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Virtually Yours

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Modern love plus online anonymity is a recipe for romantic disaster in this lighthearted new romance from the author of The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love.

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?

368 pages, Hardcover

First published June 4, 2019

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About the author

Sarvenaz Tash

9 books301 followers
Sarvenaz Tash is the author of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love (an Amazon Best Book of the Year, YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers), Virtually Yours, Three Day Summer, The Mapmaker and the Ghost, and co-author of Ghosting: A Love Story and Hollywood Ending. She was born in Tehran, Iran and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, which means she got to spend most of college running around and making movies (it was a lot of fun). She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting for the likes of Bravo and MTV. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 189 reviews
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews342 followers
February 5, 2020
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Ankara C

Mariam is single and ready to mingle…or so she thinks, because she is still very much in love with her ex, Caleb. In a futile attempt to forget him and move on with her life, she signs up for the virtual reality dating site, HEAVR, where you can make the most of the magic of the Internet and date through avatars on virtually constructed locations. A rather odd, random personality test later, Mariam is faced with a decision: she has to pick her date from a careful selection of three matches. Seems like an easy task, right? Well, think again, because Caleb is her second-to-most compatible match, and Mariam is completely sure that it cannot be a coincidence. It must be a sign. If the stars aligned to reunite them, they must be destined to be together. That’s what she chooses to believe when she decides to give her relationship with Caleb a second chance…presenting herself as a different person, so that he doesn’t shut her out at first glance. In addition, she also becomes friends with Jeremy, who is, coincidentally, one of her other two matches…What could go wrong?

Virtually Yours is the third YA novel written by the Iranian-American author, Sarvenaz Tash. Winner of the Amazon Best Book of the Year and YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for the Reluctant YA Readers with her sophomore novel The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love (2016), Sarvenaz Tash offers a down-to-Earth and straightforward representation of romantic relationships. Unafraid to open up about the messiest side of love, with Miriam and Caleb’s second chance, Tash explores the ugly side of romance and rightfully so. More authors should dare to offer a more realistic representation of relationships, which usually are as complex as humanity itself.

In the case of Miriam, we get a glimpse of the wreckage caused by the break-up after a long-lasting relationship. She finds herself unable to move on, because she put so much of herself into her relationship with Caleb that she doesn’t know how to continue on her own. Dependency and unyielding emotional attachment are what drive her into attempting to become an item again. Furthermore, while thinking back about Caleb and Mariam’s relationship, the author also explores the tendency of becoming isolated from friends while being in a romantic relationship and the toll it eventually has on a person once they go back to being single.

Although that is the essence of the novel, Sarvenaz Tash also addresses an elating array of exquisitely relevant topics. For one, she pays special attention to the risks of the Internet and virtual dating, such as catfishing, identity theft, and the abuse many companies make of personal data. Some other refreshing topics she deals with are the harsh reality of going to university and the usual feeling of uncertainty many young people have during their freshman year. Last —but not least— throughout the book, she also sprinkles some poignant moments where she openly explores the feeling of “otherness” many second-generation Americans share due to racism. She debunks the fallacy of the American dream, both by exploring Mariam’s and Jeremy’s experiences as non-white American citizens (her parents are Iranian, while Jeremy is Mexican-Italian) and by illustrating the very limited opportunities that are available to poor people and the homeless in the US.

Going back to the novel itself and in contrast to the heavy topics she deals with, Tash makes use of a deliciously fast-paced writing style, which makes of Virtually Yours a rather easy and enjoyable read. Set in what appear to be the present day, the virtual reality factor is also quite believable. Its more developed use presented in the novel, even if not available in real life, is not farfetched and relies on current technology enough for it to be reasonable.

On the downside, Virtually Yours is a bit lacking on the character department. Due to Mariam’s self-discovery narrative, the first-person voice becomes a bit suffocating and self-centered. The rest of the characters are just shadows of what they could have been, and it is a shame, because some of the strongest characters are those secondary ones, despite not being as developed as they could have (especially Hedy, Mariam’s roommate, who constantly steals her spotlight with her brilliant personality). Mariam, as the main character, is rather selfish, and the other characters seem to exist solely to allow her to vent about her problems and to give her advice. To add insult to injury, their advice tends to be worryingly catered to what Mariam needs to hear. Quite frustrating, as the reader knows from the very beginning how her decisions are destined to fail. At the same time, after a few times of Mariam asking her friends about their personal life just to tune out and start an internal monologue about herself, the whole situation becomes understandably infuriating.

