Audiobook Review: I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

I Was Born for ThisI Was Born for This by Alice Oseman
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

For Angel, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – 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 just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

Warnings: panic attacks, physical assault

I Was Born For This explores self-realization and growing up with the backdrop of stan culture. The book is told from two viewpoints – one of a fan of a popular British rock boy band, Angel, and the other from one of the members of said band, Jimmy, with the story surrounding a concert that Angel is to attend with her best friend who she is going to meet in real life for the first time; this concert is also the last of the band Ark’s tour before they sign on to a bigger recording label. Essentially, it is a time of change for both characters, as they notice around themselves and look to the future.

Now, boy band culture is a big thing in this novel, and while I am not a part of any music fandom nor do I particularly follow any bands with as much fervor as Angel does, I feel like Oseman does a great job reconciling the image from a diehard fan as well as from someone on the ‘outside’. With the rise in Korean boy bands’ popularity overseas, it feels like a fitting topic to explore once again – like how such fandoms are looked down upon, because they are comprised mostly of girls, and how they find a community in this shared love. Angel finds her friend Juliet and a belonging and understanding online thanks to her love for the Ark, and you can see her pride and joy whenever they achieve greater heights, because she has been there nearly from the start. She also assigns all her personal value to her being a fan, like she ‘lives for the Ark’ and her story arc is also about realizing that there is more to being Angel Rahimi than just being a fan of the Ark.

Jimmy’s perspective, on the flip side, gives voice to the darker side of the fandom culture. Not just the lack of privacy, the obsessive fans and stuff, but also about the fetishization of queer men, which is much more pronounced in boy band fandoms. We all know about the existence of a huge trove of fanfics and fantasy material in which fans ship band members, making entire stories about a single gesture in a public appearance, interpreting a single look into something more, and from Jimmy’s POV we see how messed up it is. I mean, I have always been against shipping real-life people, especially when they are NOT in a relationship (its gross y’all, please stop that), but Jimmy lays it out in a much more intense and real way. He also has anxiety, which doesn’t do great in an already stressful job, but he is very afraid of the rabidness of his fans so much so that he is afraid of stalkers; Rowan, another band member hates the way the extreme fans behave, especially with their shipping of him and Jimmy affecting his real life secret relationship, but in public they have to present it all like they are grateful for their fans’ love, and tell themselves that this is the price to pay for greatness.

Angel’s and Jimmy’s meeting catalyzes a change for both their lives – Angel gets to meet her idol, and see that underneath it all, he is just a boy, too. Jimmy goes over his life, to see whether the price he has paid in the loss of his mental peace has really been worth it. There are so much more nuances to their individual arcs that I can’t get into this review – partly because so much of it would be spoiler, but also because I don’t think I can entirely put into words how much I appreciated the way it was written. This book is to experienced to be believed how good it is, and I would suggest doing so on audio – both narrators do a good job, but the one for Angel is especially awesome, because she brings out her excitement and everything so well.

Overall, it is a wonderful book with two interesting main characters, and a theme that is well explored.

Is it diverse? one of the main characters is a biracial (Indian-Italian) gay trans boy with anxiety, while the other is a questioning Muslim hijabi girl; secondary black character; secondary bisexual character; secondary biracial (Chinese-White) character

Also by Alice Oseman

Solitaire Radio Silence

View all my reviews

Buy links

The Book Depository | Wordery

One thought on “Audiobook Review: I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

  1. Pingback: September 2019 Wrap-Up | YA on my Mind

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