Cover Image: Fake Accounts

Fake Accounts

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Member Reviews

Felix professes himself to be a non social media user, with no interest in it. However, when the narrator snoops through his phone, she discovers  that he regularly posts on conspiracy theory sites. 

Sadly I failed to finish Fake Accounts, so I don’t actually know how it ended. I just couldn’t get into it, and found that I neither cared nor wanted to know why Felix had this secret persona. The fact that the narrator thought it was acceptable to look through his phone and accounts with minimal guilt did put me off from the start.

Maybe I am of the wrong generation to enjoy the book.
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A woman decides to sneak a look at her boyfriend’s mobile phone while he is sleeping and is surprised to discover he is a popular blogger on conspiracy theories. This triggers an exploration of how people distort truth and reality through their online lives and the tyranny of social media. The writing is clever and witty, but the rather tart tone left me feeling detached and I never really gelled with it. I feel like it might go down better with a younger generation than mine.
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Our unnamed narrator discovers that her seemingly liberal boyfriend secretly runs a conspiracy theory account and then... things happen in Fake Accounts but starting to list them makes it sound like there’s a plot, when there really isn’t one for the most part! We go to the 2017 Women’s March in DC, to New York and to Berlin, but very little happens, so be warned if you like plot-heavy books.

I loved the whip-smart writing and was super drawn in at the beginning, but later on my patience felt like it was starting to draw thin, despite it being a pretty slim book. Long passages felt at times like they were only there for Oyler to show off an amusing or cutting insight, and reading about a woman who’s basically a compulsive liar got pretty uncomfortable for me - I don’t mind unlikeable characters if I feel like their actions are at least somewhat understandable, but at times I struggled here.

That being said, it’s definitely a thought provoking & funny read, and I would recommend it to fans of My Year of Rest & Relaxation. I’m interested to see what Oyler writes next!
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After reading very mixed reviews I can definitely say it is a marmite book and you will either love it or hate it. 
It's a very voice driven book with very little plot but don't let this put you off .Tu sum up it'.s a witty, intelligent and insightful look into social media and how the lives of the youth today are driven by this so called perfect online existence. . It gives you a lot of food for thought, who ae we online and who are we in real life ? I'm not a millennial (the target audience for this book I feel) but still found it relatable .
The first half of the book I found more enjoyable and agree with others when they say it could have been shorter as it did start to get a bit tiresome towards the end due to the lack of plot.
If you like cynical reads and dry humour then its worth picking up.
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Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler is a power packed, cynical take on social media obsessed generation who can be superficial yet craves to establish that they have a mind of their own all at the same time (which by the way could be you and me). While the story starts with an unnamed narrator discovering that her boyfriend is a conspiracy theorist on Instagram, we soon realize that this is only a trope to get the reader hooked on to the book. 
Lauren Oyler takes us through a roller-coaster story with an unnamed narrator, as she uncovers the various trivial and superficial day-to-day worries that unfortunately occupy a big chunk of the social media first generation’s mind space (meaning you & me). I enjoyed reading and kept nodding in approval with the voice of this narrator, who is in the pursuit of overcoming various information that her life is subjected to, which include, the 2016 US election, a conspiracy theorist boyfriend, a journalism career that doesn't amount to much, Berlin, dating websites, Twitter, new language, new city, new identity etc. The voice in this book is cynical, funny, yet straightforward which hit the right notes - I devoured this throughout my read. 
Throughout the book, I loved her sarcastic take on daily, mundane life events - how she mimics her contemporary’s fragmented writing styles, questions she raises about the overlap of the real self & the social media self (a question I usually ponder about a lot), how she cuts down on description of time & place because the narrator is busy scrolling through her phone (which is literally all of us) and her take on dating apps among many other nuances. I also loved how the narrator was unnamed, because, seriously, this could really be any one of us!
Do pick this up, if you are among the few who would like to laugh about our uncontrollable urge to stand out in a world where every other individual’s mission is to create a USP for themselves. 
Thank you @netgalley & @penguinrandomhouse for the free arc!
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On the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration, a young woman snoops through her boyfriend's phone and makes a startling discovery: he's an anonymous internet conspiracy theorist and a popular one at that. Already fluent in internet fakery, irony, and outrage, she's not exactly shocked by the revelation. Actually, she's relieved—he was always a little distant—and she plots to end their floundering relationship while on a trip to the Women's March in DC.

Fake Accounts is a smart novel about social media, identity and making up your own life or story. It’s got an interesting style, a fast read and you can devour it one sitting. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
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The chapters of "Fake Accounts" are entitled 'Beginning', 'Backstory', Middle (Something Happens)', 'Middle (Nothing Happens)', Climax', and 'End', and they do give a fairly accurate of the novel's trajectory. The plot involves the unnamed narrator quest to uncover the truth about her unrevealing boyfriend and what exactly he keeps hidden on his phone. The novel's action moves from Brooklyn to Berlin, with an interlude at the women's march in Washington.

