Social media has always been a hotly-debated topic ever since its inception in the twenty-first century, and its simultaneous evolution and devolution has been a cause of fascination for many. Delphine de Vigan is an award-winning writer whose new work Kids Run the Show explores that very concept – of how living your life and those of your loved ones in the public sphere can cause irreparable damage.
Kids Run the Show follows the split perspectives of two people – Melanie, a family-focused social media influencer, and Clara, a detective – as they both react to the sudden vanishing of Melanie’s young daughter. Such a premise is delightfully enticing and de Vigan ensures that we spend enough time with both of our leads to really explore the depths of their psyches. Clara is a focused cop with a family history and an inability of letting people behind her walls, while Melanie is a former reality-television reject whose romantic idealism has metastasised into a saccharine online persona, finding validation the only way she can, through the projected image of being a perfect mother.
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De Vigan’s strengths in character work drive home the narrative – those looking for a propulsive thriller about a disappeared child will be found wanting – as well as the overall themes about social media, family, and self-esteem. Unsubtle as these themes may be, there’s a prescience to them that will ring true whenever it is read; the book even jumps to the near future in a third-act narrative shift to emphasise this point and the long-lasting impact that such influencers have on their own families. De Vigan is certainly ripping from the headlines – one only has to look at the real-life scandals of ‘mumfluencers’ Clemmie Hooper or Ruby Franke to see how sinister acts can often be hidden in wholesome packaging.
While it’s a little blunt in its execution, Kids Run the Show is a razor-sharp exploration of social media through the lens of influencer culture, penned by a talented writer. While our collective relationship with social media continues to evolve and mutate over time, works such as Kids Run the Show prove a necessary fable of how things can so wrong if left unchecked. After all, don’t forget to like, retweet, and subscribe…
Kids Run the Show is out on 9th November from Europa Editions.