Despite these minor flaws, overall, Virtually Yours is a relevant and enjoyable read. Even if the main character is not entirely likeable, Sarvenaz Tash maintains a light, entertaining writing style throughout the novel, while she deals with topics that are realistic and refreshing. Reading about happy endings is always nice, but shining a light on the hardest parts of relationships is also necessary to illustrate the reality of being human.
Profile Image for julia ♥.
415 reviews103 followers
March 31, 2019
read my full review on my blog: here
"How bad can one little virtual lie be?"

It's no secret that 2019 has an amazing line-up when it comes to to-be-released books, but a good chunk of those include some diverse contemporary romances with amazing covers. Virtually Yours, then, is no exception. When I got an ARC for this, I couldn't wait to get started reading this!

What is this book about?
Virtually Yours follows college freshman Mariam, who just broke up with her (now) ex-boyfriend Caleb. Both going off to separate colleges, Caleb doesn't want to risk doing the long-distance thing. Determined that Caleb is making a mistake however, Mariam is ready to get him back. She creates a profile on a virtual reality dating site called HEAVR, where she is assigned three top matches. One of them is, of course, her ex-boyfriend Caleb, but her best match is her cute new colleague at work called Jeremy. What do you do when your heart says one thing, but the universe tells you another?

What did I think about Virtually Yours?
I was infinitely excited for this one. I've recently been testing the waters when it comes to Contemporary young adult romances (I love YA fantasy and New Adult romances, but I've always thought I had outgrown YA contemporaries a little), so when I heard this one was set in college I jumped at the chance to read this.

This was a cute quick read, hence the somewhat short review. I liked the main character, Mariam and I really enjoyed Jeremy as a character too. I loved how Mariam really seems to come into herself at the end of the book, and really starts to invent herself (including her needs when it comes to her own life). Her personal journey in this book is really fun and relatable and one of the things that makes YA contemporaries such a great genre.

I also loved how the author incorporated her own background into the novel. Mariam is from an Iranian family (like the author!), and I really liked how she incorporated the culture into this book. I loved reading about their family get-togethers and traditions!

Plot-wise, however, I had some minor issues. I didn't like the cat-fishing plot. I'm aware this a necessity where it concerns Mariam's character development, but I didn't really like how it was executed. Mariam didn't show any concerns until almost half-way through the book, and had to be reprimanded by one of her friends. I also thought a lot of the drama felt a little contrived since I found Caleb a little two-dimensional as a romantic interest. I didn't fully understand why Mariam was so hung-up on him when the guy had next to no developed personality.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and thought it was a quick and fun read. I had a few issues with the plot which did take away from the rating a little, but overall this was a nice YA contemporary!
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,123 reviews245 followers
June 7, 2019
4.5 Stars
The older i got, the more I realized I chose optimism. I chose it despite the odds stacked against it, despite living in a world whose currency was much more deeply rooted in cynicism and irony. It wasn't because I was weak and naive; it was because I was strong enough in my convicitions that the world could be all right anyway."
I honestly fell more in love with this story and with Miriam the more I read it. It was constatnly surprising me and just brought me so much happiness!

Virtually Yours follows college freshman Miriam Vakilian as she enters the dating world through HEAVR, a virtual reality dating site that guarantees a happily ever after. But when Miriam is matched with her recent ex, things become a lot more complicated in Miriam’s love life.

Things I Liked
Miriam is surprisingly likable! I thought I would have a lot more negative feelings toward her because of the whole deceptive dating situation. But I loved that she was so self-aware through the whole situation. She really seemed like a person - flaws and all - and I kinda loved her for it.

There was some truly great friendships on display throughout the story - with Miriam’s roommate and co-worker each having developed and individual relationships. And I really loved seeing Miriam’s family and her relationship with her siblings. They also just felt really real. And you know I’m always a sucker for a sibling relationship.

I thought Miriam’s class about the American Welfare System sounds so cool and definitely like a class I would have taken in college. And I really loved seeing Miriam's growth outside of her romantic relationships.

I thought that all the characters handled the drama and missteps with maturity. Yes there was initial emotional outbursts (all rightfully earned) but reactions were true to characters, and honest for people with history who truly care about one another. It was just very well done in my opinion, when it could easily have brought my enjoyment down.

Things I Didn’t Like
I think the premise of the story is inherently a little bit icky, but that’s kinda the point. The anonymity of online dating is brought to the extreme, with avatar stand-ins and fake names in lieu of real information. And lying and deceptiveness is also a pet peeve of mine in relationships, but I thought it was handled as good as it could have been, given the situation.

