Book Review: Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Be Dazzled

Author: Ryan La Sala

Publication Date: 05 January 2021

Genre: YA – Contemporary Romance

Pages: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

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.

Be Dazzled is a funny and whimsical coming of age story that is unapologetically queer. Touted as Project Runway goes to Comic Con, I was a bit apprehensive as to what to expect with this story since my knowledge of both fashion and Comic Con is basic to say that least. That being said, no real knowledge of either is needed to enjoy this absolute gem of a story. 

Raphael ‘Raffy’ Odom thrives on competitive cosplay. He even has his own streaming channel to give intimate insight into his costume builds. What Raffy doesn’t have is a mother who support him, so he resorts to creating in secret. Raffy refuses to let his mom get him down and has his eyes set on winning Controverse. The only problem? The boy who broke his heart is competing as well. AWKWARD. 

I absolutely loved Raffy as a character. He’s hilarious and so confident in himself and his abilities even when faced with dissenting opinions from those who care about him. Raffy’s passion for cosplay and building his constructions was infectious. The author did a really fantastic job immersing us until this world. 

The scenes with Raffy and Luca together were adorable. I loved their meet-cute in the hobby store. The two of them really balanced each other out in terms of personality and creative differences. One thing that I want to highlight is that the fear of Luca coming out as bisexual to his family is addressed and that these scenes may be potentially triggering. 

The actual competition surrounding Controverse was really fascinating. I always enjoyed the turned up drama and theatrics. 

One last thing, I hated Raffy’s mom. Ugh. You’d think that one creative would support another, especially when it is your child, but her pretentious behavior and actions constantly got under my skin. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a story that just wraps you up in a hug…this is it!

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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