For What It's Worth

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

review: I believe in a thing called love by maureen goo


20170524_105137Desi 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. ~ Goodreads

Source: ARC via ALA

Review:

There is SO much to love about I Believe in a Thing Called Love. The effortless diversity, Korean culture, the authentic teen voices, the parent/child relationship. It’s too bad that the book derails into some really troubling behavior.

Desi excels at EVERYTHING. If she can’t do it at first, she studies it ruthlessly until she can. She’s smart, hardworking, determined, loyal and kind. She’s a wonderful character to root for at first. The only thing she’s ever failed at is getting a boyfriend. She gets all tongue tied and klutzy. When new broody and artsy Luca shows up and seems interested - until Desi literally drops her draws in front of him at school (it was an accident!) - she knows she needs to apply her trademark rules and order if she’s going to land her guy.

She manages to pick herself up and regroup even after humiliating events that would take down a grown up and it's hard not to love and admire her for that. 

IMG_20170523_120414_630She decides to make a list of steps to follow to get Luca based on the K Drama’s her father obsessively watches. As much as I’m not a fan of Desi’s somewhat goal oriented, impersonal approach – it makes perfect sense for Desi. It’s just how she lives life. Very methodically.

Yes, you know going in this is is going to be a bit of a madcap adventure and you need to go with it. But….

I was happily ignoring some of the silly antics because really, everything about this book was adorable. Desi’s mom died when she was 7 so it’s just her and her dad and they have the BEST relationship I’ve read in YA in a long, long time. Her best friends tell her she shouldn’t do the list but help her out anyway…fake love triangles, pretending she loves art to get into Luca’s art class. All manipulative but fairly harmless and not anything that most of us didn't do in HS to get closer to a crush.

Then Desi goes down a slippery slope that just wasn’t fun anymore. She finds out that Luca doesn’t date and his reasons behind that choice then does exactly what he’s afraid of and manipulates him anyway. Strike one for me. Worse, she puts them in dangerous situations. From that point on it was hard for me to just roll with Desi’s stunts.

I don’t think I’m spoiling anything here by saying she gets found out and things come crumbling down. So Desi learns her lesson, burns the list and does the right thing. HAHAHAHA! No, she’s doesn’t. She 1/2 learns her lesson and does it AGAIN. *face palm* at this point.

If I was just rating this on everything but the list and romance (which was kind of bleh) – I would give it 4-5 stars. SO cute, or if the things that bothered me weren't so pivotal to the plot, but I can’t ignore what she did and the feeling that she would do it all again. I seriously believe she needs therapy. I thought Luca should run for the hills . What will she do if she thinks he’s cheating or losing interest later?

There’s a quote in the book to describe K Drama’s that pretty much explains the mindset you need going in.

“Once you start going down Disbelief Road, you’re lost forever, boyfriend,” I said. “Just sit back and believe, it’s so much more fun that way.”

If you love K Drama and can let some of the things that bothered me go – then I highly recommend this book but if you can’t – take a pass.

21 comments:

  1. I have never watched a K drama, so no idea

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  2. Oh no, what a bummer! I love the sound of a contemporary about a Korean protagonist, and Desi's relationship with her dad sounds absolutely adorable. And honestly, there's something about a tightly wound, neurotic protagonist that normally works for me. But it sounds like Desi makes mistakes and pointedly *doesn't* learn from them, which is definitely worrisome. Sorry to hear this ended on a sour note for you, Karen!

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    1. I would still read it of I were you. Aside for two things that really troubled me (And if they weren't so pivotal tot he plot I could have ignored) this book is near perfect.

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  3. LoL It's bad when you say the MC needs therapy. I would have been frustrated with her antics too. I mean, doing cute/silly things to get a guys attention is one thing but to put your lives in danger or to purposely push an issue that makes the other person uncomfortable is not.

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    1. Trying to get in the same class, pretending you like things you don't and other things are silly but no harm done but some of the other stuff...nope and I just didn't get the feeling that she truly understood how wrong it was.

      But EVERYTHING else was amazing so it was tough to review.

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  4. This kind of sound like a mess. Lots to like but an MC that has major issues bothers me. I think I am going to pass.

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    1. It was adorable and I hate to dissuade anyone from reading it but I couldn't' ignore something that big. Several of my friends had the same problem with it.

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  5. Darn! You had me at diversity and the parent relationship, but the not learning about manipulating just after it is established she is smart? NO! Gah. I hate that so much in YA. I think that is why I tend to gravitate toward YA paranormals over contemporaries.

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    1. She's super smart and driven so I could see why she approaches it the way she does even if it's not what I would do but the few times she put people in danger is what bothered me. I was ready for over the top madcap adventures but that? No.

      Which is a bummer because this was otherwise and A++++ book.

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  6. Hmmm I love diversity and this does sound like a kdrama which I enjoy ;)

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    1. Then you should definitely give it a try! It's basically a K Drama in book form :-)

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  7. A manipulative MC. I don't think so. This is definitely not for me.
    Totally Addicted to Reading

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    1. It was cute most of the time. She just crossed a line for me.

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  8. Korean novel, huh? I've been to S. Korea, so this sounds right up my alley. I'm currently reading Blown Away by Deforest Day. He's a writer friend (on amazon)and indie author.

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    1. It's set in America but with a Korean American protagonist and lots of K Drama references

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  9. I do love drama in a book and since you are rating this 4-5 stars I would probably read this one.

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    1. If it wasn't for that one thing....lol I hate to even mention it because otherwise this was a 5 star read but putting people in harms way really bothered me so...

      Some people can let that kind of thing go though so definitely give it a try!

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  10. Oh man. Yeah that would be a big nope for me on how she ended up behaving. I have no patience for that kind of thing. One mess up..okay. But after that not so much.

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    1. I think you would have gotten irritated Anna based on some of your reviews that I've read.

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  11. Hmmm-I think some of the things that bothered you would bother me too. I have only read a few reviews of this book so far and they have all been raving about how fabulous it was. It does sound like it has a lot of good things going for it- but I am glad you shared some of the not so great too. Thanks!

    Stopping by as part of the Get Social event hosted by the Herd. :)
    ~Jess

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  12. My daughter is in love with Korean Culture so I wonder if she might like this book as the main character kind of reminds me of her.

    #getsocial17
    Shari @ http://www.delightedreader.com

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