Hello, everyone! I’m a bit late getting this review posted. It was supposed to be Monday’s post, but I spent most of that day shopping the after Christmas candy sales and the 50% off hardbacks sale at B&N. I’ve been a bit behind ever since because the rest of the week has been busy as well with doctor’s appointments and preparing for today’s road trip to the in-law’s house. I’ve finally managed to carve out the time. So, today I’m reviewing the audiobook Take a Bow, Noah Mitchell by Tobias Madden.
There Are No Cheat Codes for Showmance
Seventeen-year-old gaymer Noah Mitchell only has one friend left: the wonderful, funny, strictly online-only MagePants69. After years playing RPGs together, they know everything about each other, except anything that would give away their real life identities. And Noah is certain that if they could just meet in person, they would be soulmates. Noah would do anything to make this happen—including finally leaving his gaming chair to join a community theater show that he’s only mostly sure MagePants69 is performing in. Noah has never done anything like theater—he can’t sing, he can’t dance, and he’s never willingly watched a musical—but he’ll have to go all in to have a chance at love.
With Noah’s mum performing in the lead role, and former friends waiting in the wings to sabotage his reputation, his plan to make MagePants69 fall in love with him might be a little more difficult than originally anticipated.
And the longer Noah waits to come clean, the more tangled his web of lies becomes. By opening night, he will have to decide if telling the truth is worth closing the curtain on his one shot at true love.
***Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a copy of the audiobook via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my listening experience.***
I requested this audiobook on a whim while perusing NetGalley. I thought the cover was cute, and I’m a sucker for gay YA romcoms. So, it seemed like fate that I’d stumbled upon it. I’m so glad I made the choice to give it a chance because I loved this book so much. It was a story full of heart with dramatic (and maybe a little bit toxic) characters and a great blend of gaymer and theater vibes.
The plot itself was pretty straightforward. An isolated teen who spends all of his time playing video games decides to join a theater production to win over the love of his life, his online gaming friend. The catch? His friend doesn’t know they’ve already met online. Everything from there plays out much the way you would expect. Adorable dates? Check. Awkward first times? Yep. A web of lies that constantly threatens to come crashing down and ruin everything? Oh yeah. From the start, I was screaming at Noah to just tell his friend the truth. He could easily have played it off as an adorable meet cute if he told the truth in the beginning, but he just kept digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole that was impossible to climb out of without it being a massive betrayal of trust and/or him looking like a creepy stalker. I liked the way it worked out in the end, but I’m sure not everyone will love the semi-ambiguous ending.
I enjoyed the perspective of Noah so much because he reminded me a lot of myself at his age. He was awkward, mostly friendless, and spent almost all of his time alone. He was also a bit selfish, overly dramatic, and constantly in his head. He experienced a lot of growth in this story and overcame some past traumas that had been holding him back from getting close to others. The power of friendship and connection was on full display here, and it was heartwarming to see the effect it had on Noah as he learned his own self-worth and how to trust others. His gaming friend, Eli, was an absolute doll, and I don’t see how anyone could not love him. I actually wouldn’t have minded if this would have been a dual POV story because getting more of his perspective would have been enjoyable. He was a sweetheart, and I found myself wanting to protect him from Noah’s web of lies while at the same time hoping they would end up together. lol. The other characters were probably this book’s biggest weakness because they mostly seemed like props to add teen drama or move the story along. Noah’s mom was fairly well-rounded, but she was toxic as hell for most of the story. The good characterization of the main characters made up for the cardboard nature of some of the supporting cast, in my opinion.
The book tackled a lot of themes that I liked. It explored the fuzzy line between when telling white lies is helpful or harmful. The topic of truth was explored throughout the story, and the impact of lies on trust-building had a major role in the story. I also really loved how Noah’s story approached male body image issues. As someone who grew up gangly, awkward, and super skinny, I appreciated seeing that representation here. The psychological impact on teens of societal ideals for the male body are not explored often enough, and this book did a wonderful job of showcasing how those ideals can impact self-worth, friendships, and intimacy.
Overall, this was a really great story. The narrator brought all of the characters to life and did a fantastic job of infusing their different personalities into the voices. Each voice was distinctive and made the characters feel like real people. If you are looking for a good YA gay romcom with gaymer and theater vibes and a good story, then look no further. I enjoyed this book and devoured it in less than 24 hours. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.