Rich Kids of Instagram is a Tumblr of, well, rich kids posing with their expensive stuff. Whether it’s yachts, sports cars, resorts or dropping $10,000 on cosmetics, the Tumblr recalls late-Roman excesses. It’s hard to tear my eyes away, and while I scrolled, I learned that some rich kids prefer humblebrag captions over their private jets and shopping sprees, while other prefer the more blatant #hatersgonnahate and middle fingers. Also, I learned that pools come in more styles than in-ground or above-ground. Who knew?
The upcoming novel Rich Kids of Instagram is written by the anonymous creator of the RKOI Tumblr and by Mara Sloan. Her previous novel is High Before Homeroom, just in case you’re wondering how curating a submission-based Tumblr will translate into writing a novel.
Rich Kids of Instagram is half Candace Bushnell’s Trading Up, half Petronius’ Dinner With Trimalchio. The characters are mostly unabashed social climbers, with a few old-money heirs and a tech wunderkind for frothy good measure. Their high-stakes, high-budget conflicts lead to a guilty-pleasure page-turner, with plenty of backstabbing, sex, and general excess.
All the characters are tropes, sure, but delightful ones. A tortured royal just wants to design his unique jewelry before heading home to his arranged marriage and more respectable hobbies. A sweet Southern belle deserves to get her way because she’s a good Christian girl — and definitely not because she backstabs her way to the top. Oh and a poor little rich girl wants Daddy’s attention, of course.
I once heard a certain style of New York City or Los Angeles dramatic fiction (Disclosure: I read the hell out of these novels.) as “lifestyle porn”, a tag that fits the almost loving descriptions of purchases and fashions in Rich Kids Of Instagram. One character has a particular strain of affluenza that requires her to touch and price luxury items to calm herself. It’s this unlikable excess that makes the novel impossible to put down.
Rich Kids of Instagram takes some wild turns and telenovela-style reverses of fortune, with loads of dark secrets. It’s difficult to find a relatable or likable character in the book, but that’s almost the point. Dinner With Trimalchio highlights excess, by pairing aspirational riches with classless freedmen, and goes on to describe truly pointless, hilarious waste. And RKOI takes a similar path by beginning with jealousy-inducing luxuries like champagne and jewelry, and then leading readers into a bizarre, over-the-top world of hostess kitty bars and Biblically themed launch parties.
Rich Kids of Instagram is a delightful romp through luxury brands, conspicuous consumption, and blatant social climbing.
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher to review. All opinions and references to chicklit and Roman history are, naturally, my own.