This is a difficult one for me. I really enjoyed it, but at times it made me kind of sad. It's horrible to me that some many women and young girls strive to attain the unattainable- perfection. This is definitely the sort of warning I wish could be required reading for potential "influencers". The book felt short, page-wise, and can be enjoyed in a weekend, easily.
Thank you Netgalley for this ARC of Aesthetica by Allie Rowbottom.
Uuuugh, I don't know how to feel about this one!
First off, if you want a bleeeeak picture of the life of a beauty/aesthetic influencer, here you go. It's brutal, it's relentless, and it will never feel young/thin/curvy/hot enough. However, if you want that lifestyle, you should do it! And you should get the plastic surgeries, it's your body, it's your life. But on your journey, be very careful and wary of anyone who might want to take advantage of your image/body/money/psyche/confidence/sense of power. They may be the cause of your downfall.
Is basically a lot of the message in this book. On top of that, the writing style lost me a lot, so I was never quite sure where in the timeline I was.
I appreciated a lot of the messaging in the story, and I won't lie when I say that I too have a sick fascination with this whole new world of making an honest living as an influencer, beauty of not. But this also left me feeling so hollow, which may have been what the author was trying to do, but not exactly how I want to feel when reading a book
A Haunting Glimpse into the Influencer Culture: Allie Rowbottom's 'Aesthetica' Delivers
For a few years in the mid-2010s, the concept of a girl who was still in her teens getting preventative injectables became totally normalized overnight. It suddenly became a mundane occurrence to see your favorite beauty guru posting an Instagram story in selfie mode as a long needle enters their swollen lips. In 2017, a record number of 21,000 botox syringes were injected into the faces of patients aged 13-19.* In that same year, Botox injection procedures were up 876% from 2010, and 94% of all Botox procedures in the US were done on women.
*It’s important to note that Botox injections are an effective treatment for chronic migraines, including in children. However, in the study referenced, the 21,000 botox procedures performed on patients ages 13-19 were separated from medically necessary procedures.
Allie Rowbottom’s new novel Aesthetica predicts the trend with sharp accuracy. The story follows ‘annawrey’, a fictional influencer living in Los Angeles. The narrative flits between past and present, with present being Anna in her 30s, preparing for a new and risky surgery called Aesthetica™, which aims to reverse all former plastic surgery the patient has. The surgery claims to include natural aging along with procedure reversal. If you’ve had botox to prevent wrinkles, you would leave surgery with the aging those injectables were supposed to prevent.
Aesthetica poses a question that is difficult to tackle, perhaps impossible to answer: is the act of reversing plastic surgery just another makeover? However, a deeper look at Anna Wrey’s story in the book poses a more important question:
Is social media and the endless pursuit of beauty just a distraction from the deeper things nagging at us?
Please visit the free post on my Substack for the full-length review with sources cited.
I think this is one of the best book discussion books of the year conceptually, especially in a millennial book discussion.
Unfortunately, Asthetica just didn’t work for me. While I appreciate the author tackling an important and risky topic like social media, the rest of the story fell flat. First, there wasn’t much of a plot. While I understand this is a shorter book, it still felt like nothing really happened. I also couldn’t connect with the main character, Anna. She just didn’t come off as likable to me, and her relationships with the other characters seemed underdeveloped. I also thought the writing was very choppy. However, I did like the ending of the book and thought it concluded on a somewhat hopeful note. If you are interested in how the world of social media can affect young minds, Asthetica is worth checking out!
As a younger person who grew up with social media, I feel like I was definitely in the target demographic for this book and probably enjoyed it more because of that. I wasn't expecting it to be so heavy, but I thought Anna's relationship with her mother was really effective. I do wish the author would have gone deeper in some aspects.
It's wonderful to read with the context of social media. The author presents us a very unique modern world with a darker side of it to thrill, entertainment us till the last page. It would have been better if the author ventured a little more with the characterisation.
