Cover Image: Idol


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I am in two minds about this book. It is not my normal go-to genre but the subject matter gleaned from the blurb made me curious enough to find out more: a timely twisty new thriller involving the making and undoing of an influencer.

This influencer is Samantha Miller, who has millions of followers on social media and who makes it her business to dish out advice to her followership of young women. This advice is based on her own life experience. The relationship between her and her followers can be described as a strange combination of commercial greed and a particular brand of evangelism that lays bare a navel-gazing self-indulgence that I found quite annoying - but it is probably a fair representation of what being an influencer is all about. Samantha and her audience are feeding off each other revealing a pathetic neediness on both sides. At the peak of her career, Samantha is bathing in media exposure and follower approval that result in high calibre sponsorship deals and a place in the limelight of the rich, wealthy and famous. 

Samantha loves her life where she managed to turn all her vulnerabilities into this shiny icon of worship until one day, a blast from the past upsets this delicate balance and sends her into a downward spiral which brings into question everything she thought she was and represented. A chain of events involving the two people she loved most many years ago, catches up with her very publicly. What happens to her is terrible but I really couldn’t muster much empathy.

What I did find really intriguing was how the main protagonists remembered – or reinvented – their past to make it fit with the perceptions they have of themselves or with the image of themselves they want to project to others. How the same events experienced by the same people have been internalised in different ways in order to create a story of their lives that is acceptable to them and others.
All in all, not a bad read – just not quite my cup of tea.

I am grateful to NetGalley and Transword Publishers / Penguin Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is a fascinating read about; modern culture, social media and it's ability to influence and destroy wrapped up in a young woman's history and friendship.

Samantha is an Idol,  Guru who influences / manipulates? young woman through her social media / books and live events. It's at one of these events that she receives some news that could bring her down. What follows is Sam's journey to her past and her attempts to rewrite history. I found it an interesting, easy read, with a cracking end.

Thanks to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview.
Was this review helpful?
Wow. Just... wow.

This book is... a lot. And one I feel like my review will not do justice, because how I do adequately put into words just how incredible it is? I was hooked right from the start and found it to be such a page-turner despite the heavy subject matter. I read the last 75% in one sitting - a glance at my clock said 2.30am, then 4.40am and before I knew it, it was past 6am.

I love how this novel explores the many versions of truth as well as trauma and memory. It starts uncomfortable but important conversations about consent, sexual assault and the #MeToo movement. It's also an acute deep dive into the influencer lifestyle and image, social media toxicity, performative wokeness and cancel culture.

The protagonist is a hot mess but yet there's also something so charismatic about her that you can't peel yourself away from. Sad to say but I could relate to some of her experiences and decisions e.g. fictionalising a real-life account as a coping mechanism.

This is my 4th book by the author and once again, she tackles the most difficult topics with such ingenuity and skill. It's also one of the best books I've read about female friendships. There are lots of crazy, intense moments but also the tender and heartfelt ones.

Dark, haunting, powerful, unforgettable — this is a book that will stay with me for long.
Was this review helpful?
What a thoroughly horrible bunch of characters. I don't think any of them has a redeeming feature, but Sam is foul, absolutely foul. The plot is almost secondary.
Was this review helpful?
One word review - Intense

Wow well this book just about blew me away and that ending arrgghh.

O’Neill is not afraid to take on controversial issues and run with them. The reader is treated to a great book that raises many important issues around the idea of social media personalities, of how it is OK to blur the lines to get a start and how we never really know who anyone is when you only know them online.

The book also looks at cancel culture, at female/female abuse and how this is treated differently from male/female abuse, it looks at how intensely people experience things when they are young and how no two people ever have the same memories of the same event. It challenges the reader to question who they believe and why and to look beyond the echo chamber of social media. 

A riveting look at the issues that still affect young women today and that society needs to do better to finally overcome. 

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who appreciates a nuanced look at social issues facing young women and who has no problem with unlikeable characters.
Was this review helpful?
The blurb of this book really appealed to me and it definitely lived up to expectations. I flew through it in a day, it was a really quick read but full of substance! Some of the subject matter is difficult to read about but was handled really well by the author. Sam and Lisa were really interesting and complex characters, I didn't quite know what to make of them. I won't say too much about the plot so as not to give away any spoilers but it's full of intrgue and told with a dual timeline focusing on Sam and Lisa's school years and the present day. I really wasn't expecting it to end the way it did but it definitely went out with a bang.
Was this review helpful?
Idol by Louise O’Neill 
I give this book 4.25 stars

For Samantha Miller's young fans, she's an oracle, telling them how to live their lives, how to be happy, how to find and honour their 'truth'. 
She's written about her sexual awakening as a teenager, with her best friend, Lisa. The essay goes viral.
But then - Lisa gets in touch to say that she doesn't remember it that way at all. It's Sam's word against Lisa's - so who gets to tell the story? Whose 'truth' is really a lie? 

