Jamie Burchell is all over social media. She uses every service imaginable to talk about her life – the ups, the downs, the hot neighbour she keeps seeing out running. When she’s not tweeting, Jamie works on her web serial, or in the café she runs with a friend.
As her popularity online grows, Jamie finds that she is the target of a stalker – someone who watches her every move and is desperate for her attention.
Now Following You is a book that can’t quite decide whether it wants to be a thriller or a romance. Sometimes the focus is clearly on the romance for a while, with barely any mention of the stalker. Other times, the romance takes a back seat, even when it should be accelerating. Over all, I think it’s a better love story than it is a thriller – the romance is complex and believable, while the stalking occasionally feels like a distraction from the main storyline.
I think that’s because the tension isn’t there – a story based around stalking really needs a strong undercurrent of fear, and it’s not there for much of the novel. Jamie reacts with fear in the moment, but continues to be relatively relaxed as the stalker escalates. There’s a point at which it becomes unreasonable to ignore the threats, and Jamie never fully takes her stalker seriously.
The romance is, as already mentioned, rather more convincing. Jamie’s love interest is a single father, and the slow build of romance between two people who have a child’s emotions to deal with is convincing and thoughtful. Both romantic leads are rather touchy, which enables the romance to have the traditional reverses on its way to success.
I enjoyed the setting – the author is from South Africa, and sets the novel there, which is refreshing. Off-hand, I can’t recall having read many other books set in South Africa – it’s interesting to read a novel that concerns it self with normal life in a different culture.
The novel is rather modern stylistically, which is a double-edged sword. A novel based around a social media addict has to address technology, and Now Following You does this. Some sections are told entirely through status updates or comment threads on Jamie’s blog. The author gets the tone of these mostly right, which is a difficult thing to do. However, pegging a book closely to modern technology runs the risk of dating it fast, if technology moves on.
Overall, this book is competently written and entertaining. I went in with the expectation of reading a thriller, and that wasn’t borne out, but as long as you read it with the understanding that what you are getting is a romance, Now Following You is a rewarding read.