Book #122: Like & Subscribe (2013)

likesubscribeauthor: Jay Bell
language: English
length: 54 pages
finished reading on: 5 November 2016

This is the second short story that Jay Bell (author of the Something Like Summer series) has written, after Language Lessons, which I read the same week as this.

It’s the story of a guy who is crushing on a Youtube celebrity, who happened to go to high school at the same time, although they were not friends. He gets the chance to hook up with the Youtube guy, but doesn’t follow through because it feels weird, and then afterwards he realizes that the man behind the mask is actually Youtube guy’s boyfriend – he’s the one that tells Youtube guy what to say. Eventually the main character falls for him instead. I say eventually… it’s a short story, it doesn’t take that long.

I sympathized with these characters a lot more than the ones in Language Lessons, who I found conceited. These ones fit more closely with my own life, except that their situation is a bit nicer. Bell also shows that their lives are fuller than we know from just the story, and that their characters are more than one-dimensional – there are hints of a failed relationship with, or one-way crush from, a girl who is still living with the main character, for instance, but the book doesn’t have the space to develop her character. I think it’s a massive improvement on the earlier short story.

I’ve noticed that Bell’s stories seem to follow a set arc, where the main character has one relationship first which doesn’t work out, and then falls for a completely different character. This follows that pattern, Language Lessons follows it in a more striking way, Something Like Summer follows it, but has a disappointing ending in order to make the original relationship work instead. Spring and Lightning also followed this pattern. I like the guy’s writing – I like his characterization and I always identify a lot with them and the stories – but he does really like to stick to a particular trope. I must have already commented that most of the Something Like books are revisiting the same story from different characters’ viewpoints, and there’s only so many times you can do that (maybe once) before it gets trite. Just saying, like, maybe he could try another genre or something, to refresh a bit.

Anyway, it’s a free Kindle book, and it’s pretty easy to read, so of course I recommend it. I think it’s also a cheap Audible download if you’d prefer something to listen to. No idea of the quality of the recording, though.

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