Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala is a charming queer love story that is pitched as Project Runway meets Comic Con. As a big fan of Project Runway myself, I loved the elements of competition the book has to offer. The main character, Raffy, is passionate about his work, and the descriptions of his creations are vivid. I would recommend this one to those looking for a quirky and heartfelt contemporary.

Be Dazzled by Ryan La SalaTitle: Be Dazzled
Author: Ryan La Sala
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
Rating: three-half-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

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❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃

Review: Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

This is such a fun story that follows Raffy, a cosplay creator who is competing in a cosplay competition in hopes of getting a shot at going to art school. However, at the competition, he learns that he will be competing against his ex-boyfriend, who learned everything from Raffy and happened to show up with one of Raffy’s designs. The story is told through alternating timelines–present date and the past, when Luca and Raffy were together–and I enjoyed getting to see their relationship develop. I didn’t love the dual timelines at first, but they provide interesting insight into the events of the competition. This book also has big Project Runway vibes, and I loved the tension of the competition.

❀ Realistic Main Character

Raffy is a realistic character, and he is easy to root for. He is so passionate about his art, and I loved how he takes pride in his work despite what others (especially his mother who is an artist herself) think. Importantly, he also has his flaws. He can be self-centred at times, which can be a bit frustrating to read, but does make him more believable. Ultimately, I enjoyed his voice and getting to experience the competition with him.

❀ Cosplay Enhances the Story

One of the book’s strengths is its depiction of cosplay. Throughout the story, we get to see Raffy’s process as he creates each piece, and the descriptions of his art are detailed but not overwhelming. Each build is so imaginative and easy to picture, which really enhances the reading experience. I especially enjoyed the message that all forms of art are valid as Raffy stands up to his mother who doesn’t consider his work to be “serious.”

❀ Entertaining Book

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala is an entertaining queer romance about embracing your true self. I enjoyed watching Raffy and Luca’s relationship develop, and Raffy himself is a complex main character. The depictions of cosplay are also well done. This is a great book for those with an interest in cosplay and design.

About Ryan La Sala

Ryan La Sala

Ryan lives in a subterranean cottage covered in arts and crafts supplies, somewhere in New York City. Ryan La Sala writes about surreal things happening to queer people. He is the author of BE DAZZLED (out January 5, 2021) and REVERIE, which was selected as a Barnes & Noble book club pick, a Kids’ Indie Next pick, and an Amazon Best Book of the Month.

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About The Candid Cover

Olivia ❀ YA book blogger, Starbucks lover, novice New Yorker, & professional bibliophile.

23 thoughts on “Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

  1. Sophie @BewareOfTheReader says:

    OMG that books has so many elements that I would love! I love when YALC is also happening at the same time as the comic con as we see so many cosplay and there truly is a special mood! Great review!

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