My [Secret] YouTube Life by Charlotte Seager
From Goodreads: What if your favourite YouTuber’s life was a lie?
What if you were the one to expose it?
YouTuber LilyLoves has an amazing life: a rockstar boyfriend, a totally Insta-worthy London flat and a collection of beauty products that seems to grow daily (thanks, PO Box).
Sixteen-year-old Melissa’s life is way less amazing – LilyLoves is the only thing getting her through it. She’s Lily’s biggest fan and spends hours each night watching her videos and liking her posts. Melissa wants that life for herself – or at least to look like she has it . . .
As Melissa starts to grow in confidence – and followers – she discovers a crushing secret about Lily – the ultimate YouTube lie. Does she share Lily’s secret and crush her fame? Or will they both continue to live a lie – both online and off?
Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for allowing me access to an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I first saw this novel on Netgalley, I wasn’t sure if I was going to love it or loathe it. It sounded like the kind of book which contains a good message, and I knew it could have been brilliant, but I was a tiny bit worried that it might be one of those books where I can’t connect with the voice.
Luckily, I was once again wrong.
I really enjoyed how it switched between Lily, the YouTube star, and Melissa, a normal girl who is a huge fan of LilyLoves’ channel. It was interesting to get both sides of the same story and the book examines some interesting issues from both sides. There’s been quite a few BBC articles recently about the amount of stress YouTube couples are under to film videos, get sponsors, address fan comments and keep coming up with new ideas and creative projects to fuel their business. Most people start YouTube channels to express themselves in some way, and it’s usually a really amazing deal when those creators get thrust into the spotlight and seemingly have all their dreams made true. Obviously, it also creates quite a lasting impression on viewers too, who watch YouTube couples laughing together, having romantic candlelit meals every other night, going for cute walks and holidays to amazing, exotic places, and goofing around on delightful city breaks. It looks like most people imagine ‘making it’ looks like.
So it was refreshing to see things from Lily’s POV and see some of the stress she was under to maintain a relationship that isn’t as perfect in reality as it is on the screen. She has to juggle an awful lot, and is clearly close to having a nervous breakdown, but the book does a lot to highlight some of the reality behind the mysterious glamour of being a YouTube star. I found her a very easy character to connect with, especially as she seemed so sweet and kind even when things were going to hell in a hand basket around her.
I found it a lot harder to see things from Melissa’s perspective, if I’m being honest. Melissa sees Lily’s videos and wants to not only admire them, but imitate her whole life. She does a lot of manipulative and genuinely quite creepy and unacceptable things to gain attention and followers, and there were quite a few moments when I cringed and considered putting the book down because I was getting second-hand shame reading what she’d done. That being said, it’s also quite interesting how she felt the need to be seen on social media, and how obsessed she became with maintaining it. I felt sorry for her in moments, but I think if she existed in real life, she wouldn’t be someone I wanted to make friends with. There were parts of her character which just didn’t come off as genuine to me, which is funny considering what she gets up to throughout the book. A lot of her interactions with her parents seemed very blunt and out of the blue aggressive, and so very stereotypical teenager having an angsty phase. While I really liked what the book was trying to say, I couldn’t quite get on board with Melissa’s character.
Plot-wise, it was fairly entertaining. I flew through this book, reading a half each night and I struggled to put it down. When a dual perspective book gets it right, it works so well. Whenever Lily was having a bit of a filler chapter, something really big was going down with Melissa and visa-versa. Considering the plot was pretty good, but not entirely unpredictable, the double dose of characters packed a big punch.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with My [Secret] YouTtube Life. I even ended up having a huge discussion with my boyfriend about the issues raised in the book, which was quite cool. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is having issues with fear of missing out on social media, or who enjoys a good side helping of real life issues with their dramatic YA 😀 I’m giving it a 9/10 stars.
Has anyone else read this book or plans to? I love hearing your thoughts and opinions on books I’ve reviewed so please feel free to drop me a comment in the comment section below ❤