The name HEAVR is ridiculous and I laughed every time it was brought up. But other than that, I had a truly wonderful time with Virtually Yours. I thought the characters were real and well defined, with relationship I wanted to follow. Once I got about 75 pages in, I couldn’t put the story down. And I don’t think you’ll be able to either.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,670 reviews701 followers
June 14, 2019
I had read and enjoyed Sarvenaz’s other books and I was intrigued by this premise, but it was a little bland for me.

I liked Mariam well enough. Her inner monologue sounded much younger than her age, but she does grow in the story. There is an excellent group of secondary characters and they’re all so supportive. I especially loved Mariam’s roommate, Hedy.

Plot wise, it was all about the VR dating thing and that got pretty stale pretty quickly. I would have loved to see the friendships fleshed out a bit more. The direction of the story felt disjointed and all over the place; if it was done intentionally to reflect how Mariam felt at her first year at school, it was effective. Unfortunately, it kept me from settling into the story. I did love seeing the diversity, culture, and f/f relationship on the page.

Overall, it was a cute idea, but it lacked a spark that I was hoping for. I never really connected to any of these characters, so I was fairly indifferent to their journey.

**Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster BFYR for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Nikki.
308 reviews235 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
August 20, 2019
Did this just use catfishing as a means to get the love interest.... Yikes
Profile Image for Karina.
510 reviews124 followers
October 9, 2019
Rating: 4.5 Stars: ★★★★ 1/2
Virtually Yours is a pretty underrated book and one I recommend checking out if your looking for college-set YA! Mariam is a wonderful & relatable protagonist, this is a book about friendship, love, and navigating life!! This book was SO good, I had such a fun time reading it!!

Its not just a book about romance, but also friendship and finding that balance to navigate all the relationships and different parts of life!

Following college freshman Mariam, she's navigating life and love when she tries out a virtual reality dating service (HEAVR) and her first year at university gets a little more complicated when she sees that one of her matches is her ex-boyfriend! This book easily made it onto my all-time favorites list, the Mariam's narrative voice just immerses you and easily find yourself connecting with the story and its characters!

It isn't until you get further into the story that this novel isn't really about romance (though it is?) its more about Mariam's journey to better understand herself as she's navigating all these different parts of her life: love, friendships, and relationships in general.

One of my favorite parts of the book is Mariam's friendship with Jeremy (their banter & hangouts were so cute) who also happens to be one of her other matches! Its great to see the complex dynamics of friendships are really a big part of Mariam's journey throughout the book.

When Mariam decides to pursue the online relationship with her ex, in disguise, she wants to see if the spark is still their (also considering he broke up with her b/c he felt long distance wouldn't work). There's a good amount of mystery throughout this book as you unravel Mariam's high school past with Caleb and what led to her grief over their breakup.

But throughout this journey she confides in her new friend Jeremy and roommate Hedy as they help Mariam work out her relationship troubles.

The exploration of VR and technology gave the story a speculative feel to it and I loved how it posed all the questions and complexities that come with how this kind of tech works and how it can change this idea of how one builds relationships.

Woven all throughout the novel 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 and relationship. I really appreciated how Tash wove into this novel as well, that former acquaintances (from HS) can unexpectedly become such bigger parts of friendship circle as you navigate college! That part was so relatable to me and I loved how Tash made it an incredibly layered part of the story (as well as navigating friendships in general).

Romance and navigating it are such huge parts of this story, 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!

This is something I noticed the from page 1 and as I continued to read, but 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 I was immersed from the very beginning! <3

This novel is also wonderfully diverse and inclusive: This is an #OwnVoices YA Contemporary 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. with Mariam's roommate Hedy having a girlfriend.

Virtually Yours is a wonderful and definitely underrated YA Contemporary! Its an incredibly fun read that also weaves in relatable themes & topics, alongside the great writing, wonderful cast of characters, and exploration of romance that keeps you turning the page! Loved this book! ♥‿♥

