Hey everyone! Today we’re back with a book review for an upcoming YA contemporary that releases this Tuesday: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo.
Disclaimer: We were provided with an ARC from Raincoast Books to review–this has not biased our thoughts in any way. Thank you, Raincoast!
Let’s look at the super cute cover + synopsis!
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.
I’m not a huge contemporary reader, but lately I’ve been in the mood for cute, fun contemporaries–and best of all, diverse ones. There are only a few others books I can think of that include Korean MCs at the forefront in YA (Tiny Pretty Things, To All the Boys series). This book definitely held true to its voice–it was strong, funny, and even relatable at times. I laughed with Desi, and sometimes, I felt downright embarassed for her. But that range of emotions is something difficult for an author to evoke, and I’m glad Maurene Goo wrote Desi with unique talents and flaws. (Or “flailures” — I love that term!) Desi reminds me a lot of myself: a girl with a plan, a to-do list, what have you! 🙂
First off, I’ll talk about the characters. Desi was so, so fun to read about, and better yet, she felt real to me. I think this particularly came through with the voice. Desi truly stands out to me when it comes to contemporary YA main characters. More so, I think the element of Korean Dramas (or K-dramas) and their role in Desi’s life was so fun and also provided a ton of depth to this story. I’ve never watched a K-drama, but even then, I could envision them: the dramatic drama, the edge-of-your-seat action and romance.
I also adored Luca, and especially the way he was introduced, layer by layer, starting as the elusive “artist.” I liked the reciprocal relationship between Luca and Desi; they both rounded each other out in so many ways. But what made this book really fun was the way love bloomed in unexpected ways, surpassing even the K-drama steps. (Those chapter headings were so cool!)
If there was anything to critique, I would say that the writing sometimes skewed a bit younger (middle grade-esque), but the voice definitely stayed true to Desi.
Of course, I love diversity in a story, especially when it feels organic. I’m glad Desi could be the hero of the story, and I’m also so glad that Maurene could write this, and publish it. If you’re in need of a diverse read, pick this one up on May 30–especially if you like Jenny Han!
Rating: 4.5 stars