A lot of people seem generally offended that anyone internet famous dare write a book. I, however, am not someone particularly bothered by it or find it some affront to literature. I do get the pushback. The aim for these books isn’t always quality, just money. But hey, the book industry needs to make money and giving Youtube and Vine stars book deals isn’t always a terrible thing. If someone finds enjoyment in the books then so be it. I picked up a few books penned by the internet famous and do not feel like any brain cells were killed in the process.
The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell, Phil Lester
I was getting old when the Youtube craze was heating up and never got incredibly consumed by it, but there were a few Youtubers I found that I still watch sometimes. Dan and Phil are two of them. Their videos are silly and charming and I was interested to see what they’d do with a book deal. What they came up with wasn’t a memoir, but something that’s more scrapbook-like. It’s filled with behind the scenes info and stories that work as a companion to their videos opposed to being a story of their lives.
It’s something I mostly just flipped through instead of reading from front to back. I had it from the library, but it’s something I’d consider buying since it’s better suited to pick up once in a while rather than read straight through.
All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Carrie’s videos I watch more regularly than anyone else’s probably. She comes off as completely genuine and her videos aren’t some big production. While she vlogs about her daily life she also discusses a range of a more complicated topics. Her video feels very nurturing and encouraging as she seems to get so much joy from life, which is what I also hoped would come from her book. I wasn’t disappointed.
She isn’t a stranger to writing and dispensing advice. Her book is based on a blog she kept (that I sadly never kept up with) where she talked about life lessons. Her book became essentially an advice book to growing up. While the book is aimed at a younger audience, I still found value in it as an adult. A lot of what she talks about are things I’ve already learned from life, but adults can still use reminders. Letting things go, being kind, and having confidence are all part of the process of living. I enjoyed anecdotes she shared and how much of her personality she injected into her writing. I don’t always agree with Carrie (both in her videos and in this book), but it’s never angering or distracting. She’s also a girl in her 20s who has figured some things out and is still working on other things. What makes her book and videos lovable is her obvious passion for what she’s doing and her want to share her work with others.
Surviving High School by Lele Pons and Melissa de la Cruz
Lele Pons is a Vine star and I am someone who was late to Vine. I found a few creators I found interesting and followed them and look at Vine infrequently. But I think it’s an interesting medium and can be an art. Viners appear to be the most highly criticized form of internet entertainers which isn’t completely without foundation. Many rely on lazy stereotypes to make their jokes, but there are plenty of creators who are funny with resorting to racism and sexism.
While Lele’s Vines sometimes veer towards the cliched, stereotypical Vines, she definitely has talent and humor. She’s also young, 19, and 19 year olds don’t tend to be completely enlightened. Her book is a fictionalized memoir of her life. I was hoping to get more insight into her background, but since this is a novel and not about the real her there wasn’t a lot of that. It did however provide a look at what it’s like to navigate high school with newfound fame and a little bit of the Vine creating process.
What didn’t work for me personally is it felt incredibly young. It focused mostly on the pressures of being a teenager that I am so far removed from now. I read a lot of YA I can relate to, but a lot of her stories were connected to the teenage things I don’t even think about anymore. I did like how fictionalized stories of her life transform into what become her videos. There are some funny moments as well as lessons learned about fame but also just friendships and everyday life. Overall the book just wasn’t for me though. I am sure her young fans that adore her Vines will like it, but I am far from the target audience. I was a little too irked by some of the “girls are likes this and boys are like this” cliches when expanded from a six second video to a full story. And as I give teenagers a little more credit than they often are given, I feel they can be entertained by this and work out any potentially negative messages on their own.
Surviving High School was provided for free through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.