Dateline with a dash of YouTube drama

The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn pulled me in with murder, but kept me hooked with a juicy love triangle and drama only a fictional courtroom can provide.

Cleo Ray grew up with extremely conservative parents, missionaries who chose to devote everything they had to serving God. Growing up with practically nothing eventually drove Cleo to run away to LA to live with her uncle, without a dime to her name. Motivated to become the complete opposite of her parents, she rebrands her entire life and is soon a rising star in the world of fitness influencers. Before long, she has a hot (and successful) boyfriend, a flourishing career, and an image to protect.

Beck Alden is not an influencer, she’s just a regular girl who happened to fall into Cleo Ray’s life. The pair grow close, and when they rent a canoe up in the remote mountains, it’s clear to bystanders that the girls are a bit closer than “just friends.” An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water, her face marred with cuts and bruises. Suspecting foul play, authorities know they must talk to the last person to see Beck alive. The only problem: Cleo is missing. In social media land, news about influencers travels fast, and it doesn’t take long for Cleo’s name to entangle with Beck’s, along with rumors of accident versus murder. Secrets that Cleo has worked hard to conceal begin to come to light, and the once rising star quickly becomes a falling one.

Influencers are a relatively new concept. Coming onto the scene with the rise of social media, they gain their fame through YouTube videos, Instagram posts, and Snapchat stories. Because influencers are a new concept, there aren’t as many fictional stories surrounding the lifestyle. In Anatomy of Desire, L.R. Dorn does an outstanding job of creating a very believable influencer character, which I was impressed with because, in my opinion, most influencer storylines come off as cheesy, or the (usually older) creator is trying too hard. Cleo wasn’t a forced character; she could easily walk off the page and become the next Chloe Ting. Just like her nonfictional counterparts, Cleo has her fair share of drama. Personally, I need a dose of drama every once in a while, so I loved it.

I adored the formatting of the book: chapters are split into “episodes” and contain nothing but pure dialogue. L.R. Dorn is a pseudonym for Matt Dorff and Suzanne Dunn, both of whom hail from the world of television writing, so this screen-writer format was exceptionally well done, reading much faster than a play script. I enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoy sitting down to watch Dateline or 20/20-- which is most Friday nights.

I’d recommend The Anatomy of Desire to anyone lured by the thrill of true crime or anyone relishing in the drama that James Charles and Tati Westbrook provide.

Casey Larsen is an avid reader, but if you ask her what her favorite book is, you will likely get a different answer every time. She currently works part time in human resources and is pursuing a degree in English with a concentration in Literature. She hopes to one day work at a publishing house, helping future writers fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors. Between working and studying, she loves spending time with her friends, binging Netflix, and cuddling with her black lab puppy, Loki.