Profile Image for Fiebre Lectora.
1,803 reviews546 followers
February 6, 2020
Virtuales ha sido una novela que ha resultado muy entretenida, que cuenta con unos personajes geniales, sobre todo su protagonista, una historia que cuenta con representación y que te deja con muy buen sabor de boca.
Reseña completa: http://fiebrelectora.blogspot.com/201...
Profile Image for Anny.
624 reviews293 followers
December 16, 2019
La verdad es que ha sido una decepción y me duele porque pensaba que me encantaría el libro. Adoro las historias que tienen que ver con cosas virtuales, ya sean personajes que hablen mucho a través de emails o bien que se conocen a través de la red pero con Virtuales ni he podido conectar con la historia y con la protagonista... menos. Me ha dejado super fría durante todo el libro. En un inicio, durante los primeros capítulos me gustó y empezó bien pero después... no había por dónde coger el libro.
Las decisiones de la protagonista ni me gustaba, ni lograba entenderla y cuando finalmente empecé a hacerlo, a intentar empatizar con ella la historia de repente cambió por completo y he sentido que las bases que ha intentado poner la autora se esfumaron.
Se lee muy rápido y solamente por ello, y gracias a mi cabezonería lo acabé porque sino lo más probable es que lo hubiera dejado a la mitad.
Profile Image for Pat Marín.
Author 3 books257 followers
December 1, 2019
3,5 en realidad. Una historia sobre una chica que se apunta a buscar pareja por realidad virtual. La vida se le complica cuando descubre a los posibles candidatos. Una historia juvenil con un bonito mensaje y una evolución muy buena de la protagonista. Dos chicos y una elección. Una historia entretenida y original. Me ha faltado más sentimiento romántico pero se entiende al leer el momento que vive la protagonista.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,210 reviews1,648 followers
March 25, 2019
Based on the description, I wasn't really sure how Virtually Yours would work for me, but I sat down and read this cover to cover almost all in one evening (I stopped with fifty pages left because I have to work UGH).

Mariam's narrative voice is fantastic, and that's what drew me into the story and kept my attention. She's punny and silly and loving but also makes bad choices in a way that's really understandable and kinda relatable. Despite all the lying she does within the pages, she has an honest feel to her, and you get why she's doing what she's doing even as you're shouting GIRL NO. It's hard to pull that off, I think, so I'm thrilled it worked for me here. When someone does something that's clearly Bad Idea Central, it's really hard to make that relatable and understandable, rather than making the audience dismiss them as TSTL, so serious props to that. Also, she's Iranian, which is awesome (it's so cool that in a week I've read four books with Iranian MCs when I don't think I'd ever read one before).

Mariam's a freshman in college (so happy to be getting college books in YA now—nothing really was said about it but they're just magically appearing and holla so happy), but she hasn't been living her first few months of college life to the fullest. She's been depressed and lonely, mourning the loss of a three year relationship because her boyfriend Caleb dumped her citing distance (he's in California and she's at NYU). One day, on a whim, she decides to use a discount coupon for HEAVR, a dating app with a virtual reality component.

When she does this, Mariam is totally not over her ex, but it's such a real impulse. She wants to feel hope again, to believe she can move on and find love, so she signs up. Unfortunately, Caleb shows up as one of her top three matches, so she dates him using an avatar and fake name. This is #badideabears, but it's hard to deny that people would totally give into that curiosity. Mariam's struggling partially because she doesn't understand really why they broke up, so seeing that they still have amazing chemistry means something to her.

Caleb doesn't interest me tbh, but I think that relationship's handled in a really believable way, absurd circumstances aside, and it's a really good look at the emotions accompanying a break up and the way that relationships change. Also the way that we change and no longer fit relationships. What I particularly enjoyed was the way that her relationships with others developed. In an odd way, even though she was clinging to the past, finding interest in her life again still helped her connect with her present. She wants to talk about how freaking ridiculous and random her life has been, so she makes friends with people around her: her coworker, her roommate. She also bonds more closely with her siblings.

The only thing I feel a bit iffy about on this one is the actual VR stuff. It flirts with being a sci fi and having an actual plot built around that aspect but doesn't go far enough, so it's just a mildly menacing company but then the book just ends in classic rom com style, and you're like "okay but what about HEAVR?!?!" This is one of those books where I'd love to see how the book started out and changed from first draft to publication, because I'm so curious about whether the VR was added for a hook or if it was more about that and removed in later drafts. Anyway, ultimately, I felt like the book started to say something about virtual dating/online dating but then really didn't, and it comes down a bit anti-online-dating, but I don't really think it meant to.

If you're looking for a rom com or a great character arc story, definitely check this one out. If you're more intrigued by the science fiction-y aspects, pass or adjust expectations because it's really not about that.
Profile Image for Sandra Lawerson.
416 reviews163 followers
November 6, 2019
Sinceramente, me ha dejado super fría este libro. No me ha dicho nada de nada. Sigo sin entender qué historia quería contar la autora, porque tampoco está muy bien estructurada. Se supone que es un romance con un toque original: existe una app de realidad virtual que te hace emparejar con alguien con quién tienes un alto porcentaje tras hacer el típico test de personalidad. Sin embargo, me ha parecido todo bastante absurdo. El romance es muy obsesivo y tóxico, no me ha gustado. Y la protagonista, igual. Ni ella ni los demás personajes me han transmitido nada, las conversaciones y las relaciones que hay desarrolladas de manera pobre, sin nada a lo que agarrarse. Se lee rápido el libro, pero es que no aporta nada dentro del género.
Profile Image for Lucía Cafeína.
1,439 reviews171 followers
November 30, 2019
Muy entretenido y tierno.
Aunque en un primer momento cuesta conectar con la protagonista, su evolución es maravillosa a lo largo de la novela, y los temas que se tratan, la amistad, la familia, el amor... todo está tratado con mucho cariño.
¡Y la representación!
Muy recomendado para pasar un rato entretenido con un libro que engancha.
Profile Image for Mary.
994 reviews428 followers
Want to read
October 3, 2018
THIS SOUNDS AMAZING, AND THE COVER IS GORGEOUS.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,119 reviews1,326 followers
June 10, 2019
3.5/5

