There Are No Cheat Codes for Showmance
Seventeen-year-old gaymer Noah Mitchell only has one friend left: the wonderful, funny, strictly online-only MagePants69. After years playing RPGs together, they know everything about each other, except anything that would give away their real life identities. And Noah is certain that if they could just meet in person, they would be soulmates. Noah would do anything to make this happen—including finally leaving his gaming chair to join a community theater show that he’s only mostly sure MagePants69 is performing in. Noah has never done anything like theater—he can’t sing, he can’t dance, and he’s never willingly watched a musical—but he’ll have to go all in to have a chance at love.
With Noah’s mum performing in the lead role, and former friends waiting in the wings to sabotage his reputation, his plan to make MagePants69 fall in love with him might be a little more difficult than originally anticipated.
And the longer Noah waits to come clean, the more tangled his web of lies becomes. By opening night, he will have to decide if telling the truth is worth closing the curtain on his one shot at true love.
📘 funny and sweet
THE GOOD BITS
Take A Bow, Noah Mitchell is a wonderful addition to the world of Queer YA. I was particularly fond of Madden’s authenticity when I first discovered his writing. The language he chooses, the erratic and often entertaining thought patterns, the mistakes, the drama… it all reads as very real teen experience. That’s important to me. I feel there are a lot of books in the genre these days that have more adult voices, or voices that read as an adult trying to “sound” like a young person. This book reads as truly authentic. To swipe a quote from the book, “if you know, you know.”
Noah is a bit of a wreck and I still managed to adore him. With the exception of an adoring older sister, Noah has a sad family life. His parents are distant from one another and disinterested in him at best. School life is challenging as he’s being bullied pretty constantly. It seems that it’s been happening so often that he has almost incorporated it into his daily existence. He doesn’t see it as out-of-the-ordinary – it’s just something that happens to him constantly.
The one place that Noah is happy is online gaming. He (RcticF0x) has been meeting up with MagePants69 online for a long time playing a massive campaign on “Spire of Dusk” and they have shared a lot of things together. What they haven’t shared though are their real names and an in-person greeting. MagePants69’s mom has rules about these kinds of things and they aren’t allowed to meet people they game with.
I liked the way that Madden described the online gaming world. It can be very real to people, and I would argue that online relationships are as concrete as those that happen in person. Making the leap to “real life” can be a challenge though… and things may not go the way we hope.
When Noah’s mother enlists his help as an extra cast member in the local production of Chicago – he pieces together that MagePants online may well be part of the same cast! Thus begins his commitment to the musical!
Interestingly, when Noah finally thinks he has met his online gaming friend he chooses not to reveal his identity. I know that some people are uncomfortable reading about lying, but it felt to me like something I would have done when I was Noah’s age. (I actually KNOW I lied; don’t judge me.) Noah’s reasons for keeping his identity a secret … are a secret. Let me explain. Madden gives Noah a back story – something happened in Noah’s past that has challenged the way he makes decisions about truth-telling. I really enjoyed reading along as the mystery of his past break-up with a best friend was revealed slowly throughout the course of the novel. I could really feel the way he got tangled about making each decision to tell one more, tiny, lie and how the weight of it was adding up.
There is a lot of cute and adorable in this. Of note – one of the best “first-time” sex scenes I’ve ever read. I won’t ruin it, I’ll let you read it. It’s fade to black, but I loved the way Madden wrote the interaction and the feelings sweeping Noah up.
Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) underage drinking, intense peer pressure, lying, vomiting, infidelity (not MCs), body shaming, discussion re: child pornography
I received an ARC of Take A Bow, Noah Mitchell by Tobias Madden from Page Street via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.