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.I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Also by this author: The Way You Make Me Feel, Somewhere Only We Know
Published by Farrar on May 30th 2017
Pages: 336 •Goodreads
Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She's for sure going to 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 her answer 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 Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake 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.
Many thanks to the publisher, Maurene, and YallWest for providing ARCs of this adorable book at the Fierce Friday preview night!
I Believe in a Thing Called Love caught my eye a few months ago on the internet because the title and cover were SO adorable, and I adored the K-Drama inspired concept! It seemed like everyone was reading it early, and I oh so pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the Fierce Friday preview night at this year’s YallWest and found out that Maurene was going to be signing ARCs! It quickly shot to the top of my TBR list, and was the perfect fun and fluffy read to fill my post-ACOWAR book hangover days.
I’ll admit I’m not too familiar with K-Dramas, but I know several people who are and Max is a big fan Korean horror movies (which apparently there are K-Drama horror films too we recently found out, lol). However, I found the concept of the story that’s inspired by Desi’s viewing of K-Dramas to be really fun, and loved how the chapter titles became named after her K-Drama “steps to success.” Aside from learning a lot about K-Dramas (and considering starting some myself!) I really enjoyed learning about Desi’s Korean heritage, from the delicious foods her and her dad make together to her parent’s background and own unlikely love story. Desi’s heritage was a part of the story that fit in seamlessly into the plot, as it was clearly so much a part of her, rather than the story feeling like it was too heavy handed integrating diversity. I would love to read more by Maurene and learn more about growing up in a Korean-American household!
I also always have a soft spot for books set on the West Coast, and this novel takes place in Orange County, one of my favorite places in California. I loved reading about some familiar places and landmarks, as well as Desi and her friends’ focus on applying to colleges across the state.
At the heart of the plot of this book is the romance, and it’s sweet and funny and very YA. I love that even with her K-Drama inspired plan, Desi still pretty much remains unabashedly herself, nerdiness and all (though TBH a lot of the things others saw as “nerdy” in her I actually really admired). The book also turns a lot of high school YA stereotypes on their head, such as Desi’s overachieving nerdiness making her endearing and well liked to the school population, and rather popular rather than your typical outcast heroine. I like seeing positive portrayals of the high school experience because not everyone’s is miserable or typical. Luca and Desi make a cute pair and I enjoyed their courtship, but my one complaint is sometimes Desi definitely went a little too far with her plan and associated stunts, and it was sort of mind boggling to make the mental jump to believe that someone as smart as her would do certain things that were so reckless/over the top/flat out dangerous. However, I think the whole book is supposed to be just a little over the top since it’s taking its cues from K-Dramas, so I’m not too caught up on the unrealistic nature of her stunts.
Overall: I Believe in a Thing Called Love is a cute, contemporary read that contains the perfect amount of sweetness and unlikeliness in its romance and courtship to make it perfect for younger YA fiction. Had I read this when I was younger I would have definitely loved it for the romance and Luca, however as an older reader I love it for different reasons- the look into Desi’s Korean heritage, the underlying family dynamics that deal with loss and grief, and the strong if unconventional friendships. Maurene Goo touches on a lot of interesting issues in this novel while still keep it light and fluffy, wrapped up in it’s K-Drama package. Definitely a super cute and quick read!