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REVIEW: “The Byte of Betrayal” by Ashavan Doyon



Caleb McDonnell lives his life online. A thirty-year-old fast food worker, he spends his time talking in an Internet world where his job and living conditions can’t dictate his friendships. He’s found acceptance, friendship, and even romance. But when an online friend is revealed as a fake, Caleb loses all sense of trust. To stave off the emotional collapse of his betrayal, Caleb leaves his online life behind and retreats into the monotony of his job.

Nicodemus Rokos feels like his heart has been torn out. He knew Caleb would be hurt, but he’d hoped not to be shut out of his boyfriend’s life. He can only hope Caleb still feels something when he shows up in person to reclaim what he’s lost.


Silly. Just plain silly. The Byte of Betrayal betrays an interesting concept with shallow characters, melodramatic dialogue and trite drama.

Due to a busy life schedule of late “nap-size” and novella size nuggets have been all I have had time for. Because of their brevity, I don’t usually expect too much out of them other than an hour or two escape with enough sustenance to sate me. But once in a while I open one that is simply ridiculous …

Glancing at the blurb for The Byte of Betrayal , it caught my attention immediately for two reasons. One – I seem to have a quirk for stories of this arising phenomenon of “catfishing” (Thank you MTV for bringing that word into my vocabulary). And two – as far as my “sweet tooth” for romance is concerned, I really enjoy these slow burn relationships that develop mainly through dialogue, where the reader can witness and comprehend the attraction between the two characters. I feel it gives the relationship not only a relatable aspect for the reader, but also the progression makes sense. I was not able to make any sense of Nic and Caleb’s attraction, relationship or over reactions to any hiccups in their lives.

This novella sized disappointment started out with some promise throwing in thoughtful observations like this:

There was a reason he was spending time online. People in the city didn’t even talk to each other. How was he supposed to find someone here?

A common dilemma that I believe has in part sparked many people turning to a form of “cyber relationships”. However, despite these random smart observations, the author was unable to paint a portrait of a relationship growing to trust, inspite of the occurrence of a betrayal. Or for that matter really a portrait of any real relationship at all. Instead the first 65% of the book is focused in the head of each character, miles apart, reflecting on the intrusion of a “catfish“. One character directly effected by the catfish, Caleb, goes into “mopey mode” – and “Woe is he” for how could he ever trust again? Might as well curl up in a ball naked and cry for his pitiful self – no really, he does that. The other character, Nic, ponders how he can retain Caleb’s trust and salvage their relationship. What relationship you ask? For the first 65%, we don’t really know. The reader has been told how close Nic and Caleb are, how they have such a deep connection, how they have chatted over time – virtually dating and forming a romantic bond, but we didn’t get to witness any of it.

Do we ever get to see a relationship? Yes – a bizarre one. The last 30% is spent at a whirlwind pace – overcoming trust issues, unloading baggage – from a past of prostitution, poverty and loneliness to a leach of a best friend that has been an emotional and financial succubus to one of the characters for seven(?!*) years. It seems we learn less about Nic and Caleb’s relationship and connection and more about why a catfish interrupting their relationship is the least of their problems. Top that off with melodramatic responses to their issues and every clichéd push and pull, ILY’s, honey, baby, koochicoo and these hot mess characters make for one train wreck of a story.

I’d like to think that the author hobbled himself in making Nic and Caleb’s story a novella instead of a full novel. In a proper length format could he have fleshed out his over reactionary, shallow characters? Or been able to examine their dynamic more? I don’t know. But I do know that he didn’t develop either characters or story on the few pages of this novella in a successful manner – whether that be the fault of length of format or not.

For the reader who wants to explore the trust issues and gradual development of an internet romance, I have to recommend trying Clarke‘s The Truth About Riley. If you are looking for a hero lacking in self-confidence and who prefers to pity himself despite all he has overcome paired with one who is such a push over that he is there to pick up the pieces for everyone who has gotten catfished in his life (seriously if you are Nic’s friend you should just stay off the internet), then spent your $3.99 wisely on these 73 pages. For me, I feel like I got “catfished” by this book – an intriguing blurb with nothing to follow.



22387837Title: The Byte of Betrayal
Author: Ashavan Doyon
Publisher:  Dreamspinner
Pages: 73
Release Date:  June 1, 2014
Purchase Links:  Dreampsinner

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This entry was posted on June 15, 2014 by in Contemporary, Reviewer: Rachel and tagged , , , .

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