I’m pretty sure everyone has wanted their viral moment. Everyone has done something cool or cringy or memeable that, if it were recorded, you would find your place among the internet stars and join the ranks of that blinking white guy or the kid that says “It’s an avocado!” Maybe you’ll become a massive reaction gif! Who knows!
As frequent as memes change and how quickly viral moments come and go, the chances are better now for anyone to become ~internet~famous~. Honestly, that’s kind of a goal of mine, get super internet famous and just get paid to, like, play video games all day. But, I digress.
Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park is essentially about a viral video. While making a pan of brownies for a livestream, Sunny spills something on her shirt. Thinking the stream has been turned off, she takes off her shirt. But, gasp, the stream was still going. Then she goes viral from such an embarrassing faux pas! Twitter is trending with hashtags like #BrowniePorn! What will happen to Sunny?!
(I have to say here that this is an incredibly contrived situation that would never actually go viral IRL and it really took me out of the book for a bit.)
This is the second time Sunny has gone viral, the first being when she was a wee babe and her mom took a picture of her with goggles on and she became #GoggleGirl? I dunno, it didn’t make sense to me, but, given how weird the early internet was, it absolutely could have been a meme. Now that I think about it, it may be a reference to Success Kid, but I couldn’t tell you. Also, if you want to talk about early 2010s internet memes, I’m your guy.
Basically, her parents and principal find out about it. The principal says she will be expelled unless she completes a month long retreat to “detox” from her technology. It’s in a little state called Iowa. Yeah, buddy, Iowa, my homestate, land of corn and apparently internet detox camps. Of course, she is sent to the camp. However, right before she leaves, she is revealed to be one of the candidates to fill a spot in an influencer house, which is one of those things that I just don’t understand because I’m almost 30. The final deadline for submission is during the camp, so Sunny’s manager is taking up the task of posting daily and all that jazz.
Once at the camp, she meets a cute boy and, because it is a YA romance and this is the first boy we have actually met, she falls in love with him. Shenanigans ensue.
Okay, I may seem like I was being a bit of a butt, but I genuinely enjoyed this book. It’s cute and funny and I really liked how they represented Iowa. A lot of books make it out to be a hick state, but Park does a great job of showing that Iowans are (generally) smart and caring people who learn from their mistakes. There was a scene about casual racism towards Asians (which is a horribly rampant issue) and, by the end, it’s rectified in a genuinely good manner.
Now, as much as I enjoyed the book, I hated two specific things about it. 1. It was incredibly preachy in parts. There are a couple scenes where you can tell it’s actually Park talking and not Sunny, especially when it comes to technology use. And 2. The ending. Man, the ending was bad. It actually brought my rating down a whole star. Now, I’m sure that others are going to like the ending and I don’t blame them. There is definitely a message however… interesting it may be.
Sunny Song is a really fun book with some genuinely funny and heartbreaking moments and, if you can get past the preachy “phone bad” parts of the book, it’s a really solid read. 3.5/5, 7/10.
You can pick up Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park at your favorite indie bookstore on June 1st, 2021.
Thanks Netgalley for the eARC!