Be dazzled

Ryan La Sala

Book - 2021

Seventeen-year-old Raffy is determined to win a cosplay competition that could lead to art school admission and respect for his talent, but being paired with his main competitor, ex-boyfriend Luca, complicates things.

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Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Lasala Ryan Checked In
Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks Fire [2021]
Physical Description
325 pages ; 22 cm
Ages 14.
Grades 10-12.
Main Author
Ryan La Sala (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Raffy loves cosplay. Like, really loves cosplay. To him, a new costume is a work of art. He hopes to win this year's cosplay competition at Controverse, which could land him sponsorship and even secure a path to art school. But nothing is that simple for Raffy. His mother, a big deal in the art world, sees his cosplay designs as childish and unworthy of even being called art. At least when he was dating Luca, he had someone to share his hopes and dreams with. But then Luca broke his heart and came back to Controverse to compete against him. Just as everything starts to unravel like a poorly stitched seam, Raffy and Luca (both white) are forced to rely on each other in ways they would never have expected. With panache, his signature flair for the dramatic, and gloriously detailed descriptions that bring cosplay fashion to life, La Sala (Reverie, 2019) crafts a fabulously gay story of hope, friendship, and love worth fighting for. Queer nerds, rejoice! Grades 8-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Raphael "Raffy" Odom lives for cosplay and the elaborate anime-inspired costumes he creates. With best friend May, he's entering the biggest competition of them all: Boston's Controverse Champion- ship of Cosplay. They're determined to win, but Raffy can't stop thinking about his would-be partner, Luca Vitale, once his boyfriend, now his ex and rival. Alter-nating "Now" and "Then" between the competition and the history of Raffy and Luca—a soccer player who's not out as either bi or a cosplayer—La Sala (Reverie) sets his story of romance, teamwork, and beat-the-clock competition in a world where crafting centers sponsor elaborate competitions with serious prize money. Raffy's funny and self-aware—he's both grateful and offended that his mother believes he and May are going camping, like "some plucky settlers of CATAN!" If Raffy's art-world powerhouse mother and her hatred for cartoons, crafting, and pop culture feels over the top, it's a small misstep in a sequin-filled romance that's also a love letter to the craft and creativity of cosplay. Ages 14–up. Agent: Veronica Park, Fuse Literary. (Jan.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—Boston teen Raphael Odom is a master crafter and cosplayer. His livestream views are picking up, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win first place, and an art school scholarship, at Trip-C (the Controverse Championship of Cosplay). However, Raphael is also the son of Evie Odom: Renowned artist, gallery owner, and vehement anti-crafter. He hides his passion from her, secretly buying supplies and sneaking out to cons with best friend May. His anxiety and perfectionism are only manageable through the meditative process of crafting—alone. When playful, closeted jock Luca Vitale takes an interest in him, he's a beautiful distraction who disrupts Raffy's routine and forces him to embrace spontaneity. The novel explores Raffy's shifting relationship with cosplay, and with Luca, in intersecting chronologies; one story line follows present-day Raffy dealing with their break-up and Trip-C, while the couple's courtship is told in flashback. La Sala deftly builds the mounting tension of the competition alongside the budding relationship and its inevitable end—though a happy ending shines through. The heavier elements of the novel are buoyed by abundant humor, heartwarming romance, and the overall message of embracing your deepest, geekiest self. Raffy's introversion, and the way he processes his anxiety through creating, will resonate with anyone who finds strength and security in their hobbies. Luca is Italian American and Rafael's ethnicity isn't named. VERDICT Teen readers active in the con and cosplay scene will love seeing themselves depicted with the gentle humor of an in-group character. A crafty queer romance about self-acceptance, and a delightful addition to YA collections.—Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Seventeen-year-old Raffy is determined to win a cosplay competition that could lead to art school admission and respect for his talent, but being paired with his main competitor, ex-boyfriend Luca, complicates things.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story from the author of Reverie 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.Praise for Reverie:B&N's YA Book Club Pick * Walmart Buzz Pick * Indie Next Pick * Book of the Month Club YA Box"This outstanding debut novel will light readers' imaginations on fire...Imaginative, bold, and full of queer representation, this is a must-purchase for YA collections."—School Library Journal *STARRED REVIEW*"This fantasy offers readers something wonderfully new and engaging...a gem of a novel that is as affirming as it is entertaining."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books"The story's many LGBTQ characters are prominently represented and powerfully nuanced."—Publishers Weekly"A darkly imagined, riveting fantasy... thrilling."—Shelf Awareness"Joyously, riotously queer... The themes of creating one's own reality and fighting against the rules imposed by the world you're born into will ring powerfully true for many young readers."—Kirkus Reviews