This book was very readable. It had an interesting premise. I felt for the character. That said, I always felt that the larger themes that this book was trying to engage with always seemed just beyond the grasp of the author. It plays with feminist critiques of beauty standards and social media, but it didn't read to me like it was written by someone who really understood social media. The criticisms that it leveled against influencer culture, seemed to cut the influencers themselves rather than the culture that made them possible. Overall, the statements that it made felt sort shallow and tired. The book shined most when it stayed close to its main character and her personal history. She became a caricature of a woman rather than remaining a woman whose full experience is seen as we moved further into the present timeline of the novel. I believe that may have been at least partially intentional, but it removed the depth from the messages that I believe the author was trying to convey.
To get right down to it: this will be a great vacation read. I wish the author had gone a little deeper, explored some points more. Excited to read more from Allie Rowbottom in the future
I am so thankful for the advance copy of Aesthetica by Allie Rowbottom. It might have taken me a bit longer to read, but that is on me. The book is an engaging story that really let me see into the lives of influencers. The ending kind of caught me off guard, but it was fitting. #Aesthetica #NetGalley
(ARC from NetGalley) Ok slightly horrifying dual timelines. We start off with Anna as a 35 year old on the eve of her “Aesthetica” procedure which will reverse every single procedure she’s had since age 19 in one go. At 19, she was an influencer willing to do anything for a sponsorship, the spotlight, attention— anything to be special. We learn about her complex relationship with her mother, the man that led her down this awful path and her own shallow view of feminism at a young age. Absolutely grotesque, dark and realistic (if you’ve ever had the dubious pleasure of encountering an influencer in the wild, you know). To the girlies in their 20s-30s that went through puberty with Instagram, this is for you.
I was surprised by how much heart and depth this had. I knew it would be zeitgeisty and I expected it to be fun, but it made me feel a lot of things about identity and family — a lot more than just the self-image I was expecting and kind of dreading. Worth it if you end up buying it just for the cover too :~)
This is a story about being influenced.
This wasn’t for me, but I absolutely see why it’s been a fit for a lot of readers. I couldn’t connect to the narrative- although that may have been purposeful? I’m still pondering if it was intended i I be off putting.
Thank you so much Netgalley & Soho Press!
Let's face it; not every novel will appeal to your personal tastes as a reader. "Aesthetica" is one that I thought I'd enjoy, but I didn't. I appreciate author Allie Rowbottom's effort in her debut novel, but it comes up short on characters and storyline. Perhaps it's because, at least for me, I'm tired of influencers and their so-called powers.
Protagonist Anna has reached adulthood, and she's ready to undo her past, including all the plastic surgeries she once felt were necessary for success. She wants one last procedure, one called Aesthetica, that will reverse all the previous physical manipulations. But she also has to face the pain she's inflicted on others.
This novel may appeal to readers who have grown up with social media and who are more accepting of it. For me, it's a "thanks, but no thanks!"
Disillusioned with the beauty world, Anna wants to revert to her true self and believes this procedure will set her on that path.
This literary fiction book has beautiful and evocative writing. The author discusses the compulsion to chase more likes, followers, and brand deals when Instagram was at its peak. It explores societal beauty standards, feminine rage, and abuse of power imbalances.
By: Allie Rowbottom
Eh. I mean I get it....the idea behind this book- the toxicity of social media. I just didn't feel like it delivered as strongly as it could have? Maybe.....?
Nineteen year old, Anna, is determined to be a Instagram star. Moving from Houston, to the starry-eyed sex, drugs and parties of LA, Anna becomes an IG model. Catching the eye of Jake, who becomes her manager/boyfriend, she instantly starts down the road of changing everything about herself.
Soon the photoshoots start to turn into something more sinister. Drugs leading to blackouts and waking up in pain with no recollection of what happened. Is fame worth this? Anna pulls away from this world and starts to recover from her toxic thinking.
Now at the age of 35, Anna is about to undergo a procedure called, Aesthetica. This high-risk surgery will reverse all of her past cosmetic surgeries. In doing so, she hopes to revert back to her old self. Basically, the lesson of her story is to not be disillusioned by the beauty world. Love yourself.
