Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Published: May, 2017
Genre: contemporary, romance / young adult
Goodreads

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

I have recently gotten into K-dramas, so I am very intrigued and passionate about everything Korean and when I was recommended this book, I was very excited about it. I think that apart from the Lara Jean trilogy, I had not read a book with a Korean lead before; I might have read books with Korean characters but they were so not the focus of the story and I am sorry to say that them being Korean was not important at all since that was merely mentioned. Since my discovering K-Dramas though, this has been my first Korean character, and what got me even more curious about the book is the MC’s love for K-dramas and the inclusion that they had in the plot and their presence throughout the story.

The K-drama aspect is what draw me to the book and it was what I loved but also disliked most about it. Desi, our lead character, is not very secure when it comes to talking to boys, but she is a great organizer and planner, so after discovering her love for K-dramas, she comes up with all the steps it takes for k-drama heroines to get to their partners. That idea, and those first interactions were so funny and awkward and interesting and I was enjoying it so much. The chapters changed since she started using the list and instead of having “chapters” we moved to “steps” to get to Luca, Desi’s crush, and as she crossed items from the list, I became aware of how wrong some of those steps were. Sure, in K-dramas sometimes things are exagerated and overplayed, but it comes out as fun and destined to happen, female leads do not wish for accidents so they an get closer to the male leads, they happen accidentaly. But Desi is determined to follow all the steps, and that bothered me.

31145133I have to say that most of those steps happened involuntarily and that was very nice, for that is also the case for K-dramas, the flow from one to another was great and easy but I still cannot ignore those wrong choices. My problem with them is also that Luca, Desi’s crush, is unaware of everything and that leads to her constantly lying to him and putting themselves in danger. Had Luca knew about Desi’s intentions, everything would have been less problematic, and still very enjoyable. There is a book ccalled The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon, that proves my point. In there, our romantic male lead wants to prove to a girl he has just met that anybody can fall in love following some steps, BUT the main difference with I Believe in a Thing Called Love is that the girl is aware of what he is doing, since he shares that idea with him, and everything is still fresh, fun and enjoyable. I know that what’s different about this book is that Desi uses that list to feel more comfortable, but she is also a smart girl, so she should have known what to take from that and set limits for herself, and for Luca. Instead of having to prove herself to be better than any other girl, why not show kindness? And why not do it because you’re really nice instead of needing to show off in front of a guy?

Everything I mentioned made me struggle with Desi’s character, but if you remove those things, if you remove her following of the list step by step, she is nice, and not because she has to be to prove herself to Luca, though that also happens. Luca himself was not my favourite part of the story; he had so many sides of him that I did not know what to believe about him sometimes. The best character was, without a doubt, Desi’s dad, the sweetest man possible. I also loved Wes and Fiona, and their relationship with Desi was the best part of her character. Surprisingly, I also loved Violet, a girl whom we first see as opposed to Desi but who we get to know more as the story progresses.

And of course, every mention of a K-drama or a character from a tv show was incredible to witness, for I am not used to that happening in books. Normally they mention popular American TV shows, and even though I like some of them, they are always talking about the same ones. It was refreshing to see other shows I love getting mentioned, and those shows being Korean. Some of the scenes I enjoyed most were simply of Desi and her dad watching a K-drama together. However, what I also appreciated was that you needn’t be familiar with them, or K-drama in general, to be able to enjoy those scenes or follow the story, for Desi explains whatever you need to know about them, and you can also get the rest. And if you want to know more about them, o not worry, because at the end of the book there are some recommendations for you to read.


Have you read I Believe in a Thing Called Love? Do you agree with what I have said? What was your favourite part?

 

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