Disconcerting ... Takes this lopsided, obsessive and desperate dynamic to unsettling depths, exploring what happens when an initially parasocial relationship becomes social — and sexual ... Short, propulsive chapters ... Patel has made a book that is tough to look at, yet equally tough to look away from.
Self-consciously trendy and youthful ... The book adopts the clichés of buzzy contemporary fiction: There is the fragmentary form and unmoored millennial protagonist, but also the brief, obligatory detour into bisexuality ... The narrative is presented in disjointed first-person entries, feverish Notes App-style confessions with cutesy online catchphrases for titles ... Could it be that some of the other excesses in I’m a Fan are also by design ... But there are too many haphazard elements to be excused as the realistic expressions of an imperfect character, and the book’s deviations into cultural criticism and shopping reportage often distract from its compelling story about the complexities of desire. On social media and on the page, the performance of imperfection can get you only so far.
An impolite novel about romantic obsession ... The novel is claustrophobic in theme but its style is loose, allowing the narrator’s ferocious id to spin out thrillingly and unapologetically. Her vague aspirations to become a writer register as somewhat cursory next to the attention suck of the narrator’s romantic abjection; Patel’s clever novel suggests just how easily such ambitions can be lost in the power imbalance of heterosexual libidinal attachment.
The narrator is defined by her lack of self-knowledge, but she is intensely knowledgeable about that lack of knowledge. Her sophisticated helplessness reminded me of the fin-de-siècle decadents who rhapsodized about the life-destroying pleasures of opium. If you’ve ever worried about the dangerous addictiveness of Instagram and TikTok, this uncomfortable novel won’t convince you otherwise.
Corrosive, brilliant ... It would be a disservice to call I’m a Fan a social-media novel, because the plot is so much more ramified and vital than the cold flat surface of a screen would allow for ... What makes I’m a Fan so successful is the protagonist’s ability to interpret and critique the toxicity of these structures even as she is caught inside them.
A fast, fizzing cherry bomb of a debut by Sheena Patel, mining the darkest depths of coercion, seduction and abuser dynamics. It has the urgency of a diary, mixed with a certain hard and sharp clarity ... Well-observed ... This is a novel centred around voice, and Patel’s is unique and powerful.
Trenchant ... At times...the barrage of barbs creates a wearying air of cynicism. Still, Patel acutely captures how identity and intimacy can feel both deepened and deadened in the Instagram era’s attention economy.