Review: Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

Title: Viral

Author: Helen Fitzgerald

Published: 4th February 2016, Faber & Faber

Status: Read February 2016 – Courtesy Faber/Netgalley

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

“I sucked twelve c*cks in Magaluf.

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety-six people have seen me do this. They might include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth-year biology teacher and my boyfriend of six weeks, James.”

Helen Fitzgerald pulls no punches from the first line of this book, a contemporary novel that explores the consequences of a drunken indiscretion gone viral.

Su Oliphant-Brotheridge and her sister Leah, are celebrating the end of A-Level exams in Magaluf when a few too many drinks on their last evening abroad, results in Su on her knees in a nightclub. When a recording of the incident is uploaded to the internet, Su panics and goes into hiding, hoping not only to avoid, but also to protect her family from, the worst of the inevitable notoriety.

“#shagaluf is trending worldwide on Twitter. If you type the word slut into Google, I am the first news item to appear.”

It’s a nightmare scenario for any parent. To their credit, Su’s parents -Ruth and Bernie, are more concerned for their daughter’s wellbeing than shaming her for her mistake. Even as it begins to affect their own professional and personal lives, they frantically attempt to minimise the fallout which threatens to derail Su’s future. When it’s clear they losing the battle, Ruth, a court judge, grows increasingly furious that no one can be held legally accountable for the viral video that has caused such destruction, and takes matters into her own hands.

“Xano, you have been found guilty of filming the sexual assault of my daughter. You have been found guilty of sharing abusive images. You have been found guilty of sharing lewd images without consent. You have been found guilty of destroying the life of Su Brotheridge-Oliphant. Guilty of destroying her self-image, her confidence, her friendships, her past and future relationships, her sexual well-being, her career, and her entire future. In relation to destroying my career: guilty. My life, everything I’ve worked for, fought for, and loved: guilty. And last, on the count of the murder of Bernard Brotheridge: guilty.”

Meanwhile, Leah is ordered to find her sister and bring her home. Fitzgerald explores the troubled dynamic between the sisters as they wrestle with feelings of resentment, jealousy, guilt, and blame.

“I’ve spent years pussyfooting around you and all you’ve done is treat me like dirt. Did you spike my drink because your friends started liking me, Leah? Were you mad about that? You feel left out, that the order of the universe was shaken? Did you shout “go, go go” because you wanted me back in my place, because it was such a blast to watch me ruin myself?“

But this is really Su’s story as she tries to reconcile what she has done with who she is. It’s a compelling narrative which I thought Fitzgerald presented well…until the last few chapters.

“Don’t let it be the thing that defines you.”

I understood Su’s desire to search for her birth mother, but finding her was ridiculously easy, and the situation devolved from there. Similarly Su’s flight of fancy, after her return to Magaluf, was a bit silly.

Aside from those final missteps, I thought this was a well paced, thought provoking and relevant novel. Not her best, but I found it engaging.

++++++

Available to Purchase via

Faber & Faber I Waterstones I Booko I Indiebound

Also by Helen Fitzgerald on Book’d Out

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer
    Apr 19, 2019 @ 04:09:50

    Relevant subject matter. We often joke we spent our youth when every mistake and regrettable moment wasn’t documented on social media.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. fictionalblonde
    Apr 19, 2019 @ 05:54:25

    Wow what a topic for a book, especially in these times! Great review and thanks for introducing me to this author.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer
    Apr 19, 2019 @ 06:44:01

    WOW! This seems really relevant for today. I know there are alot of other shady things that can totally derail your career too. So its a real danger. Sounds like it makes you think. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Mystica
    Apr 21, 2019 @ 01:26:33

    Relevant definitely.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | book'd out

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