I Was Born for This is my first novel by Alice Oseman that I’ve read, and I absolutely adored it. I’ve heard countless incredible things about this story, and I found not knowing anything about this story going in to it was the best thing to do. I was surprised about how much I loved it, how much it lifted me from a reading slump and how happy i felt reading it.
If you’re unaware, the story follows Angel (if you don’t want to know anything about the plot, stop reading now). She’s in the summer between college and university and lives for the band The Ark. The band is made up of three boys, all lovable, all incredibly diverse, all young and all attractive. Girls scream over them, adore them and throw themselves at the boys, imagine early years One Direction, that kind of fame. Angel finally gets chance to see the band live when she meets up with her online friend of two years, Juliet. Unknown to Angel, she makes more friends than she expects and has a very different experience with The Ark than she ever imagined.
I feel as though I could rave about I Was Born for This forever, but I will try to keep the praise to a minimum and this review as short as possible. There were a few things in the book that I feel were done outstandingly (admittedly that I wasn’t expecting). Cultural representation was one of them. Angel is Muslim, an aspect to this book I wasn’t expecting. But Alice wrote this wonderfully and with such respect. So many YA novels point out clearly when a character is not white and British, however Angel’s faith was blended in to the story so well. There were mention of prayer, the occasional mention of clothes but you just imagined her as a regular teenage girl who loved a band, which is what she was. This truly made me happy.
Also the representation of gender and sexuality was incredibly interesting to me in this story. In the band it seems as though Rowen is straight, Lister is bisexual and Jimmy is gay. I loved the fact that all these sexualities were covered under one book in a very realistic way. It didn’t feel forced that each boy had a different sexuality, they just felt like honestly one of my own friendship groups. Also Angel’s sexuality is not mentioned a great deal, but she gives hints of being asexual or bisexual, which is a refreshing change for an English girl in a YA book. Just a little mention to the gender too, Jimmy is transgender and that addition to the story brought some interesting talk in regards of the band and fans etc. It was such a lovely addition that just added a little more reality.
You cannot talk about I Was Born for This without discussing the fandom aspects. The whole book is about finding out who you are through your love of a boyband, a feeling that I know all too well. It’s about the ‘secret’ parts of a fandom, the fanfiction, the shipping and all the parts that the general public have no idea about. The way these are written are so respectful to teenage girls that still are experiencing this love, yet are shedding some light on the fact that a fandom isn’t always going to be your one and only love, an important fact that i definitely wish i’d have learned when i was a teenager. It felt real and raw and exactly how i remember my teenage years being. I’m so glad that this novel was released when i was older so i could reflect on that time of my life.
Alice also has a way of making the characters familiar to everyone. From the start I felt connected to each and every character that was introduced and really enjoyed reading about every single one of them. By the end I could imagine staying with Juliet and even struggled to believe that The Ark weren’t a real band. It might have been the way I connected with the fandom aspects of the story, but I adored the character build up and the way they were introduced with such ease. This out of everything makes me the most excited to read her other novels.
I Was Born for This felt like reading really addictive fanfiction; everyone should experience it.