Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: Virtually Yours
Summary: How bad can one little virtual lie be?
NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn’t dated anyone in five months, not since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke up with her. So when she decides to take advantage of an expiring coupon and try out a new virtual reality dating service, it’s sort of a big deal.
It’s an even bigger deal when it chooses as one of her three matches none other than Caleb himself. That has to be a sign, right?
Except that her other match, Jeremy, just happens to be her new best friend IRL.
Mariam’s heart is telling her one thing, but the app is telling her another. So, which should she trust? Is all fair in modern love?
My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Virtually Yours is a fun college-set YA Contemporary that also delivers an introspective and character-driven plot! Mariam just wants to get over her high school ex, so when she tries a new VR dating service she’s completely surprised when it matches her with, her ex! This novel explores the complexities and layers to romance, friendships, relationships, told through a delightful narrative voice that immerses you from page 1!
I’m back with a book review and Virtually Yours is one I’m SO looking forward to delving more into, because it was such a wonderful read! I related to it in many ways and I just want to shove it into anyone’s hands who’s looking for a college-set YA Book with a plot that’s both unique and fun + really focuses on its characters and their dynamics!!
Mariam Vakilian is still grieving over the breakup between her and her ex-boyfriend Caleb Moore, who’d been a couple in high school for 3 years! But, she decides to give virtual dating a try when she uses an almost-expired 40% off coupon for HEAVR which promises its users their perfect match or Happily Ever After!
But when one of her potential matches is Caleb, her first year at university gets a little more complicated! She’s not just handling the complexity of romantic relationships, but friendships as well among many other uni. experiences from figuring out her major/career and forging important friendships!
Mariam Vakilian is easily on my list of favorite college-set contemporary protagonists (alongside Penny from Emergency Contact 💖), there’s such a unique spirit to her character that you can’t help but want to keep on reading! She’s funny, relatable, and just a wonderful character to follow!
With HEAVR giving her an opportunity to move on from Caleb, she feels there’s a possibility that they can maybe get back together and that a spark could still be there! But in order to do that she’ll have to disguise her VR persona! So, she pretends to be someone she isn’t as she goes on virtual dates and hangouts with Caleb.
What made the dynamic incredibly fascinating was the mystery that unravels as you learn more about Caleb and Mariam’s high school relationship and why they broke up: Interestingly Caleb felt long distance wouldn’t be best for them? (Yet, he still tried out HEAVR).
It isn’t until you begin to piece together the story where you realize that this novel isn’t really about romance (though it is?). Its more about Mariam’s journey to better understand herself as she navigates all these different parts of her life: love, friendships, and relationships in general.
There’s this underlying theme of self as you begin to see that all Mariam really wants is to understand and find a balance to all these parts of her daily life, which I could relate to that a lot!
We see her reconnect with her ex-best friend from high school, take a social welfare class for fun and see how it inspires her potential career path, and just in general, the relationships we maintain as we juggle college life.
As Mariam tries to focus on reconnecting with Caleb, what she doesn’t realize is that her new friend Jeremy, who’s her co-worker at the local gym, could possibly be more than just a friend (and is one of her other matches!). One of my favorite parts of this book was their beautiful friendship (banter & the best hangouts– seeing them connect over music, their holiday phone calls, emails/texts, and having Jeremy invite her to see local musicians play was the cutest 💞).
If your a fan of contemporary romance alongside the “will they get together, will they not?” or the slow-burn friends maybe lovers tropes, then Virutally Yours is a must-read!!😍💖
Jeremy and Mariam’s friendship was one of the absolute highlights of this book! I loved seeing how supportive Jeremy was as he listened to Mariam talk about her complicated HEAVR situation and offer her advice! Its great to see this focus of m/f friendship and have it be such a big part of Mariam’s journey throughout the story! Also the 2 of them just have such beautiful chemistry together layered with their wonderful friendship! Though you know Mariam’s heart is still with Caleb, you can’t help but just ship her with Jeremy!!