Published November 22, 2022
Thank you @netgalley and @soho_press for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!
This book was an interesting take on the influencer world and what happens when trying to be the perfect Instagram model goes too far. I thought the concept was unique and it drew me in, but the execution fell a bit flat. I wanted more exploration of the present day timeline to balance out the time we spent in the past, and I wanted to see the consequences/aftermath of the MC confronting her former manager.
Aesthetic: Concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty; a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement; Giving or designed to give pleasure through beauty; Of pleasing appearance.
Principles. Guiding. Designed. Pleasure. Notice a pattern? Allie Rowbottom plays host to the exploration of the filthy underbelly of the beauty industry in her debut novel "Aesthetica". Through the eyes of main character Anna, readers are guided through the hills and valleys of an influencer career, stained by the company she chooses. Alternating between the perspectives of past Anna, a young girl, fresh faced and just starting out, endless possibilities ahead of her, and present Anna, a woman wading through various regrets and memories, post career, taking steps now to undo previous damage, steps to becoming ANNA again. Will those steps be enough? As Anna's insecurities and perceived flaws pile up throughout the story, the procedures pile up with them, creating a giant London Bridge of a pedestal only created for one sole purpose: To fall.
"Aesthetica" is a horror saturated love letter to women. It's written to our very souls in both cautionary and gracefully understanding tones. Rowbottom accurately picks apart the extreme weight felt by trying to climb in an industry dominated by the opinions of strangers. She stretches the boundaries and comfort zones of her readers by presenting hard truths and impossible scenarios. She writes REAL LIFE into "Aesthetica" which is what makes this book so insanely terrifying, always asking WHAT'S NEXT when it can't seem to get much worse. "Aesthetica" is perfect.
Thanks again to Allie Rowbottom, Soho Press, and Netgalley for an absolutely INCREDIBLE experience. P.S. for all you other creeps like me who can't get enough of the Aesthetica, check out @annawrey . It's a whole A$$ trip!
A sharp look at influencer culture and female empowerment, the story is structured in two timelines: 19 year old Anna and 35 year old Anna. There’s some predictable aspects to the storyline and I feel that’s purposeful; younger Anna’s story is SO familiar and that’s part of what makes the latter half of the book and Anna’s later experiences powerful.
The writing is really beautiful and oddly enough it creates some distance between the character and the reader. This is a book I actually wish were longer because the ending feels abrupt in many ways and the decisions the character makes don’t quite make sense.
I am intrigued by this author and would definitely recommend this book, particularly to my students.
This book ended up being one of my favorite books of 2022. Aesthetica follows Anna through multiple times of her life. We see her as a young woman, fresh out of school and itching to start her life as an influencer. She thinks she has it made when she meets Jake - he has soooo many followers - and he can really set her up for the future lifestyle she deserves. But Instafam isn’t easy and soon Anna realizes just how much of herself she must give up to get those likes and followers.
Aesthetica really explores the dark side of social media and influencer culture. We live in a world now where it’s not unusual for people to share every aspect of their, but how much of that is real verses curated. The scenes that stick with me the most are Anna’s time with her mom in the hospital when she focuses not on her mother’s illness (it almost doesn’t seem real to her), but on how she can frame the narrative and present it to her followers.
Anna isn’t an incredibly likable main character, but I still felt my heart break for her over and over again. Her relationship with her childhood best friend Leah seemed to act as a tether to her past life before she cared about things like follower and like counts. It helped humanize her more to me and by the end I just wanted Anna to find peace and reclaim her self-worth. I wish we had seen more of her life after the procedure.
Thank you to Soho Press and NetGalley for a review copy. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
This book reminded me so much of Black Mirror and I'm here for it! It's a reminder of how social media can control our life, and I truly believe that the intrigue this book has given me is enough to recommend this to everyone. Please give this book a chance!