A realistic and thought provoking  read that tackles tough relevant issues head on.Told between past and present timelines with an unreliable narrative l was sucked right in.Should social influencers be idolised,whose recollections are accurate,what are unhealthy friendships,how do you deal with cancel culture. I loved how this author made a book uncomfortable but believable and  totally engrossing at the same time! One l think everyone will be discussing,grab your copy and join the debate .
With thanks to Netgalley, Louise O’Neill and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press for my chance to read and review this book
Was this review helpful?
I love a messy protagonist and Idol’s Samantha must be one of the messiest. A wellness influencer gone wrong, she’s unreliable, untrustworthy, and yet completely relatable despite the terrible things she may or may not have done to those closest to her. Idol is yet another compulsive thriller from Louise O’Neill.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book and would enjoy reading another one from this author. The dual timelines were really well written and it was really easy to visualise.
Was this review helpful?
Second book I’ve read by Louise O’Neill and I’m just as impressed on finishing this one.
I was gripped by the story immediately.

This has dual timelines and an unreliable narrator so you’re left waiting until the very end for the truth revealed.

A very worthwhile read.
Was this review helpful?
This book, I imagine, will split ‘the vote’….
Samantha is a social media guru, loved, adored, cherished by millions of girls who stand by her feminist  vocality and vegan lifestyle…until she is accused of sexual assault…by a former female best friend ( Lisa ) and her life becomes, well in the words of one author comment ‘gloriously messy’
I really liked Samantha for the first part of the book then this changed to a rabid dislike of her, but there are reasons for this and I think readers will either empathise or totally loathe her
Same has to be said for all the other characters throughout tbh
There are many triggers, most of the ones you are thinking are there and do form part of the complete story and not just thrown in for effect
A peculiarly sharp and brutally quick ending, I wondered if a chapter had been missed but no, it ends as the rest of the book made me feel, slightly out of kilter and yet wanting just that bit more of the story
A strange book to review and although am giving it lower marks they are good lower marks if makes sense, an unsettlingly unable to pigeon hole book that would recommend you read if you want to shake up your mind a bit!  

3.5 Stars
Was this review helpful?
Louise O’ Neill is a sensation. She head on tackles current subjects and the grey areas they pose. The ‘what ifs’ the ‘why’s?’ Ever since ‘Asking For It’ I’ve loved Louise but this continues the same but different types of themes like consent and the reliability of people’s memories. I don’t know who I truly believe and I love a book that makes me think. Anyone who wants to be challenged mentally would love this books.

Trigger warnings: sexual abuse

Thank you @netgalley for the eARC of Idol. Idol is out on 12th May 2022.
Was this review helpful?
4*. Idol by Louise O’Neill is a twisty dark thriller. It is compelling, compulsive and claustrophobic. It’s almost impossible to put down. 

Sam is a wellness guru and hugely successful online influencer. She’s an author with a Hollywood blockbuster under her belt. However, her fragile empire is shaken to the core when allegations arise about an event which happened when she was a teenager. An event which threatens the image that Sam promotes and the industry which she promotes. 

Sam returns to the small town which she grew up in to confront those raising allegations and her past. Hugely uncomfortable, Idol is a smart and tense read. 

Thanks to Transworld, Penguin Random House and Netgalley for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I haven’t read anything by Louise O’Neill before but was aware of her past books. I believe Idol is a bit of a departure as it’s not so much a thriller than a deep dive into how traumatic past events can’t affect a person and their memory. 
Samantha is a highly successful wellness influencer, she has hordes of impressionable young women hanging on her every word as she lays bare the traumatic events of her life and how she has overcome addiction and sexual trauma. 
. An anonymous post accusing her of sexual assault when she was young suddenly blows her carefully constructed life to smithereens. She is removed from her company board and other accusations a quick to follow. In desperation she heads home to confront her oldest friend who she believes is behind the post. 
Idol is a really good story but Samantha is so unrelenting horrible that it’s really hard to care about her.  I don’t think that would matter if the other people involved were better drawn, particularly her friend and ex-boyfriend.  If we were able to cheer them on as she is taken down I think it would be a far stronger book.  The book is too one sided which I think is a real shame.  

Thank you to #netgalley and #randomhouse for allowing me to review this book.
Was this review helpful?
I have read and enjoyed all of Louise O 'Neill's previous books. I love that she writes so authentically across so many genres and I am confident picking up anything that she writes, that it will be an well written and well executed story.

Idol very much affirmed my opinion. Idol is set the US . Samantha is a wildly successful online influencer who has just released her latest bestseller. For her millions of online fans "her girls" , Samantha can do no wrong. They follow her recommendations to "live their truth". Prior to the publication of her latest book, Samantha writes an essay about her sexual awakening, decades before with her teenage best friend, Lisa. The essay goes viral and then Lisa gets in touch to say what actually happened that night was completely different and both women recall the night very very differently. 

