Review: Who Loves You by Emily Alter

For as long as Ben has been a YouTuber, and no matter how successful, he’s never been able to reveal the truth about his past, which seems to keep haunting him every time he tries to move on. His breakup with fellow YouTuber Owen Danniel, and the drama it ensues, don’t help make it better.

It's because of an appointment with his primary doctor, and an unfortunate encounter, that his luck may start to change. His name is Julian Yates, he loves cheese, mushrooms, and puts anchovies in his sandwiches for reasons Ben can't begin to fathom.

However, Julian has a history too, and things he wished stayed buried and didn't crawl back to haunt him. Revenge porn, and his rather unfortunate response to the huge stir it brought about, don't just go away. It doesn't matter that he's already moved to the other side of the country with his sister, or that his job as a hiking guide gave him the perfect excuse to go unnoticed.

When Julian fails to remember what can happen if he’s on camera for one of Ben’s vlogs, they’ll both have to face their biggest, sometimes most irrational fears. Will Ben be true to his word as a hopeless romantic and put Julian's well-being above that of his channel, or will he give up on a relationship that’s barely started? What about Julian? Will he work on the unresolved issues that make him believe he's only good for one thing, or will he clam up at the first sign of rejection?

(+80000 words. Steamy scenes. HEA.)

I was excited about the idea of a YouTuber as a character because it’s definitely something relevant to today’s celebrity industry. The whole concept intrigues me. I remember when YouTube was first used in the format it currently inhabits and how if you asked me then if it would generate huge income I would have laughed and called you crazy. I rarely venture into it unless I’m watching a trailer for the latest movie to determine if I really want to spend my money, but my children watch it more for the local celebrities and gamers, so I know there is an entire commercial industry attached to it that I wouldn’t even know how to scratch the surface of.

Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into this story. I didn’t like Ben at all. He breaks up with Owen without much of an explanation on why, but heavily references his ‘past’ that we know nothing about, so it comes across as him being contrary and shallow. It was also contradictory. He says he loves Owen and everything is great and then he’s dreading the surprise Owen has, then crying about it because he’s so joyful, then telling Owen it’s over, with some vague reference to the relationship going sour and him feeling things were ‘off’. Just no. It made no sense to me. I honestly didn’t care about how his past contributed to the breakup because it wasn’t explained, probably to draw out the ‘drama’ and I’m guessing the ‘big reveal’ that will come later in the story. In my humble reader's opinion, if I am expected to swallow that, I needed more than I was given.

The format of the story was weird. Italics were used to get into Julian’s point of view in random places and just did not work for me. The story didn’t flow well, and I found the content to be repetitive and droll. I don’t know how many times in the eight chapters I read where Ben waffled on about himself and his ‘past’ that we don’t know about yet, or what type of person he is, but it was enough to make me not care about it in the least.

Another thing I found difficult was determining who the author was referring to during conversations between Ben and Julian when using the pronoun he/him. It was overused and I couldn’t keep up with who was saying what. I don’t like to feel confused while reading, and this did that for me.

Weird sentence structure and repetition aside, I actually didn’t get why Ben was a YouTube celebrity. Why did he have 4 million subscribers? What was his content and brand? Who paid him? How did he manage to keep his channel alive over the decade he claimed he had been doing it? I don’t know. Because I wasn’t told. And if I judged him on personality alone, I’d say he might have 10 people watching his videos, who were all his friends and family in real life and that he should have had a day job. Maybe I would have found out more about this channel and his brand if I had stuck it out, but if I didn’t know within the chapters I read, while his character was being built then I honestly don’t care. This should have been the first part of character building, because it was his job, and heavily referenced. Background is essential if you’re building a personality based on an existing celebrity status.

I was hoping to get into how Julian’s past made him so fearful of physical contact, and the camera (I assume the reference to revenge porn in the blurb would be part of it) but I just couldn’t get there. I started skimming this story heavily, and by the time Ben was leaving Julian’s house because Julian had a severe physical reaction to being awoken by a man in his bed, still not giving anything away, I knew I was done.

So this was not a win for me, and I’m not sure I’d be able to get into anything written in this style again. I’d suggest getting a sample to test your tolerance for the writing style before purchasing this book because, what you get in the first 5-10% is how Ben is at 36%. If this doesn’t bother you, then I hope you enjoy the rest of the story.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion

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