Author Alex Tsiatsos has woven a complex and unsettling tale with M’S CELEBRITY, tapping into contemporary culture’s passion for celebrity and aggressively critiquing the way we fawn over the famous. The story unfolds through a first-person narrator, Steven, who becomes enthralled by the man he refers to as “M.” Steven comes across as a blank canvas, and it is understandable that he falls under the spell of M’s intense views on beauty and fame.
The primary target of M’s energies is movie star Amanda Karlestone, who is known for her glamour as well as for her arguably insincere “good heart.” As Steven and M’s relationship grows, so does their single-minded focus on Amanda, who for much of the story is oblivious to activities that eventually grow into full-fledged stalking. The author maintains the intensity of the novel’s plotting throughout its duration, although M’s verbose philosophical tirades can become tiresome and repetitive.
The novel bravely dives into the world of Internet trolls, and powerfully captures the cadence and absorption of the online commenters that have become such a significant part of today’s information consumption. While so much of the book centers on the characters’ state of mind – both Steven’s and M’s mental states are an absolute roller coaster – the author never skimps on details of various settings, demonstrating a true knack for creating a sense of space. The apartments, tents, parking lots, and other spaces where the book’s drama unfolds feel consistently claustrophobic, which adds to the intensity as the characters interact.
While M’s CELEBRITY is marketed as literary fiction, it is actually more of a dark thriller, and in its final pages it becomes an absolute page turner. The book’s disillusionment with morally bankrupt celebrity culture is understandable, but by the end of the book his aggression toward Amanda has transitioned from quirky fascination to disturbing and even violent. It is a bold choice to develop a novel in which none of the characters are particularly “good” or likable, and the choice does not always work for M’S CELEBRITY. For those who can push through its tougher passages, however, the book is unapologetic and completely unique.
Offering an in-depth examination of one man’s descent into his own intense philosophical manifesto, M’S CELEBRITY is meant for readers seeking an out of the ordinary thriller.
~Jennifer Dixon for IndieReader