Lindsay Drake is your typical Chicago Gen-Z artist. Her Punk Kitty designs are adorable, but don’t get much attention. Her best friend, Athena, is also trying to sell off her art and taking online courses from famous influencer Elise Shiloh.
When another famous influencer, Shawn Boston, promotes the cover of his upcoming new album, Lindsay immediately recognizes the artwork as belonging to Athena. From that point on, Lindsay makes it her mission to get justice, even if it means getting him cancelled.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Rick is just trying to get by in life. At the moment, he works as a bartender and using his drumming skills to accompany comedians who perform at the nightclub he works in. His grandpa is carrying on an affair with their landlord. Rick is semi-famous from a viral video, but he feels more like a joke. What’s even worse is that seemingly mediocre musicians like Shawn Boston are rich and famous without even trying.
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic becomes a national threat, Lindsay and Rick take to the internet to expose Shawn Boston for the fraud he is. In almost an instant, they become internet sensations. What’s equally surprising is that they end up meeting online and falling in love with each other.
Cancel Shawn Boston is a really fun contemporary new adult novel that feels like a 2020s version of American Pie and other raunchy college-aged rom-coms from the late 90s and early 2000s. It’s not all fun and games, though. Rick’s chapters remind me of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, only Rick is always the butt of the joke. This novel explores the fickle nature of the internet, how attention from others can affect the ones receiving said attention, and the deceptive nature of parasocial relationships.
The character of Shawn Boston is inspired by YouTube Influencers like Shane Dawson, Jake Paul, Logan Paul, etc. As somebody who didn’t really follow the biggest “influencers,” I was still able to relate to the “cancel culture” nature of the storyline. On the one hand, people should be held accountable for their actions. The problem is that when it comes to the Internet, nuance gets lost in the void of comments and clickbait headlines.
Lindsay is not exactly immune to the effects of internet fame or to Shawn Boston’s charm. But as Into the Woods says “Nice is different than good” and Lindsay learns that the hard way. My only gripe with this book is that it felt too short and I really want to see Lindsay and Rick get a happy ending. (NOT in that way, y’all! Please!)
I recommend this book for fans of YA contemporary that want just a little R-rated edge to the typical clean rom-com stories. It’s a quick read and available to read on Kindle Unlimited for free, but it’s also relatively cheap to buy. You’ll be in for a lot of fun!
In the words of Savy and RK: Stay safe, stay sane, stay sexy!