Review: Play It Again by Aidan Wayne

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The videos are fun.

But it’s the host who has him coming back for more…

When Seattle-based blind YouTuber Dovid Rosenstein finds Sam Doyle’s Let’s Play channel, playitagainsam, he’s instantly captivated by the Irish gamer. Everything about Sam is adorable, from his accent to his personality, and Dovid can’t get enough of his content.

Dovid’s glowing shout-out on Don’t Look Now, his own successful channel, sends Sam’s subscriber numbers skyrocketing overnight. He has more comments than he can read. And while the sudden surge in popularity is anxiety inducing, Sam decides it’s only right to dedicate his next episode to Dovid…which soon leads to a heart-pounding exchange of DMs.

They may have never met in person, but Dovid’s never felt this close to anyone before. What they have feels worth exploring—no matter the distance. But is it possible to already be in love with someone who’s half a world away?

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this other than I’ve never been let down by a Carina Press title.  Play It Again didn’t disappoint me either.  Now, I have to say this much: not a lot actually happens during this story.  Dovid is in Seattle, Sam is in Dublin and most of their interactions are online or over the phone.  Honestly, I think it worked well in this context, but if you’re looking for something steamy and exciting, with lots of action, this isn’t it.  However, it’s still an engaging and fun story that will warm your heart.

Play It Again was refreshing in so many ways.  Dovid is blind, but he’s not by any means helpless.  His sister, Rachel, is there to help him, but she doesn’t baby him in any way.  If anything, she is his driving force, encouraging more and more independence for him.  While not disabled like Dovid, Sam has an issue of his own – severe social anxiety that keeps him from making friends and doing many things other people do for fun.  It was fun watching Sam come out of his shell while talking to Dovid, learning to trust more and become less anxious.

In addition to addressing differently abled persons as well as mental health issues, Play It Again also touches on the subject of non-heterosexuality.  Dovid is bisexual.  Rachel is sex-repulsed asexual.  Sam is homoromantic asexual.  I loved the way that Dovid helped Sam understand that not being interested in sex was normal and natural and nothing to be ashamed of, despite the fact that Dovid was very sexual.  It was also very reassuring to see Dovid so content with cuddling and kissing and not really missing being more intimate with Sam.

This was one of the cutest books I’ve read in some time.  Sam and Dovid’s enthusiasm for each other is sweet and infectious, I found myself rooting wholeheartedly for them to make it work.  The way the author worked all the mediums into the narrative – Twitter, YouTube, Skype – worked well to make it a modern, entertaining novel.  One thing I wish had been explained more, or at least maybe more clearly, is how Dovid navigated websites and the like.  You eventually discover he uses a voice to text application to translate text messages to audio, but I don’t remember it having been explained how he would look at Sam’s Patreon page or YouTube page.  That one minor thing aside, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this very sweet and heartwarming story.

4.5/5

*Thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of this book.

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