Skip to main content

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala: YA Book Review

 Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala 

Overview: Raffy is one of the most talented cosplayers in Boston. He knows how to sew, bedazzle, conceptualize, and execute intricate costumes that allow him to embody his favorite characters at conventions. Despite having an artistic mother, she looks down on his pursuits as childish and a waste of time. Raffy is driven and determined despite the lack of support, and his focus doesn't wane until Luca stumbles into his life. Buff and a soccer player, Luca looks like the last person Raffy wants to befriend, but Luca is drawn into Raffy's cosplaying world despite having to hide the hobby (and Raffy himself) from his parents. Unfolding on duel timelines, we follow Raffy and Luca's journey falling in and out of love and maybe back in over the course of one of Boston's biggest comic cons. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 I identified with Raffy deeply. He's anxious and determined and lonely but also scared of letting others in. Raffy is secure in himself, but he doesn't leave much room for other people. He has a best friend, May, and other friends from the cosplay world, but he's not keen on letting people interfere with his work time. He's meticulous, and he's good at what he does because of it. Still, his anxiety when everything isn't going totally to plan is a bit overbearing. His relationship with his eccentric mother is basically nonexistent, and they tiptoe around each other as Raffy hides his "arts and crafts" from her. This rigidity and perfectionism is what makes Luca's attitude such a stark shift in his life. 

Luca is a soccer player and absolutely gorgeous. He also loves anime and is curious about cosplay, two things forbidden in his house. He's already figured out he's bi, and his mom sort of knows, but it's a contentious topic in his house. Luca is as carefree and laid back as Raffy is anxious and precise. He's both Raffy's worst nightmare in the workshop and exactly what he needs to stop taking everything quite so life and death seriously. Though Luca mostly succeeds at getting Raffy to have more fun as they start to fall for one another, when things go south, Raffy's prior beliefs about shutting everyone out being a virtue are confirmed. I really love how their relationship progressed and taught each boy different lessons that morphed and changed along with their status. I also loved that Luca got to come into his own so much as the book progressed. 

There's also an important friendship story that unfolds over the course of the book between Raffy and May. In the present timeline, May steps in as Raffy's cosplay partner after he splits with Luca. May is a talented artist, and she's already developed her own comic. She understands and manages Raffy's anxiety quite well, but she also knows how to draw the line between making him feel secure and protecting her own wants and desires. Over the stressful weekend at Controverse, Raffy also learns a lot about friendship.

Plot: 5 The book is quite intricately plotted. The present day timeline takes place over the weekend of Controversy so it's almost like a single day condescend narrative. It's aided by the alternating past chapters that allow us to watch Raffy in a neutral state pre-Luca and understand the rises and falls that happen in the year following their meeting. Each past chapter only amplifies the tension in the present, and there wasn't a timeline I was skimming to keep reading like I sometimes do. The chapters lock in nicely, and it's a tightly plotted story. I finished the book mostly in three sittings. The stakes and tension were high enough that there wasn't ever tempted to put the book down. The emotional stakes and character development met the action perfectly, which is definitely a feat few books accomplish. 

Writing: 4 Ryan has a super distinct voice in his writing, which, if you follow him on Twitter, won't be a surprise. His word choice is so bright and glittery and specific. There are moments when it boarders on over the top, but it always manages to stay in the right lane. It's definitely something that you sink into more and more as you read the book, though it's a touch jarring at the beginning. I love so many aspects of this book. Conventions are my all time favorite book settings ever. I get so excited when I get to pick those up. I also love that this dug into the world of cosplay, something I've always been fascinated by but never got into. If you follow Ryan, you know he practically bleeds glitter with all the crafting he does, so all the technical explanations that Raffy gives feels authentic and well researched. He balances cluing the reader into the world enough and giving enough detail to create a clear vision without overwhelming the casual reader. Also, the book has another element that I love: small time social media fame. While it's not central to the book, Raffy has around ten thousand followers on streaming platform Ion where he crafts and chats with people watching. It's a nice touch and makes sense with Raffy's personality. As a last point, I love that Luca is bi. While I've read a couple 2021 books with bi girls (which is awesome), I hadn't encountered a bi guy character in YA, so I was thrilled this one has been added to the mix. Overall, the book felt relatable, down to earth, and like a fun peak into a different world. It manages to be an escapist contemporary novel. 

More Like This 

Look

Ship It

Eliza and Her Monsters

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon: YA Book Review

Super Fake Love Song  by David Yoon Overview: Sunny Dae is sick of his California neighborhood where everyone pretends to be something they're not to keep up with all the other rich families. He's happy in his own world, LARPing with his friends, even if he gets made fun of for it at school. That is until Cirrus comes into the picture. She's undeniably cool and he's undeniably a loser in everyone's eyes, so he finds a new personality. He borrows a life from the coolest person he used to know, his older brother Gray, who's on his way to becoming a rockstar. Of course, lies like that always fall apart, and the music industry is unforgiving. It's a long fall from the top. Overall: 3  Characters: 3 This is the weirdest book I've ever read, which I'll get into more later. One part of that is the book is basically only told in details. You'd think this would help with characterization, but so many characters are left completely flat. Sunny is unashamed

My Most Anticipated of 2021/2021 ARC TBR

  A few days ago, I put out a list of my favorite books of the year that I couldn't stop talking about all year long. Now I'm here to introduce you to a brand new slate of books that I'm predicting will make my favorites list next year. These are the books I can't wait to get my hands on because they sound absolutely amazing! I've decided to separate the list into an ARC TBR so far for 2021 of ARCs I have and then to make a wishlist section below that with ARCs I hope to get or books that I'll splurge to buy. I'll include preorder links to the books that are already up for preorder so that you can easily grab a couple surprise gifts to show up throughout the year if any of these books look exciting! These will be affiliate bookshop links which means shopping the links support the blog at no cost to you. Also, if you're looking for even more 2021 books, Rachel and Vicky made the most amazing database/spreadsheet/blog to collect all the 2021 debuts togethe

evermore book tag!