However, the real subject of "Fake Accounts" is social media. The narrator spends hours hunched over her phone scrolling through Twitter: "I'd gotten used to using people I’d never met..to muffle the sound of time passing without transcendence or joy or any of the good emotions I wanted to experience during my life, and I knew the feeling was mutual." The narrator knows the right things to say and do as a liberal millennial but her narrative shows the sheer effort involved in projecting this persona and the lack of real depth or conviction behind it.

Oyler has fun skewering the narrator's shallowness and the gulf between her inner life and carefully crafted social media posts. Almost every page has some sharp observation and I frequently found myself wryly enjoying Oyler's takedown of a person who says things such as: "What would Ursula K. Le Guin do? I had to admit I’d never read her." and "The people at my yoga studio..were primarily white women living in Brooklyn and although I too was a white woman living in Brooklyn, I of course did not identify as such, since the description usually signifies someone selfish, lazy, and in possession of superficial understandings of complex topics such as racism and literature."

However, Although it is funny, I ultimately found "Fake Accounts" a deeply depressing book in which there seems no escape from the corrosive, narcissistic, siren-call of social media.
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For all her snark when it comes to reviewing other authors' work, Lauren Oyler's 'Fake Accounts' felt contrived, try-hard and topical for its own sake.
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This just wasn't for me. I couldn't even get through the first story. There is something about the writing that felt completely over written and the characters were almost stereotypes of their roles.
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I'd heard a lot of people raving about Fake Accounts so I thought I'd give it a go. I think the premise of Fake Accounts is very current and interesting however I found myself getting bored. I wanted to enjoy this but I ended up DNFing about 50% in, this book felt a bit self indulgent and not sure why.
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Compulsively readable novel about fakery online and irl. Fake it till you make it. Fake news, fake boyfriends, fake fakes.
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This book was both brilliant and incredibly uncomfortable at times. It started with,

""Consensus was the world was ending, or would begin to end very soon, if not by exponential environmental catastrophe, then by some combination of nuclear war, the American two-party system, patriarchy, white supremacy, gentrification, globalization, data breaches, and social media". 

which I found immediately gripping, anxiety-inducing, and somewhat an adequate representation of many things I have been feeling for several months. The disgust, the never ending bad news, the cycle.

I didn't think it was possible to write a novel that was so centred on the internet, social media... and was so well-written. The narrator - an unnamed white young woman from Brooklyn - was detestable in a way that meant I could not stop reading - she was such a perfect blend of irony, small cruelties, virtue signalling, lies, guilt, envy. She attends some political events because she thinks she should; overall she seems actually uninterested, unconcerned, like an observer who witnesses terrible things but - as a white middle-class educated woman, is ultimately less affected than those around her. On a visit to Berlin she meets Felix, a good-looking tour guide. He lies to her about some details of his life - fabricates a slightly better version of himself, apologises later when she googles him and finds out. So obviously they stay together. 

Snooping around his phone one night - back in the US - she finds out he is the man behind a popular conspiracy theories Instagram account. After his unfortunate death in a cycling accident, she decides to move back to Berlin. There, she spends her days doing very little, meeting guys on Tinder, lying to each one of them, making up a new life each evening, dozens of new identities. At some point she mockingly writes like all these female writers who write in fragments ("...having read several because they were easy to finish, I couldn't help but object: this trendy style was melodramatic, insinuating utmost meaning where there was only hollow prose..."), but keeps interrupting herself, she can never keep it short, that fragment was too long. 
There's so much about our current online culture, about the articles no one ever reads fully, the hipsters she keeps meeting, the pretentiousness of people interested in the arts and in literature. The writing stays punchy, cruel, comic, even when she pretends to write like these female writers she despises - one can guess the likes of Maggie Nelson, Jenny Offill, etc. Some sentences are little gems that work as well in the novel as they would on a tote bag: "I don't think positivity works, not least because it's alienating, but then again so is being a bitch".
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I devoured this book as fast as I can, and it’s not un-dense reading, it took work. I’ve seen this book yet some negative reviews because it is exceptionally pretentious and none of the characters are remotely likable.  And that’s fair, but who else would write a book like this?  I am nothing like this person, but it felt like a window going into the mind of this exact person that I’ve seen in coffee shops in Brooklyn a million times and always wondered how they tick. Well, this is how they tick.  This book is the “American Psycho” for whatever is left in New York City in 2021. I feel sorry for these authors’ loved ones, but I absolutely loved her book.
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"...although I too was a white woman living in Brooklyn, I of course did not identify as such, since the description usually signified someone selfish, lazy, and in possession of superficial understandings of complex topics such as racism and literature."