This was a really timely novel examining the concept of influencers, social media and the fragility of memory. It started really strongly and I was really interested in both the main character and her tenaciousness and online world. As the story unfolds, Samantha goes back to her old hometown to try to confront Lisa and the story flashbacks to their teenage years. My interest waned a little at this point. Samantha was a really well drawn character but I thought Lisa wasn't.

I liked Idol but it isn't my favourite of O'Neill's books. Great concept and really loved the examination of memory but felt the book petered out a little through the second half. Some of this however could of been my high expectations that left me a little disappointed by the second half. Nonetheless, it was well written, interesting and relevant as one would expect from this author.. I look forward to her next book.

3-3.5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
I found this book a bit of a rollercoaster. So many twists and turns throughout and the author delves into a lot of complex situations.
Was this review helpful?
I am completely perplexed by Idol. This is the first novel of Louise O’Neils that I have read, which features many current, serious and complex issues such as eating disorders, addiction, rape and sexual assault, the MeToo movement and the power of online influencers/gurus. I finished the book in a little over 24 hours however did I enjoy it? I’m really not sure. 

Despite the world she “influences” Samantha Miller is personified as a shallow, manipulative liar and quite frankly a narcissist. Whilst I’m sure this is how O’Neil intended her “complex” main character to be seen, I feel that despite all of these clear personality traits that Samantha lacked depth. As a result, I didn’t understand her, despise her or emphasise with her in any way. In truth I didn’t feel I engaged with Samantha or any of the characters.  

Arguably I guess this was a page-turner in that I wanted to continue reading to see how the story of Samantha, Josh and Lisa ended however I didn’t find it to be a gripping, emotive or thrilling read. Idol had the potential to be a powerful and strong story, raising awareness of multiple important topics, but for me it just fell a bit flat.
Was this review helpful?
I found this book incredibly hard to put down. I was intrigued to know more about Sam and Lisa's past and the secrets they both held. I was eager to see the outcome of this read, and although I had assumptions about the truth, the conclusion proved I was entirely off the mark!

I love it when an author can take my breath away by their writing style. Louise O'Neill has now become a firm favourite author of mine. The intense yet slow reveal was perfect for this storyline, and I am excited to read more by her. Covering various topics (which may be triggering for some readers), these characters' depth runs more profound than most.

If you are a psychological thriller fan, this is a must-read. Pre-order a copy today, don't miss out on this absorbing, compelling summer read!
Was this review helpful?
Biting look at influencers, at self-perception, at our modern world.

Louise O'Neill is a name that when I see on a book, since her debut, I know I'm going to want to read. And yes, Idol lived up to my expectations. 

I couldn't help but picture Reese Witherspoon as Sam throughout, her perky persona, stunning and petite frame, strength and ability to transform into a role. Which is Sam really. 

Samantha is worshipped by thousands, probably millions of women. Self-empowerment is her message, she brings a Gwyneth Paltrow-like (Goop) mix of products and messages to her followers, her adorers, through every social media platform going. Books, paid-for Facebook groups, events. She's the rock star of the feminist self-help world. She'll spout such deep thoughts as, "I'm a human being having a human experience and I need to honour my truth. And my truth is that I fel triggered and upset."

You might feel the same as I do about the above. 

Sam has made a fortune from telling her truth to women everywhere, opening up about sexual assaults, her drug use, eating disorders, how her family treated her through these tough times and how she clawed her way out of the spirals. It's inspired so many, and helped 'her girls'. 

Yet her carefully-curated world is as vulnerable as anyone else's to accusations. 

From her childhood best friend. Cue manager. Cue crisis management team. Cue a trip to a home town to try and cut off the problem at source, and try and talk sense into the best friend who clearly sees the past differently to Sam. But why?

Ohh this was so good. I love an unreliable narrator. Firstly Sam is (as the quote above shows) a character where you see past the pedestal. You know there are things she isn't telling you. And she is pretty complex, riveting and someone you want to understand. Everything is about her, both inside the story and what you as reader want to know.

You'll read through and draw your own conclusions about the past, about Sam's perceptions of others. And our view of a public figure being torn down, being examined, being tried on social media, is very relevant and something we should all be aware of. The public story is never all of the story.

Satisfying but still quite dark, I just loved the slow-reveal and excellent writing. Sam is a great character, ripe for a filmed version. 

With thanks to Netgalley for providing a sample reading copy.
Was this review helpful?
This was such an enjoyable and messy read. Flew through it. Toxic female friendships, online celebrity, #MeToo, the urge to self-mythologise online, influencer culture, cancel culture, obsession. I know this might sound like so much to cram in but O'Neill did it in such a good n easy n compelling way. Some of this was genuinely hard to read, whether due to the content or the actual visceral cringe I felt. 

This was my first book by the author and I'll definitely be picking more up. 

Big thanks to NetGalley, Random House UK, and the author for the e-ARC.
Available to buy 12/5/22.

CW: SA, eating disorder, emotional abuse
Was this review helpful?