Cam Girl Review: That Doesn’t Even Begin to Describe It

June 26, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Cam Girl Review: That Doesn’t Even Begin to Describe ItCam Girl by Leah Raeder, Elliot Wake
Published by Atria Books, Simon and Schuster Australia on November 3rd 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: New Adult, Romance
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Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.
Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.
Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.
She’s got nothing left to lose.
So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.
It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:
Can we meet IRL?
Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she's been running from—those of others, and those she's been keeping from herself...

If there’s anything I can tell you about Cam Girl, it’s that it is one hell of a confusing book. Undefinable really. Just like the characters in the story.

It gave me many conflicted thoughts about some issues that I’ve never really thought in-depth about, such as gender binary, LGBTQIA+ and the porn industry, specifically camming and dark fetishes. It raised to light so many thoughts and emotions that made me rather uncomfortable, which is what a book like this does – it shatters perceptions, and makes us think.

Vada is a Spanish girl who has conflicted emotions with her best friend, who she’s in denial about. Her best friend Ellis is gay, but as obvious as it is to everyone else, Vada just doesn’t want to admit that she’s in love with her. So instead, she constantly pushes her away, emotionally bullies her, and resorts to camming to deal with her dark thoughts. Vada isn’t a very nice person. But she’s also artistic, deeply passionate, self sabotaging and conflicted – if you don’t love yourself, you’re not capable of loving someone else.

“If two people could make each other smile and laugh and forget all the pain and darkness in the world for a moment, why should we feel ashamed of it?”

I thought her relationship with Ellis was extremely toxic, especially with how they would constantly hurt and push each other away, before passionately making up. They’re addicted to each other, so incredibly co-dependant that they can’t see what they’re doing to themselves. But that hurt, is balanced by so much love for each other, so much acceptance. These two are balls of flame, made for each other and loving each other brought out the best of the other. Vada is incredibly protective over Ellis, protecting her from everyone who would ever hurt her, including her own family. Ellis on the other hand, is sweet, intelligent and always forgiving of Vada, despite what she does to her. They’re the best and worst parts of each other, and it kind of freaked me out. There’s also lots of violence in the book which I found pretty disturbing, especially between a couple. These two have no boundaries when it comes to the way they love each other, but sometimes it went way too far.

The other part that drives Vada’s dark thoughts, is the accident that the book opens up with, which results in the death of someone. Vada is permanently disabled in her right hand, which used to create the most beautiful artwork. This leads to her self doubt and hate as well, as her passion has now been taken away from her. I wish there was more surrounding the slight disability in the book.

How fucked-up was it that my confidence came from dumping the blame on some poor suicidal gay boy and jerking off for some stranger on the Internet?

So instead of art, she finds herself falling into the porn industry – by camming for sexual entertainment. This is where I felt pretty uncomfortable. It’s spoken about in this really empowering way, that these females are controlling who they talk to and what they do as a feminist movement, rather than breaking into modelling or acting which is dictated by males. But at the end of the day, you’re still doing what you’re doing for male (and some female) entertainment, so I wasn’t in agreement with that side of the story. I also found the fetish side of Cam Girl to be quite horrifying, especially where choking yourself/each other is heavily featured as a sexual fetish. In the book it’s spoken about as something so incredibly exhilarating, but the dangers of it was never really emphasised. Don’t try this at home, kids.

Even after all of this, I haven’t touched upon what the book is essentially about. It’s about Vada’s internalised misogyny and how she constantly hates the side of her that loves girls, and her best friend. It’s about gender binary and how clinging onto the ideas we’ve formed around male/female identities can be harming to the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s also about how at the end of the day, sexual orientation, sexual identity – none of it really matters if you’ve found love.

All you really need to do, is learn to accept yourself.


Cam Girl is a dark, intoxicating read about some important issues in the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly when it comes to identity and acceptance. It was an eye-opening read that placed these issues front and center and really makes us think about it. Although it was compelling, I was quite disturbed by much of the book especially the portrayal of a toxic relationship. An important book, but definitely one that isn’t for everyone.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Thank you Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of this book.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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34 responses to “Cam Girl Review: That Doesn’t Even Begin to Describe It

  1. bookbinges

    I really loved this one. I do agree that the relationship in the book was totally toxic. But I guess I just love messed up characters? Great review. Sorry you didn't enjoy this one more.
    My recent post June Wrap-Up

    • Yeah, all of Leah Raeder's books are actually pretty dark and disturbing, so you really need to be in the right mood for them. Thanks Alise!