Fake Accounts follows a young narrator that is almost painfully lacking in self awareness, so slavish is she in creating a public facing persona. She is all forms of social media expressed in a single physical form. As a reader, you can't help but flinch, or cringe, or both, as the story unfolds. I did find the rapid fire banter of this anti heroine annoying, with grammatical and punctuation choices that are frustrating to read in long stretches. Often there are pauses and parentheses that make even a simple thought interminable. This only adds though in my opinion to what the author probably intended- a character with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. 

I was occasionally reminded of Patrick Bateman of American Psycho, had he access to Twitter, Instagram and OkCupid plus too much time on his hands.
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I had such high hopes for this book! The theme is so spot on for our times and the covid pandemic has made conspiracy theorists even more manic in their activities. Anyway the book started off brilliantly , the writing flowed and I was hooked , but then something happened, it almost felt like the writer became bored with the topic and veered off into the protagonists love life. It has got a twist towards the end but I’m sorry to say this novel left me very flat , finishing it and thinking “is that it !”
Thanks to NetGalley for a Pre published copy for an honest review
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This debut novel is a first person narrative of a young New York woman who grabs her boyfriend’s phone to discover he is an anonymous conspiracy theorist. Felix has never told her about his hobby, wanting to keep it secret. Follow her as she explores the issues of online lies and fake identities.

I did not like Lauren’s writing style, it rambled on and appeared to have no structure. Her story lacked focus and there was very little plot. Lots of characters popped into the story but character development was poor. There were no real surprises and the ending was a let down.

Lauren explored at great length the restrictions imposed by social media on the online character, identity and truth of posts. But this discussion on the scope of fake accounts on social media could be covered far quicker and better by reading a newspaper feature article.

I got very little pleasure from reading Fake Accounts and found it quite boring and uninspiring. It was a book that was very easy to put down and quite frankly, if ALL books were of this low quality, I would give up reading books as a hobby and move onto something else.

I am very surprised that a major publisher took a chance with this debut novel. I think Fake Accounts is a book to AVOID, so I vote it the lowest score of 1 star. The irony is that the best quote I can offer from this book also sums it up so well…

Keep in mind, too, that once you get with someone it’s easier to stay with them than to leave them, and that once you dedicate a certain amount of time and effort to a relationship or hobby or whatever, it feels as if that amount of time will have been wasted if you stop.

…Which is why I read this book to the very end.
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DNF at 18%. I don't like self-absorbed, verbose overthinkers even in real life, so I couldn't tolerate more than two chapters of this book. I really tried. 

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this book, and sorry!
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DNF @ 35%. 
This book was just pages and pages of incoherent rambling by a self-absorbed and vain narrator. 
The plot seemed quite intriguing but the book was dry and cringe-worthy. The writing was pretentious and tiring. 

Thank you NetGalley and Fourth Estate for the ARC.
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I’m sad to say I found this book pretty horrendous. The format is a little awkward (the whole book is a monologue) and the sentences are long, convoluted and the vocabulary is so complex it feels pretentious. For instance, was it truly necessary to write “antipodean” instead of “australian”? Every sentence (usually 8-line long minimum) has its little intellectually-superior gem and after a while I lost sight of the story and was blinded by this parade of complex terms used just for the sake of it. It really didn’t bring anything to the story. Also, in a chapter, the main character lists ALL the countries in the world by German alphabetical order. Why? I don’t understand many of these choices, the whole book feels over-edited. Its content is not at all what I expected nor what was promised by the description.
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Lauren Oyler – she of is perhaps best known as a combative literary critic and her forthright takedowns of same sacred cows of literature.  As far back as 2014 she wrote a review which started “I have always hated Roxane Gay’s writing” – thus taking down the patron saint of Goodreads; another review featured a line by line criticism of (cult reviewer) Ron Charles’s Washington Post’s review of the book.

She has critiqued (not always criticised) the tendency towards auto-fiction, the “spate of recent metafictional novels about writers” and the “hand-wringing that accompanies discussions of the author’s relative place in the real-world hierarchy of power relations” in the fragmentary fiction of Olivia Laing or Jenny Offill, while seemingly admiring Rachel Cusk’s approach of “making her autofictional narrator a supremely judgmental force in her day to day interactions, which is paradoxically, a humanizing quality”  

She also had the bravery nerve to critique the Jane Austen of millennial fiction Saint Sally Rooney who “writes in a way that satisfies the literary Goldilocks” and is one of the worst practitioners of the “moral obviousness of most contemporary fiction.” .   

Rooney herself once said “I don’t know how I could possibly make literary the time I waste on Facebook. It’s possible that a really good writer could actually make that very interesting. But for me, the endless scroll […] it’s really difficult to elevate that to something beautiful.”  

