pop goes the culture

Internet addict Holly Danner is not your ordinary Redditor. She is a master of trivia about the ‘90s PBS show “Diego and the Lion’s Den.” The show is famous not only for its cheesy, contrived situations (it’s about a group of orphans living at the San Diego Zoo while working on getting their band together) or for its use of animal trivia and outdated songs (they were in the public domain). It was also famous because every cast member except one became a megastar, either a member of a world-famous band, or an award-winning actor, or the star of their own television series.

That one cast member who never found fame after the show? Holly Danner.

The castmates are all getting back together for their 25th reunion, and Holly wasn’t invited. So she started stalking them online. She created an AMA on Reddit to answer questions about the show. And she got so obsessed with her internet obsession that she forgot about everything else. She lost her job and found herself at Prevail!, a new rehab center for internet addicts.

It’s at Prevail! that Holly meets Thom Parker, a snarky know-it-all who gets under Holly’s skin but shares her hatred for any flavor of Tato Skins other than the original. And when the reunion gets moved up and he is her only way to New York, where she can crash the party and find out why her friends neglected to invite her, then Holly has to swallow her pride and ask for Thom’s help to get across the country to confront her famous former friends.

Fame Adjacent is as much fun as stumbling over an old box of Tiger Beats and VHS tapes of the shows you watched as a kid. It has hearty helpings of fake pop culture that feel so real you think you could stumble across “Diego and the Lion’s Den” streaming on Hulu, or at least on YouTube.

While author Sarah Skilton does look at some important questions about how the internet can disrupt a life and what happens when you peak at 11 career-wise, otherwise the book doesn’t dig too deep into the human situation. It’s a charming, funny, cotton candy fueled trip back to middle school, and as long as you don’t expect it to be much more than that, you’re set for a very good ride. Entertaining and enchanting, Fame Adjacent would be a great bubblegum book for the beach or pool!

Galleys for Fame Adjacent were provided by Grand Central Publishing through NetGalley, with many thanks.