Some people who know me might be surprised to know that I’ve always wanted to go to Comic Con. My friend and I talked about going one year, but it’s quite the trek to get from Toronto to San Diego, so we’ve never been able to get there. I wouldn’t call myself strictly part of nerd culture—I’m not really into anime, for example, but I do enjoy certain shows and movies that have achieved cult status—but when I saw that Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala took place in a cross between Comic Con and Project Runway, I knew I had to read it. I had heard really good things about Reverie, La Sala’s other novel, as well, so I trusted there would be good bones to this story. And, you know I love a good YA romance.
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.
This book had some ups and downs for me, but ultimately I ended up liking it a lot. I had a hard time picturing Evie and Raffy’s relationship because it really was intense, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t believable—I just had a hard time connecting with it. I also generally liked the way the chapters alternated between the past and the present, but I felt that the present was more or less resolved before you got to the crux of the problem in the past, so it was hard for me to get as involved in Raffy and Luca’s story together—and same with Raffy and Inaya’s falling out. And then, ultimately, the stakes weren’t really that high for any of it.
Despite all of this, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The Next In Fashion-meets-Comic Con setting was original and added a level of geek to the story that I really appreciated. And even though I wasn’t familiar with all of the characters they were crafting, it was really easy to look up and not feel like you were missing anything.
I’d recommend this novel to anyone who likes to read YA romance (there’s a HEA, after all), queer romance, complicated parent-child relationships, or if you’re part of nerd culture and really enjoy the cosplay part of comic con. There’s a little something for everyone.
“The kiss ends like all my projects: amazing and whole, the fragments of many moments joined together to create something entirely alive and real. Something incredible, out of nothing.”—Ryan La Sala, Be Dazzled
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the advanced copy, and to Chatree Petjan on StockSnap for the featured photo.