22 Oct 2015

Review: Cam Girl by Leah Raeder

Review: Cam Girl by Leah Raeder
November 3rd, 2015 · Atria
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC via Netgalley
Page Count: 320
Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she's been running from—those of others, and those she's been keeping from herself... 

When I saw Cam Girl on Netgalley, I couldn’t resist. I’ve read rave review after rave review when it comes to Leah Raeder’s books, ever since Unteachable released in 2013 and caused a storm of hype and frenzy. While I didn’t fall head over heels for her latest, I can see her book appeal. Her writing alone is gorgeously intoxicating.

The characters are incredibly flawed and real. Sometimes I’ll read a book where the characters seem like puppets; their words not their own; their actions forced. This is not the case with the lead or its secondary characters. Veda comes right off the page, her emotions vivid enough to touch, her voice all her own, as does the rest of the incredibly diverse cast. POC, physical disability, characters who ID as Bi, Gay and Trans. It’s all here.

I didn’t know what to expect with Veda working as a cam girl and I didn’t give it any thought when I went ahead and requested the book. I don’t have an interest in reading about sex work, but I thought the author handled it very well and depicted that camming can be more than objectification.

I wasn’t a big fan of the twisty suspense, as I felt it started to drag on as the story progressed. But I must say: the last 15% was INTENSE. Like, stop breathing, stop reading, catch my breathe intense. Well played.

I’d heard wonderful things about Leah Raeder's prose and I can confirm: her writing is just as good as everyone says it is. It’s lyrical, lush and lovely to read. But Cam Girl as a whole? I didn’t really connect with it. I liked it, but I didn’t love it and it's not that I can even really fault it. I really think it's one of those it’s-not-you-it’s-me situations. Maybe it’s because I’m happy reading YA and that I don’t have that pull to read NA, at least not yet. I do know that if I do want to venture out in the future, for something dark, edgier, I’ll be looking up Raeder's other titles. Her writing alone is enough to venture back for.

Are you a NA reader? If you're familiar with Leah Raeder: what's your favourite titles of hers?

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