Kenya Davenport is the ideal contestant for “Cosplay or No Way,” a reality competition show that follows cosplayers as they construct elaborate ensembles based on their favorite fictional characters. She’s smart and funny, with pop culture savvy, a passion for anime and quips for every situation. Her nerdy interests may not overlap much with those of her engineer parents, but she’s fine with that. So is her BFF, Cameron Lassiter. Cam’s her ride or die, her partner in crime. He’s not into cosplay like Kenya, but he still agrees to pose as her boyfriend r in the final round of the show, where the contestants enlist their real-life partners in the construction of their final costumes. It’s both more and less awkward than it should be, because Cam’s secretly been in love with Kenya for years.
Author Seressia Glass displays a talent for natural dialogue and effortless humor, which shine in the interactions between Cam and Kenya. Cam is particularly lovable: He seamlessly integrates into his role of fake boyfriend and proves time and time again, even outside of the demands of the show, that he’s there for Kenya. His steady, unerring support bolsters her inner strength, and he always lets her know that she’s remarkable, with or without a costume or mask.
Glass touches on a handful of real-world issues without slowing the forward momentum of the central love story. Yes, Kenya is fat. Yes, Kenya and Cam are an interracial couple. Yes, her parents whittle down her confidence. But Kenya dances to the beat of her own drummer and knows that she’s all the better for it. She doesn’t expect or want Cam to protect her when the show’s judges make snide comments about her weight and physical appearance; she’s more than capable of either doing that herself or choosing to ignore these types of slights. Glass constantly strikes the right balance in these moments, acknowledging the problems Kenya would face on reality TV or in her relationship with her parents while maintaining The Love Con’s exuberant, hopeful tone.
Kenya and Cam’s partnership proves that while plenty of things in life are a con, their love isn’t one of them. The Love Con is a unique glimpse into the world of cosplay that will lighten your heart and make you smile uncontrollably.