REVIEW: Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

The Official Description: Who’s ready to sparkle??

Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making–for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything–and everyone–else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store–or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Just the facts: Queer YA, cosplay, coming out, be-dazzling!

This book is every bit as campy and glorious as I needed it to be. Someone is coming out, someone is struggling to win a cosplay con, ex-boyfriends, challenging bffs… and it’s written by one of my fave authors! – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Because I had high hopes for this book, I had avoided reading much about it so I read it with a completely open mind. And, I absolutely loved it! There’s nothing about this book that I didn’t enjoy, there’s a lot that made me laugh, there’s a bit that made me cry, and a lot that made me feel like Raffy is my idol!

Raffy is a young man with a talent for creating other-worldly cosplay. He’s creative, imaginative, and has never met a sparkle he didn’t love (if it’s in the correct shade of seafoam). Raffy is heading to the penultimate convention for cosplayers and he intends to win. With his friend May by his side… he doesn’t even have time to worry about the fact that he was supposed to be there with his ex-boyfriend, Luca Vitale.

In beautifully placed flashbacks, La Sala unveils the year-long relationship between Raffy and Luca. From the early days of their own meet-cute to their parting of the ways… they have the kind of relationship that makes a YA book. It’s adorable, it’s tough, there are mistunderstandings and mistakes…and it’s real.

Raffy is a bit of a drama queen… and I loved him. This character is epic and much more than I even knew that I needed. I loved La Sala’s forays into Raffy’s mind. His anxiety ratchets up as he gets further into each build…and it’s not without cause. Raffy’s mother is an artist.. and has some very definite ideas about what qualifies as art. She’s quite certain that cosplay is … crafting. Crafting is not art. But Raffy can’t contain his hot glue gunning and be-dazzling! He’s creative, and it’s art to him!

Luca … oh Luca. What a bundle of joy and sweetness with a lot going on in his sweet head. Luca is a soccer player who has attempted to tell his parents that he’s bisexual. They don’t want to hear it and Luca is struggling with coming out… becoming himself… knowing what he wants public and what he wants to keep private.

It’s rare to read a book that can be this over-the-top and yet still feel authentic at the same time. I loved the characters, and La Sala really has captured the cosplay commitment and competitive spirit of cons. I think what is fantastic about this book is the way that all the characters are fighting to be their authentic selves. Maybe they’re not doing it very gracefully, maybe they are making huge mistakes, but they’re trying… and really that’s all we can do when it comes down to it.

This book is a gem. La Sala has a wonderful voice whether he’s writing a fantasy with a serious side… or a humorous romance. This is an author to watch. And please, if I can convince you of one thing… follow Ryan La Sala on twitter. You will not regret it.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Be Dazzled  by Ryan La Sala from Sourcebooks Fire via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.

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