Rating: ★★★★ | 229 Pages | Self Published | Contemporary | 2/15/2016
25-year-old Kai Bannon is what you might call internet famous. Millions of adoring subscribers tune into his Twitch stream for game reviews, funny commentary….and occasional shirtless dancing. But most of his online performance is just that. A performance. IRL Kai suffers from severe anxiety and hasn’t left his Philadelphia apartment in two years. His solitary lifestyle works for him, but then he starts exchanging messages with deployed Army mechanic, Garrett Reid. When their relationship goes offline to IRL, Kai can’t hide his flaws behind a screen anymore.
Kai lives in an online world that will seem realistic to anyone who, ahem like me, has dabbled into the world of internet famous people. The authors capture the culture of internet fame so well, like this bit early on when Garrett decides to Google Kai:
Kai + Twitch + Fallen World Online brought up Pinterest pages, a Tumblr called FuckYeahKaiBannon, and fan pages on various social media websites. The number of people who were using his face as an avatar on their own Twitter accounts was alarming – Erickson, Megan. Strong Signal (Cyberlove Book 1) (p. 17). Megtino Press. Kindle Edition.
See that Tumblr account ? I have seen that Tumblr account.
My biggest hurdle with this book is that I had a real hard time believing the “meet cute”. It’s not believable that someone like Kai would respond to an e-mail from another player upset over something that happened in a MMOPRG. It seems like someone with as much internet fame as Kai would have written him off as a troll and ignored him.
There is something refreshing about how down to earth the heroes in Strong Signal. One of my nitpicks about mainstream romanclandia is that it seemingly takes place in an alternate world where characters in their mid-twenties are running the world. Garrett’s not some special ops army war hero, he’s just a guy who joined the military out of high school and whose biggest fear is being unemployed once he leaves the Army.
Believe it or not this review just barely scratches the surface of this book, there is plenty of drama going on as the characters try to fit into each others lives. Hassell and Erickson have have created complex, modern characters for a truly 21st century story that is #couplegoals.
I am mildly fascinated by mediocre white boy internet celebrity so in my head Kai is a mix between a lower level Pewdiepie, Troye Sivan and IDK maybe theseone of these British guys who randomly make videos shirtless for no apparent reason.