Goodreads Synopsis: For Angel Rahimi, 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 friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.
Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.
I first discovered Alice Oseman when I learned about Radio Silence. Also, there was black biracial girl on the cover so that was a compelling enough reason for me to pick up her book! A US publisher bought her second novel, but the cover didn’t have the girl represented on it like the UK edition. I went ahead and purchased Radio Silence from TheBookDepository.com because I wanted to see someone that looked like me on the cover. I waited three whole weeks for it to arrive and the rest is history. When I heard the author had a brand new book coming out I WAS SO EXCITED. Unfortunately, the US publisher didn’t want her next book (LAME) so I had to order it from a UK retailer again. That’s how much I like this author’s work. I have to say her third book, I Was Born For This, lived up to all my expectations.
“I think the truth is that everyone in the entire world is confused and nobody understands much of anything at all.”
I loved everything about this book except the direction that some of the plot went in, which is why I took half of a point off. Otherwise, it was absolutely incredible. I Was Born For This follows an almost similar plot formula to Radio Silence but not in a way that feels repetitive. In fact, I felt like Alice Oseman brought all the things that worked her previous book but made it even better.
The book follows Fereshteh “Angel” Rahimi, an eighteen year old Muslim girl, who is very involved in The Ark fandom, an all-boy British band. What’s so cool to me is that The Ark’s members aren’t all white: Jimmy is a biracial (Indian/Italian) transgender boy; Rowan is Nigerian and the Alpha in a sense; Lister is bisexual. The entire story happens in the span of a week and we actually get both Angel’s and Jimmy’s POV throughout. Normally, I don’t like POV changes but here it worked!
Angel meets up with a girl named Juliet from online to go to The Ark concert. She stays at Juliet’s grandmother’s place but learns that Juliet brought a boy a long to hang out with as well. This effects the friendship dynamics, which you’ll notice when you read the book. In the meantime, Jimmy is struggling with anxiety and the pressure of an impending new band contract. Rowan is dealing with trying to keep his relationship with Bliss, a biracial Asian girl, a secret. Lister is self-medicating with alcohol and trying to laugh everything off. They all have their share of problems. Suffice to say, behind the scenes The Ark is quite dysfunctional and once Angel realizes this it makes her rethink everything she thought she knew. All these issues tie together and lead to a series of events that change all their lives forever.
Things I Loved:
- The female friendships! They weren’t perfect, but they weren’t petty either.
- The complexity of online friendships in real life.
- The complexity of being in famous boyband.
- The religious symbolism: The Ark. Angel. Joan of Arc. (Also, Jimmy is Christian or at least he has a close relative who is a practicing but he occasionally attends services).
- The inclusion of diversity felt seamless and not forced.
- How anxiety is represented. I’ve never had a full on anxiety/panic attack but I’ve experienced similar intrusive thoughts the way Jimmy has.
- During the week span of the timeline, Angel talks to her dad on the phone and he is a very caring father. This is important because Muslim fathers don’t always have positive rep and I wanted to note that it exists here.
- I liked the way Angel talks as if she’s just figuring things out and growing into maturity and not as if she’s already a fountain of knowledge. This contrasts with John Green novels where the characters all talk as if they have life figured out already! You can have complex, philosophical thoughts but I feel like it needs to sound like a sudden revelation. Anyway, I appreciated how we got to see Angel mature.
*Spoilers are crossed out*
While I enjoyed nearly everything about this book, I found it hard to swallow a plot in which the main character actually meets, helps, and stays overnight at the grandfather of a guy in a world famous boy band.
Even though I liked that Angel has this little adventure, sometimes I felt like The Ark obsession thing was the main event of the story. There was SO much going on with all the characters and I would’ve liked there be some more focus on their issues rather than the fact that half the characters are in a famous band and the other half are connected to the members in some way.
All in all, the representation was amazing! I liked every single character. Everyone is flawed and messy. Everyone has as a lot going on in their own life, which leads the characters to act self-centered to a degree. Sometimes when you go through your own sh*t, you’re in your own bubble so-to-speak. But at the end of the day, these characters do care, flaws and all. Ultimately, the lesson I think Angel learns is that she can’t place all her faith in a boy band because real life can be a let down and nothing and no one is perfect.