Throughout she not only confides in Jeremy, but also her roommate Hedy as she works out her relationship troubles.
This book easily made it onto my all-time favorites list, Mariam’s narrative voice just immerses you and I quickly found myself connecting with the story and its characters.
The exploration of VR technology gave the story a speculative-fiction feel to it too― posing all the questions and complexities that come with how this kind of tech works, even how it can change the foundation of building relationships. Also, as Mariam goes on a couple dates with Caleb, it does bring into the discussion this idea of catfishing (her friends do tell her how wrong that is & it gets cleared up a bit later).
Woven all throughout Virtually Yours are all these different layers that make up Mariam’s life from family (which is such a huge part), her career goals, and how she’s better understanding how to navigate her new friendships/relationship.
I really appreciated how Tash wove into this novel as well, that former acquaintances (from HS) can unexpectedly become such bigger parts of your friendship circle as you navigate college! That part was so relatable to me and I loved how Tash made it an incredibly layered element of the story (as well as navigating friendships in general).
As I was reading Virtually Yours and I got to a part where Mariam is at a get-together with former high school classmates (Addison, Zoe, Prisha, & ex-best friend Rose), I’d actually been reconnecting with an old high school classmate too! Just being able to relate to that in my own life, was just so heartfelt to me and its something I wish more YA College-set Contemporary books would explore, this idea of reconnecting with people from your past and how the most unexpected people can become the best of friends!
Throughout the novel I also loved seeing Mariam reconnect with her former friend Rose, being able to rebuild their friendship & rely on each other during their first year of college!
Romance and how one navigates it are major themes within this novel, but Tash does such a fantastic job at layering all these different elements of college life/ the college experience in a very relatable way as well alongside the bigger theme of romance!
Its really hard to put more of my thoughts into words because this book was just SO MUCH FUN!! I loved the story, writing, characters, romance, themes, exploration of family & friendship, college life, and dynamics between the characters too!
Virtually Yours is just an absolutely wonderful book and I fell I love with it from the very first page! ❤❤
Something I noticed as I progressed throughout the story is that the pacing is FANTASTIC!! As the story unravels you get so invested in seeing how long Mariam can keep her secret, following all the friends she makes & reconnects with, her family, college classes, etc. The plot is always developing and there’s never a dull moment! ❤
This novel is also wonderfully diverse and inclusive: This is an #OwnVoices featuring Mariam Vakilian and her family who are Iranian/Iranian-American! There’s her ex Caleb Moore who’s Black, Jeremy whose 1/2 Italian & Mexican, & f/f rep. as Mariam’s roommate Hedy has a girlfriend.
If your looking for a fresh college contemporary that explores a new concept of modern love through VR, you need to give this book a read!
Virtually Yours is a wonderful YA Contemporary that needs more hype and is a delight in every single way! Its an incredibly fun read that has great writing, a wonderful cast of characters, and exploration of romance that keeps you turning the page! If your looking for a character-driven and relatable college-set contemporary with a bit of speculative fiction, then Virtually Yours is a must read! Don’t miss out on Sarvenaz Tash’s latest YA!
Its been almost 2 weeks since I posted a review and its great to be back! Sorry for the hiatus, Virtually Yours was the first book I’ve finished in the last few weeks!! 😭📚💖When I’m not on the blog, I’m more active on Twitter if you want to talk anything bookish, etc. if I haven’t posted!
With my short hiatus from the blog I’ve been thinking more about what content to post besides reviews (for when I haven’t read for a while) and I’ve had a tough time deciding what that content would be? Please let me know what you’d be interested in reading about, also feel free to comment on any other ideas:
- Literary Listens or more podcast posts
- Fictional Favorites
- Book Tags or Bookish Discussions (Even hauls, tags, etc.)
Happy Friday!! 😍📚🎉