I've been a fan of Sarvenaz Tash since her debut novel, Three Day Summer. Virtually Yours sounded so unique, I was very eager to read it. Mariam is a freshman at NYU still dealing with the heartbreak of breaking up with her high-school boyfriend, Caleb. She's finding it hard to move on from the relationship, so when the opportunity arises to give virtual dating a try, she takes a leap. This all sounds like a great idea until one of her three top matches turns out to be Caleb. She decides to use a fake name and an avatar to date Caleb in the hopes of getting back with him together. Mariam was a relatable young woman. She is obviously feeling very down from her breakup, but she remained hopeful and optimistic. Even though she was practically catfishing Caleb, she wasn't doing it out of mean intentions. She was just a girl hopelessly in love with him. I'm not usually one for the catfishing trope so it was hard for me to swallow Mariam's actions, but we do see her repent her actions. I also liked that she was the one that revealed the whole truth to Caleb. I will say that I didn't particularly care for Caleb. I wasn't exactly sure what Mariam saw in him. I don't think his character was as developed as Mariam was. He was a decent guy, I just wasn't into him as I would have liked. What I did really like about Virtually Yours were the different relationships Mariam had. I adored her bond with her elder sister, in particular. Her sister was much more pragmatic than her, but she still encouraged Mariam to be optimistic with limits of course. Mariam also had a great friend in her roommate, Hedy, and we see their friendship grow a lot stronger as Mariam hangs out with her more often. Mariam makes a new friend in Jeremy, who also happens to be her top match in the virtual dating app. Jeremy was a sweet kid, but like Caleb, I felt like we didn't particularly get to know him and I would have liked to. In summary, Virtually Yours was an interesting read with a great cast.
Profile Image for Andi (Andi's ABCs).
1,531 reviews187 followers
June 5, 2019
This review was originally posted on Andi's ABCs


I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Way back in 2015 I came across a book called Three Day Summer and I was instantly hooked on how Sarvenaz Tash tells a story and the characters she creates. I knew immediately after finishing it I was going to eagerly anticipate all her releases and I wasn’t wrong. I have been waiting for something new since 2016 when A Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love (an all-time favorite) and when I heard about Virtually Yours I was beyond thrilled. It had been so long and the anticipation was killing me. I am happy to say that it lived up to every expectation I had and was 100% worth the wait.

Virtually Yours is about Mariam, a freshman at NYU who had her heart demolished when her boyfriend of 3 years broke up with her. Not wanting to be stuck in her room she decides to try a virtual reality dating site. Mariam is given 3 matches to pick from and to her surprise one is her ex-boyfriend, Caleb. Deciding to throw caution to the wind, she selects him in starts dating him in secret and things start to go well. Then enter Jeremy, a guy at work she immediately hits it off with. The two of them are on the fast track to being best friends. There is just one catch, he was also one of her 3 matches. Now Mariam must decide between what her head thinks she wants and what her heart actually needs.

At first glance, this book sounds like a love triangle. It is not. It is really the story of Mariam and her figuring out what she wants out of life and out of love which is what being 18 should be about. She is a freshman in college and she doesn’t have all the answers. She doesn’t have any of the answers so she does things that she thinks are right but might not be right for her. That’s what I loved about this story. By re-dating Caleb she found out she was a different person than she thought she was and found out what she truly wanted and what would make her happy.

I can’t explain enough how much I love this author and the stories she tells. Tash seems to have a great grasp on the teenage/YA emotion and I can’t get enough of her stories. I’ve been a fan since 2015 and Virtually loves just cemented that love. If this one isn’t one your TBR it should be.
Profile Image for Cathy.
913 reviews58 followers
June 12, 2019
This was a quick and easy read, but it's more a coming of age story than a romance. Which is fine, of course, but it wasn't what I was expecting so that threw me a little.