As you probably know, I absolutely adore Taylor Swift, and I recently did a folklore book tag, so I figured I should make a version of evermore as well! If you want to read that post, you can find it here . And if you want all my thoughts on folklore, you can watch my original folklore reaction on my YouTube channel here.   I'm so happy to have found an evermore book tag I loved created by  Star Is All Booked Up ! That post is linked (I really enjoyed it!), and those are the prompts I'm using here.  In this tag, I just talked about books for the prompts and didn't get into the songs. If you want more of my evermore thoughts specifically, check out my blog post of favorite lyrics here and my new reaction to evermore here . You can also scroll to the bottom of the post to watch the video as well. If you want to know more about any of the books I mention, all of their titles are linked to my review.  I hope you love the post, and let me know your favorite evermore songs in the

The Best, The Brightest, The Totally Biased List of my Favorite Books of 2020

 Welcome to my big list of 2020 favorites! Usually, I do this award show style and give out different awards in a variety of categories I made up. This year is a little different because it's 2020, and I'm out of brain power to think of categories. These books appear in no particular order, and I selected them purely based on which books are still in my head months after I read them. I didn't read nearly as many books this year as usual, but I think I managed to read more books that I fell head over heels for than ever. Publishing a book this year is a major accomplishment in itself, so these authors all deserve extra rounds of applause for launching their books into an uncertain world, and even if a book from this year doesn't make a list, it's still incredible for existing. Even though I've already talked everyone's ears off about these books all year long, I'm going to do it one more time because they got me through both a hard and hectic year and pro

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant: YA Book Review

  Happily Ever Afters  by Elise Bryant  Overview: Tessa gets the writing opportunity of her dreams, but her words run out at the same time. While she can't wait to take a novel writing class at her new school, the idea of sharing her work with anyone but her best friend, Caroline, makes her unable to keep writing, even for herself. Caroline devises a plan to get her to fall in love so that she can jumpstart her creative juices for the romances Tessa writes herself into. Real life inspiration is clearly not the answer, and Tessa is left even further from the answer to all of her problems. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 While I knew this book was going to have a kind of forced dating situation as Tessa tried to get this boy to fall for her, I didn't predict the love triangle till I started reading. I'm not going to fault Bryant for using a love triangle because everyone does it, but I do have to note that these characters fall into the unfortunate side effect of most love triangles

Positions Book Tag

Today, I'm sharing a new book tag created by Cielo over at Bellerose Reads who tagged me in her new Positions book tag. I love working on book tags inspired by pop music, so I was thrilled to get the tag. If I'm being totally honest, I wasn't super into Positions, Ariana Grande's latest album. I'm much more of a Thank U Next fan because that album was far more lyrically focused. Positions reminds me a lot of Sweetener. I do like "POV", the closing track of the album. Still, I'm super excited to share the tag because these are some of the best tag questions I've ever seen. Cielo did a wonderful job coming up with really cool prompts. I had a blast thinking of books that fit them. As always, just click the book title to read my review of any of the books I mentioned. And don't forget to read the original tag here .    shut up – a book you couldn’t shut up about  There are way too many. Honestly, a ton of them are already sprinkled through this po

This Will Be Funny Someday by Katie Henry: YA Book Review

  This Will Be Funny Someday  by Katie Henry Overview: Izzy is sick of being 16. She's sick of being the "easy kid" who never causes a problem for the family or demands attention. Her mom is always busy working at her law firm, and her dad just isn't super invested. School is awful, and her controlling boyfriend makes her question what it means to be in love. And then she stumbles into a bar on comedy night, and suddenly, she finds a world so different from her own- one that's better. Though it requires maintaining more than a few lies, this new life with her college friends is too good to give up. That is, until it all comes crashing down. About growing up, being your authentic self, and navigating intense relationships for the first time, this book is incredibly relatable and quite unique in the way it approaches common YA questions. Overall: 5 Characters: 5 I relate to Izzy on a deep, deep level. From the second I read the synopsis, I knew the book was going to

Wrapping Up 2020: How'd My Reading/Blogging Go This Year

 It feels weird writing a year end post, which is probably why we're almost a week into the new year and I still haven't posted one yet. 2020 was such a hard year for the world and a weird one for me personally, and it still feels far from over. From a reading perspective, there were parts of the year that were super strong and others where I hardly picked up a book. I started the year working at a bookstore which, contrary to popular belief, made me read less than usual. I had a good run during lockdown and through the summer (though that certainly had ups and downs too), and then I started my first semester of college. That created a serious reading slump, though it wasn't like I stopped reading! In one class alone, I had 1,000 pages of reading saved in my class notebook. All the academic reading replaced my fun books, and there were moments where I honestly thought I hated reading. I wondered what was wrong with me and if I was just done with that part of my life. Over b