I was so lucky enough to receive a proof copy of I Was Born For This from Harper Collins and I am SO thrilled that I could read this early! It rolls together fandom, social anxiety, self-doubt, LGBT+ characters, friendship, family issues and meeting new people – all into one book, and I can’t begin to describe how brilliantly Alice Oseman achieved all of this.
For Angel, life is about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock rio of teenage boys taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything she loves – her friend Juliet, her dreams, her place in the world. Jimmy owes everything to The Ark. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band with his mates is all he ever dreamed of doing.
But dreams don’t always turn out the way you think, and when Jimmy and Angel are unexpectedly thrust together they find out how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.
Alice Oseman knows her audience. The teenagers she writes are believable; with the slang used sounding incredibly authentic, believable and comfortable. It’s refreshing to read a book that sounds so current and doesn’t have eye-rolling slang used.
The story alternates between Angel, a superfan obsessed with The Ark who has come to London to see them in concert, and Jimmy, the frontman of The Ark who constantly puts up a front of being well and happy while crumbling on the inside. As the book is a proof and isn’t yet released, I won’t detail how they meet – but the meeting is just as important and life-changing for Angel as it is for Jimmy. It breaks down boundaries and walls that the characters have built up around them, and also hits home a lot of truths they are avoiding.
Of all the characters in the book, my favourite has to be Lister. There is so much about his character that really spoke to me and really resonated with me too. At times, he’s frightened, at times he’s bold and loud. He is such a mixed personality and it’s so refreshing to see. Often in books, a character will have one main personality trait that they live by, but Lister is such a mix that it makes him seem truly human. He has his flaws, he has things that make him confident, and most times he tries to do the right thing without realising the reactions from other people. Read this book and tell me how great Lister is so we can share that, alright?
It’s brilliant to see fandom from both sides – the fans and the band. Within any fandom,you have the mix of the stereotypical rabid fans, the angry fans, the fans who have had their lives changed, the casual fan, the over-the-top fan. What brings them all together is their fandom, and for this book, that’s The Ark. It was brilliant to not only see this mix of fans, but to see the bands reactions about them and how they each interact and deal differently with them.
On a final note, this book just seems to do everything right. Male friendships where the guys aren’t afraid to tell each other that they love one another. Looking out for each other and actively encouraging discussions of mental health. Sure, at times in the book a character may be misunderstood, but there was always the option of talking to one another. There is also such huge diversity without the uncomfortable feeling of box-ticking. I hate reading books where it’s blatantly obvious that the author has just shoved in a token black character and a token gay character without fleshing out their character to be anything but their labels.
Alice Oseman hasn’t done anything of the sort. She has created a diverse cast of characters without shoehorning anyone in, and has created two friendship groups that many people will look at and say ‘that reflects my friendship group’. It’s honestly so comforting to read characters of different backgrounds, skin tones, faiths and sexualities and not have to grumble because they’re a stereotype. Alice did her research about how to portray these characters correctly, and it really shows in her book. For more information on how she did this, check out this video on her YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J2RzWMMoy4
Final thoughts: A truthful reflection of fandom, life and friendship. 5/5