April 17, 2023

Book Review: People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd

“Breathlessly fast (it’s not), brilliantly originally (it wasn’t).”

I really wanted to like this book, but I finally tossed it to the floor while uttering, “Good riddance,” about two-thirds of the way through. I still feel qualified to write a review since I read most of it. Usually, I try to be pretty positive in book reviews, but screw it—this one will be a rant. I wouldn’t say this review contains any spoilers since the book is devoid of any real plot.

People Like Her follows Emmy Jackson, a social media influencer in the mom arena, also known as an Instamom. She has two kids who are more of setpieces in the book than actual characters, a useless husband, and a chaotic-evil stalker.

I hated all the characters in the book, and let me tell you why.

First, Emmy’s Husband, Dan, is a full-time writer. Considering two writers wrote this book, I’m shocked at how unbelievable Dan’s career is. He wrote one book, which was published eight years ago, has been working on his next book ever since, and still calls himself a full-time writer. Even if Dan landed a fantastic deal publishing that one book, a book deal doesn’t make enough money for someone, let alone a family of four, to live on for eight years. It’s okay, though. He got an inheritance once. On top of his lame career, he has no aspirations and is hopeless at managing his family’s household and his kids. The man has no redeeming qualities aside from Emmy saying he’s handsome.

Initially, I thought there were only two point-of-view characters: Dan and Emmy. However, I eventually realized that the large sections in italics with no headings were supposed to be from the perspective of the stalker. We very slowly learn that the stalker has suffered trauma, including the death of her daughter and granddaughter. There’s no tangible reason why the stalker’s vitriol focuses on Emmy and her family. She wants to torcher the children to… cause pain? The stalker’s back story does nothing to explain why they’ve turned evil and is too convoluted and vague to be interesting to read. Plus, the stalker does very little actual stalking.

Mostly, I just feel apathetic toward the main character Emmy. She never wanted to have kids—in fact, she’s very blasé about having a couple of elective abortions in the past. However, when her previous field of magazine journalism started drying up, she made a smart pivot to becoming an influencer. She chose the mom-sphere as her agent recommended and popped out a couple of kids. I think the author intended Emmy’s influencing career to come across as vapid and fake, but since Emmy doesn’t seem to experience any emotions in the book, her whole character falls flat. Not once did I root for or against Emmy. I don’t care what happens to her, so I didn’t bother to read to the end to figure out what sinister plans the stalker carried out.

How this “story” plays out is even worse than the terrible characters. There’s no actual plot. Instead, a few events happen, and these cause the characters to pontificate endlessly about pointless stuff: Emmy’s relationship with her mom, that time Dan had lunch with his publisher, the kinds of content Emmy shares on Instagram, how much the stalker likes this teddy bear in particular, some of the upgrades the couple has made to their house, and oh God just make it stop!

At no point does the book become mysterious or thrilling—at least not in the first 200 pages I actually read. It’s a shame, too, because the general premise is so intriguing: A sadistic villain terrorizes a picture-perfect social media influencer family.
I recently saw a book on Amazon with a shockingly similar cover to People Like Her. It’s called What Lies Between Us. I know absolutely nothing about it, but I recommend it over the heap I just read.

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