I liked Mariam a lot, but the deception with regard to Caleb went on too long and then their storyline got dragged out even further when I was much more into her friendship with Jeremy. But as I said, this isn't really a straight-up romance and Mariam's doubts and feelings did feel accurate for her age and what she'd been through up until that point.

The story had definite pros too, such as the fact that it happens over the course of a year and there are some truly excellent family and friendship dynamics, and I felt that New York as a setting (as far as I'm any judge) was quite well done. Overall, though, I just wish the focus had been more on her actual college life in NY and less on the whole ridiculous virtual dating experience thing.
Profile Image for Morgan Fries.
64 reviews5 followers
February 4, 2021
this book was absolutely amazing from start to finish. i tend to find a lot of books super slow in the beginning, but this one was the complete opposite. it was so beyond relatable and i was so glad that it was more realistic in so many ways — minus the VR dating app (unless that’s a read thing...) but i love how she actually got a chance to be back with her ex and realize that he was truly an ex for a reason and the guy she really needed was someone the VR had recommended in the first place !!

Love it so much !
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for ☆☆Hannah☆☆.
2,906 reviews37 followers
October 31, 2019
The first half of this book went well for the most part. Of course her lying was stupid but we knew it was coming. However, as the book went along I found Mariam to be selfish. She was ditching people to go on virtual dates. Plus her getting mad at her friend because she was afraid she would do the same thing to her she had done before was just sad. As you tell Miriam was not my favorite person. I did like the idea of the book I just didn't like her.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,327 reviews231 followers
June 1, 2019
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Mariam had NOT been making the most of her freshman year of college. This was a time for her to try new things, meet new people, and start looking towards her future. But, she was doing none of that. Instead, Mariam was floating in and out of each day, missing opportunities, as she nursed her broken heart. With encouragement from her roommate, she signed up for a virtual reality dating service, which just so happened to match her with the source of her heartache - her ex, Caleb. Seeing it as sign from the universe, Mariam embarked on a virtual relationship with Caleb using a false persona. Though she saw this as a second chance with Caleb, it may really have been her chance to find herself.

People are clamoring for more books like this. Books set in college, where the focus is more on the adjustment from high school to college. Tash gave me that and so much more with this book.

Mariam may have been young, but she was definitely going through a sort of identity crisis. She spent the last three years being part of a couple. She had lost some friends over those three years, and made many things in her life secondary to her boyfriend. It was not a quick process, and watching Mariam navigate her emotions and self-discoveries was sometimes frustrating, but I was truly happy about all the progress she made.

Once she started seeing things in a different light and stopped clinging to her past, she found a fabulous group of friends. Hedy, Geneviève, and Jeremy were all very special, and brought something wonderful to Mariam's life. I loved all the movie watching, coffee drinking, and reality show based conversations they shared. But, they also shared some really meaningful moments, which paved the way for Mariam's journey.

This book was on the lighter side, but I won't pretend that there weren't some really emotional moments in there. There were a few of Mariam's big a-has, that were accompanied by my tears. Some were happy tears and some were sad tears, but all were important moments I was glad to share with Mariam.

And the ending! That ending left me like


Overall: This was a heartwarming, hilarious, and honest tale of one young woman's journey to rediscover herself, which was entertaining and throughly enjoyable.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Sam Chase.
665 reviews118 followers
April 12, 2020
Rating: 3.5 stars

I started off not really enjoying this at all - the whole ex-boyfriend drama was not my thing - but by about 60% I started enjoying it a bit more. This ended up being much more about self-care and personal growth than romance, which was really refreshing. Mariam grew a lot throughout the book, which I really liked. Although the side characters were very, very flat, Mariam herself was complex enough that I was okay with that. She was the star of this book, and it was her journey that we were supposed to care about. If you're looking for a romance this is not your book, but otherwise give it a go!
Profile Image for nikki.
45 reviews12 followers
October 7, 2019
I feel like I wanted too badly to like this book and i did, but at the end of the day it was boring and repetitive at some points.

it also took me way too long to finish this simply because I didn’t really feel immersed in it which could have just been me but either way... i’m ehh on this one.
Profile Image for Michelle (Michelle’s Library).
783 reviews139 followers
June 12, 2020
https://youtu.be/RVfC56V7Jnk

Reading the Lowest Rates Books I Own

The only good thing about this book was the diversity of the characters. Otherwise, the main character catfishes her ex boyfriend and it’s so messed up.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for JW.
492 reviews1 follower
May 9, 2022
Coming of age story about moving on and letting go. Mariam was likable and real. I don’t normally like triangles, but this one resolved itself without cheating or too much drama.
Profile Image for Steff Fox.
1,183 reviews149 followers
April 24, 2020
| Reader Fox Blog |


Honestly, I feel like Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash had a pretty interesting premise and a fantastic start. Overall, I was really enjoying the read as I began. After a little while, though, I began to slowly lose interest until I realized that I didn't actually care about any of the characters in the story. Virtually Yours follows Mariam Vakilian, a Freshman at NYU as she navigates the world after her breakup with long-time High School boyfriend, Caleb.

