait for her next book it’s gonna be AMAZING. PLEASE TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS BOOK IN THE COMMENTS.