Rating: ★★★+.5 | 8 hours 15 minutes | Self-Published | Contemporary | Buy Now !
Everyone loves YouTube drama and rival vloggers TrashyZane and BeauStar have been throwing shade all over social media. Beau doesn’t see the value in Zane’s hungover on-camera rants about his personal life and Zane thinks Beau’s bland brand of positive-affirmation-gay is completely false.
And he’s right.
The always happy and plucky Beau Starr is an image created by Beau and when he shows Zane who he really is they click in more ways than one. But being together could do some serious damage to their YouTube brands and they have to keep their relationship secret while dodging fans, drama channels and an ex-con.
Hassell and Erickson have created a ton of compelling characters in the Cyberlove world and Zane Brody tops them all. Zane’s an unfiltered extrovert with a punk rock sensibility who spends a lot of this book delivering some serious hairography with his shoulder length locks. He challenges Beau’s ideas about queerness and they tackle gay respectability politics in a way I haven’t seen before. When I first wrote this review I noted that Zane has more development than Beau and I wonder if it’s because Hassell identifies a little with Zane. In a blog post Hassell describes his younger online self as being a “messy bitch” on Livejournal with drunken “rants about my family and people I was in relationships with” which sounds a lot like Zane’s channel.
I’ve been a YouTube fan for a while and I was so excited to see it portrayed in a romance novel. I would describe the vlogging community in the Cyberlove series as more ideal than accurate. They created a world where queer vloggers and vloggers of color are the ones who get major brand deals and where being your most authentic self is the most important thing in a YouTube channel. Those things aren’t necessarily true with the current state of YouTube. I loved the queer L.A. vlogging community created in this book and I hope we get to see more of it
I’m sad to be done with the Cyberlove series because it was such a fun binge reading experience. There is a point in this book where Zane and Beau are at an outrageous party in an L.A mansion overlooking the Hollywood sign and I was struck by just how expansive this series is. We’ve gone from a FOB in Afghanistan to a neighborhood in Staten Island to the beaches of Santa Cruz and yet these stories all tie together perfectly with this crazy little thing we call the internetz.