Why do I mention all of this – well firstly because researching things that people have placed online and what it tells you about them seems very much in keeping with the novel.  Secondly because Oyler has written a at least partly auto-fictional novel which takes on Rooney’s challenges of how to make the “endless scroll” literary, includes her own attempt at fragmentary fiction (not it has to be said with the best of intentions) and works in links to various other authors also.

The book is set in the first six months of 2017.  Our first person narrator is unnamed – although she (of course) has a Twitter profile picture based exactly on Oyler’s own (although of course only by knowing the author or checking out the author on Twitter would you appreciate this – the profile picture being very different from the shots that have accompanied articles about the book) and similarly (although in different circumstances) spends her (pre lockdown) time between the US and Berlin.  She works as a writer doing online articles on a popular website, and with something of a Twitter following – a job she kind of hates for its vacuity.

The book’s basic premise is that the narrator discovers that her latest boyfriend Felix (her ex-boyfriends functioning as a kind of imagined Greek Chorus and stand-in for the reader allowing the narrator to critique her own actions and thoughts through their eyes) despite his avowed disowning of the social media that consumes her (at one stage she even queries what people who don’t do social media actually use a phone for) has been in fact using his phone to run a cult Instagram account -THIS_ACCOUNT_IS_BUGGED which pedals a range of standard conspiracy theories (Twin Towers etc.), ones she is sure he does not believe but which have attracted considerable followers and interest.   

But this is not a book about the Alt-Right but about social media and the conspiracy theory storyline is quickly dropped to the status of a background mystery.

The narrator and Felix met in Berlin, where he was a Tour guide, and while she knew he routinely lied about his past (making something of a game of it) this does not fit anything of what she understood of his character.  She intends to confront him (without having decided how) on her return from the Trump-inauguration Women’s March – only to hear, via his mother, news of his death in a cycle-accident.  
Receiving some funds to fly to the memorial in California she instead quits her job and heads to Berlin where for want of anything else to do (determined neither to work, properly write or to learn the language – the lengthy section itself titled “Middle (Nothig Happens)”) she largely resorts to giving accounts of herself, consistent only on their fakeness, to her employer (as a casual child-minder), flatmate, the authorities (as she applies for residence), various dating apps and a series of men she meets via those apps (in a series of Zodiacally ordered encounters).  

The book is, I think, at its best in the early sections where the book not only seeks to make a literary rendition of the “endless scroll” of social media but also I think could be said to emulate a 21st Century Austen more genuinely than Rooney.  Rooney’s characters have a slightly ambiguous and far-from-all-consuming interaction with modern technology and as Oyler herself has commented a bit too much of an emphasis on ensuring equity (see for example how the Marianne Connell power relationship oscillates).  By contrast we have here a narrator fully at home in the online social media world and who in fact sees at best a porous barrier with the offline one.  Even more so (like Austen at her best) we have a narrator who sets out in detail the rules and power games of social interactions in that world.

There it really falls apart is in the Zodiacal dating section.  This section is written by the narrator as an attempt to imitate a style of female writing she has encountered (and by Oyler as a deliberate takedown of Offill etc).

The narrator talks of “Necessarily short sections, simple, aphoristic sentences, more of an essay than a novel.  Lots of women were writing fragmented books like this now” and remarks “What’s amazing about this structure is that you can just dump any material you have in here and leave it up to the reader to connect it to the rest of the work” while constantly critiquing herself every time her sections stray from the pithy path.   

A sentiment shared by the author who has remarked “think for most people, and this is something I learned while I was writing that section, it’s just a really easy way to write. You can sort of self-aggrandize all you want about the arrangement of the fragments, but the arrangement of the fragments doesn’t really matter”.

This section though fails.  It is forty pages long and forty pages of a half-hearted and (to be honest) not particularly well done attempt at a style the author thinks is almost meaningless – is funnily enough, forty pages of badly written nothing.  

I did however like the surely Cusk-esque tribute of adding a rather random dog story to this section and the Olivia Laing dig of “Why would I want to make my Book like Twitter.  If I wanted a book that resembled Twitter, I wouldn’t write a book,  would just spend more time on Twitter.”

I also struggled with the Berlin colour as being rather tedious.  At one stage on a rare excursion from her screen into the City the narrator says “Experiencing so much of the world two-dimensionally … made walking [outside] feel like moving through a painting or film” – except I as a reader felt the opposite, the novel is far more alive in the 2-D world of a phone screen and not at all convincing when it tries to add the third IRL dimension.

The book then ends in a Climax with something of a late twist (Felix faked his death), rendered rather cleverly with the narrator is initially not taken aback by the implications for her of some shock news but instead by the fact that it was such as shock and that somehow Twitter’s algorithm’s had let her down.

Overall this was a fascinating book by someone really interested in where the novel should go in the 21st Century.
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