  2. Yup Jeann, this definitely sounds like it's not for me. Reading about the thoughts behind a cam girl and that kind of abusive sex is really not how I roll, no matter what kind of message it gives out. And toxic relationships are too heavy for me to handle. :'( But awesome review though! I like how you gave those warnings. 😀

    • Yeah, there were just so many things here that were wrong but then it was fascinatingly dark you know? Thank you! Lol I totally needed to be warned myself!

  3. Hot Damn. This book sounds INTENSE AS FUCK. I've read Unteachable by Elliot Wake and that's about it. I have wanted to read some of his other books but to be honest, I am slightly terrified because of the intensity of the relationships in his books. He writes complex relationships that have SO much to say about things but I am always a little nervous too because there are so many emotions and a lot of discomfort.

    I am glad to see you enjoyed this one for the most part, Jeann! 🙂

    Lovely review as always, hon <3
    My recent post ARC Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

    • I know right?! Oh man, I read Black Iris and it was just as intense. Both of them are total mindfucks. There are definitely a lot of important themes here to prepare yourself for. Thank you lovely! <3

  4. aentee @ read at midnight

    Beautifully written review, Jeann. I had no idea what this one was about beyond its focus on gender identities so I am glad to see such a thoughtful and detailed review on it! It sounds like a dark read and definitely one I want to check out, only if I am in enough of a mood to handle such intense subject matter. The way it portrays porn as women empowerment sounds like a POV that I can't really agree with as well, though. In any case, this sounds very thought provoking and going on my must-read list.

    • Thanks Aentee! There were so many interesting things about this book and discovering it along the way was kind of intense you know? Yeah, you definitely have to be in the right mood for it! Glad to hear you're keen on reading it – I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

  5. I'm glad you liked this one overall, Jeann! Elliot Wake's novels always have that underlying darkness to them, and I think that's one of the reasons I do like reading them. That side of life is often hidden away in too many books.

    I loved how destructive the relationship between Vada and Ellis was because it was incredibly interesting to read about, and also revealed that relationships like this DO exist, and that it's hard to let go of something once you decide to. And sometimes letting go isn't the best idea, and you have to grow and learn instead.

    Vada felt empowered by camming because she had lost so much respect and love for herself after her injury. I think that she felt the empowering part of camming because the people watching appreciated her. Sure, it's a kind of messed up way of finding a sense of self confidence, but if that's what worked for her, then I'm glad she at least found something that made her feel proud of herself. I hadn't noticed that the dangers of suffocation weren't explored, but now that you brought it up, just mentioning that it isn't the greatest thing to do would have been good.

    My favourite aspects of the book were about changing views on sexuality and gender identity, because they were brought forward in such a frank and realistic way, and I am always appreciative of that!

    • Absolutely, it was a really dark, disturbing and fascinating read that left me in a slump lasting for days! It was interesting how destructive their relationship was but then in a way they're also meant for each other? I'm glad to hear your thoughts on the camming and Vada recovering over it! But yeah, that suffocation thing I found so disturbing. I liked that about it as well!

    • I'm glad to hear that you're keen on reading it Bee! It's a really fascinating queer read that really fucks with the mind lol.

    • It's definitely not for everyone Joy, but there's something about it that is strangely addictive. I know what you mean though!

  6. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    I enjoyed this one a lot but definitely dark. The relationship was so so very toxic. I honestly don't think I have read anything like this before. I agree it is not a book for everyone. Great review!
    My recent post Weekly Rewind ~ 6.26.16

    • Definitely, that relationship was really hard to swallow I think! it was definitely a really eye opening book. Thank you Grace!

  7. Alice

    This sounds like a really dark and intense read. It sounds like it's rather unique as well! Especially how it's dark af but also extremely eye-opening as well. I think I'll check it out sometime. 🙂 Beautiful review Jeann!!!

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