In an attempt to move past her first love, Miriam decides to give virtual dating a try since all of the college students were given a coupon for the dating service at the start of the year anyway. Amazingly, much to both her surprise and perhaps targeting her lack of self-control in this case, Miriam soon finds out that one of her top three matches is none other than her ex-boyfriend. So, as any heartbroken girl might feel tempted to do, Miriam decides to try and convince her ex that they belong together by secretly dating him under a pseudonym and with a virtual reality avatar. Meanwhile, her number one match actually happens to be the guy she works with at the gym.

I really liked the idea of this story to begin with. It was cute, it was futuristic, and while I did feel certain I knew how the book would end (I was right) I was excited to give it a try. And to give credit where credit is due, Virtually Yours was off to a great start. I was intrigued, I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and I really felt like this was a story I could see happening in the future. I even recall commenting on how much I loved it at the beginning. And, wonderfully, the book was culturally diverse, which I appreciated. I think it was just an excitement over the premise and the belief that the story would just keep getting better. Unfortunately, Virtually Yours fizzled out about halfway through the novel and it had everything to do with the fact that none of the characters really seemed to have any chemistry with each other.

I just couldn't keep myself interested when I felt that there was very little reason, barring the fact that they had somehow held a relationship for two years, for Miriam to love the love interests and for them to love her. I didn't like the relationship with Caleb as there was nothing about the pair that made me feel they worked as a couple. I didn't like the relationship with Jeremy at all, largely because it often felt like the only thing Miriam and Jeremy talked about was her relationship with Caleb. I don't know how we're expected, as readers, to think that these two characters have gotten to know each other well enough when 99% of the subjects they talk about are Miriam's cat-fishing of her ex-boyfriend. It pretty much ruined it for me. There was no slow get to know you period, there were no moments where I felt that Miriam had genuine feelings for him and so all of the tension that was supposed to exist as a result of having feelings for him were present within the novel at all.

I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the supporting characters, either, as they all felt very flat, almost caricatures of their personality traits. It was unfortunate, but I genuinely didn't feel like I got to know any of them well at all and several felt like there were solely there for plot purposes. And I hate when characters only exist to serve a plot purpose. And I think this book basically just fell really flat when it came to getting to know its characters and actually having its readers care about these characters. It's a real shame, I think, since I do genuinely believe that this book got off to an amazing start. After a while, unfortunately, reading Virtually Yours simply felt more like a chore than anything else.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Lauren.
453 reviews38 followers
October 2, 2019
Mariam Vakilian is a freshman at at NYU who has a coupon for a virtual-reality dating service called HEAVR. Her high school boyfriend of three years broke up with her, and she is ready to try out something new to get her mind off him. After going through the initial questionnaire supported by HEAVR’s happily ever after guarantee, Mariam sees her results: her #1 match is her coworker Jeremy, and her #3 match is her ex-boyfriend, Caleb. So, Mariam does what any heartbroken teenager might consider - she chooses Caleb and concocts an avatar with a fake name that looks nothing like her, and asks Caleb on a virtual date.

The catfishing plot bothered me much more than I thought it would. A few movies and books lately have done spins on the same thing, the recent movie SIERRA BURGESS IS A LOSER coming to mind. There’s something that’s just so wrong about these tropes, from the lying and deception to the level of obsession and conviction that it takes to keep the ruse up. It especially bothers me when the person being lied to comes to totally accept the lies and deception with very few questions asked. It’s so unrealistic! (For a better version of how this story can go, see any spin on Cyrano de Bergerac.) It took way too long for Mariam to see the error in what she did, and even in the end, her excuses of “I was heartbroken! I thought it was fate!” still win the day. Her friends and family are also pretty complicit in this, which is a little gross.

The chemistry between Mariam and Jeremy was really sweet and fun, but it was too few and far between to really ignite a love for the two characters together. Honestly, I think this book could have been longer and drawn out the interactions between them more, making it more of a pining-on-both-sides story. The ending is really rushed and doesn’t give you more than a ten-second glimpse into the happy ending as promised.

One aspect of this book that I loved was Tash’s integration of Iranian culture and family dynamics. Mariam and her family are Iranian Muslims, and it’s clear that her culture is a big part of her personal life; Tash brings in Iranian foods, sibling and parental relationships, and familial norms. It was a great way to make Mariam a more rounded character and to tell the story of a nonwhite female protagonist. Caleb is black and Jeremy is Mexican; Mariam’s college roommate Hedy is lesbian. And you don’t feel like any of these characters or their diverse traits are just thrown in as a token. Yay for diversity in YA and romance!

Overall, this was a solid story with an interesting premise; I could have gone for a little less catfishing and a little more fun and flirty romance. Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Nicole M. Hewitt.
1,389 reviews284 followers
June 20, 2019
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

When I saw the concept for this book, I couldn’t decide if virtual reality dating was a completely crazy idea or a highly likely one. Or maybe both? Either way, it was definitely intriguing, and I knew I wanted to read this book.

I loved the focus that this book had on the adjustment from high school to college—a topic that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. This book is actually less about the romance and more about Mariam finding herself apart from her boyfriend (and her home and family). But, of course, I was invested in the romance as well. There is a definite love triangle here, so if you really can’t stand those, you might need to stay away, but honestly, I thought it was incredibly well-drawn, and I completely understood Mariam’s struggle to decide where her heart should lead her. I was also a fan of the friendship between Mariam and her roommate (and the roommate’s girlfriend). There were a few moments with the virtual reality itself that had me scratching my head (Why would they have a VR environment when you sit in a chair and move around by “walking” with your fingers?? And would kissing via VR be at all pleasant??), and Mariam makes some bad choices when it comes to Caleb. Still, overall, I found myself really enjoying this sweet story of self-discovery. (And I was happy that Tash gave me the ending I was hoping for!!)

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Profile Image for Georgia.
682 reviews32 followers
December 3, 2019
Fluffy, predictable and an easy read. But then...it got very creepy and ngl freaked me out a bit but that's not the reason for 2 stars.
This book follows Mariam who she and Caleb decided to break up due to college and the distance. Mariam is heartbroken and can't seem to get over him. She decides to try this online dating virtual reality thing, you have VR dates, idek. She has three potential matches one of them is Caleb, wow, shocker and she chooses him. She basically catfishes him and tries to get him to re-fall in love with her. She uses a fake avatar, no photos and hides and distorts some information about herself. All of that was sketchy and just not cool.
Something I did like were the friendships here and a representation of college life and how hard it can actually be. Mariam makes friends with her roomie and her girlfriend, they watch old films together, bond and do typical New Yorker stuff. Mariam also has a job at the gym and she makes friends with Jeremy, the dude who was 98% her match with the VR. They all get to know each other and becomes this really awesome group. Mariam seems to talk about herself a lot and her issues, it's really cool to see her realises his half way through the book and develop as a character. She starts asking more questions about her friends, really getting to know them and taking time away from all the Caleb drama.
Meanwhile she is also reconnecting with her high school friend Rosie who said she changed when she and Caleb got together like friends were no longer important to her so she and Rosie drifted and lost touch. It was nice to see them come back together and shared meaningful talks about college, the future and how it's okay to decide that what you thought you wanted to do you don't actually want to do.
Something I thought was interesting is when Caleb is told Mariam is catfishing him, he does get mad they have distance and things start working with Jeremy. He tells her he likes her and there are so many moments full of tensions that could easily lead to something but don't as he understands she still has feelings for Caleb. Caleb and Mariam do get back together, they talk all the time, use the online dating thing and Mariam is still there for her friends. She discovers she wants to go into work helping people and making a difference in social work, Caleb basically says she is too optimistic and sensitive and it won't be a good job for her and Mariam actually feels that she is this way in spite of everything that has happened she chooses to be this way (ngl all that hit pretty hard). He doesn't really support or understand her choices. Mariam kind of gets the idea that something isn't right in their relationship and realises Caleb was right from the start to call things off.
It is later revealed that Jeremy went on a date with virtual Mariam so so weird and the VR dating thing is purposely messing up peoples irl dates and chances at love so they date virtually instead. Wow. SUPER CREEPY. Little freaked out as that could actually be possible though omg.
In the end Mariam gives the girl from the band she likes the okay to date Jeremy while she works on herself. Mariam is happy being single and does her own thing. Jeremy goes to Italy like he wanted but he and the band girl split. A while later Jeremy and Mariam get together because of course and they're both ready for something more this time. CUTEEE.
I did enjoy the representation in this from being Muslim, mexican and wlw very nice additions.
This book was average, nothing special about it and I won't remember it, I enjoyed it, like the development and of course was predictable. CREEPY. Wow.
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