For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Review: Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei #1) by Abigail Hing Wen



For fans of Crazy Rich Asians or Jane Austen Comedy of Manners, with a hint of La La Land

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.


Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.
Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart? ~
Goodreads

Source: Libby/Audio

Review: Surprisingly, I enjoyed the hell out of this one. I say surprisingly because it’s filled with drama of all kinds – romantic, friendships, family – lots and lots of drama!

Eighteen year old Ever Wong just wants to dance. She’s a good student and a good kid but her Chinese parents, who emigrated to the US to give Ever a better life, feel like she’s squandering opportunities and turning her back on her Chinese culture in pursuit of a career in dancing rather than in medicine.

They send her to Chien Tan, an elite program, in Taiwan to study Mandarin and other cultural classes pre-chosen by them to turn things around. Unbeknownst to them – the school has the nickname of the loveboat because of all the wild antics and hookups the teens engage in. So they basically take a really good kid and throw her in to the pit of teens gone wild. lol

Ever engages in increasingly risky endeavors as a way of fighting back against her parents constraints and it all starts to come crashing down on her.

I’m sure this could be a bit much for some readers. Ever makes a few doozy mistakes and doesn’t always treat people fairly but the teens in Loveboat, Taipei are so authentically written. There is not one thing that happened in this book that I haven’t seen happen during my teen years. As messy as it was – it did not feel over-the-top to me.

The friendships, hook-ups are high drama and I had issues with each and every character at one point or another but they are dealing with pretty intense things (depression, learning disabilities just to name a few) and I think they did great for teens trying to learn and grow. Every single one grew over the course of the book and I’d be happy to read more about any of them.

The kids come from varying backgrounds but all are burdened by expectations and responsibilities they are trying to navigate with little support from the adults around them. But Wen doesn’t create cartoon villain parents. They are written with both flaws and heart. They do pressure their kids but they have also made enormous sacrifices and it was nice to see Ever and her parents navigation of those issues written in a compassionate way.

And watching Ever stumble but find her way back and grow into an even stronger, kinder young woman – who believes in herself but honors her parents was a joy to read. It's been a while since I finished a book with a huge smile on my face but Loveboat, Taipei did just that.

* I listened to the audio of this, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller and she was fantastic!

26 comments:

  1. I've been seeing this a lot and I'm quite interested to try it but I'm also fairly done with reading YA drama. But it sounds like an easy, quick, and somewhat light read. Might consider it when I get int he mood for some YA contemporary.

    czai @ the Blacksheep Reader

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    1. It is FILLED with drama lol but it felt authentic to me and everyone grew over the course of the book so I didn't mind but your mileage might vary lol

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  2. At least the drama is authentic...you know I'm not into it, but this might speak true to a teen.

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    1. It's not something I would typically like but I really enjoyed how well it was written.

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  3. I feel like I was prepared for all the drama, because the synopsis referenced Crazy Rich Asians, which was so OTT. But, maybe you're right. Because the characters all grew so much and because it all came across as plausible teenaged antics, it was ok to have all that drama. I was very pleased that we got to know what direction all the main players were heading. I felt invested in all their storylines, and it meant a lot to me, that Wen tied up all those ends.

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    1. I was prepared for the OTT but it was less so than I was expecting - or I should say - I was expecting far flung scenarios but this felt really rooted in the typical teen experience to me.

      I loved the solid ending as well.

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  4. What a shock that must have been for her. The strict school she thinks she's going to turns out to be a party place. Sounds fun.

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    1. I really hated her parents at first and how stupid to send your really good teen to a place where she can run wild (not that they knew that) lol But the author did well explaining the parents and dealing with that relationship.

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  5. I love the idea that this book balances a young person coming into her own but also gaining respect for her parents.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Yeah- it's something not usually written so well. I really disliked how the parents treated her at first but it shows Ever getting a backbone - even to her parents - while still respecting what they have given up for her.

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  6. All the drama brings to mind the teen dramas I watched in the 80’s and 90’s like 90210 and Dawson’s Creek. :) Sounds like these kids are dealing with a lot, though, and they’re trying to muddle their way through it. And crappy decision making is just part of the process. Glad the audio version was such a hit!

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    1. I think any time you have a group of teens away from home - centrally located - you're going to have drama lol

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  7. I mean it did get so annoyed that I put in a spoiler, but I still enjoyed the heck out of this :D Omg the drama, SO teen drama, and that is why I let everything slide. I was stupid as a teen

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    1. I saw your spoiler and I disagree with your ship lol Hopefully, they will get their own book. But it was fun all around - even with the drama.

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    2. Noooo. My ship is the best ship 😉

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    3. You're wrong lol

      I thought *they boy in question* was a little stalkery and didn't really know the girl enough. But I like him and think he grew enough to find the right girl - hopefully in the next book.

      But both guys were good and it didn't feel like a forced love triangle despite all the wild things going on.

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  8. I've seen this all over Instagram lately but haven't read any actual reviews before yours and I'm sold. This reminds me a little of Frankly in Love but with characters who learn and grow from their experiences, where Frankly in Love, there really wasn't any learning curve. I don't mind the drama, as long as it's realistic. My teen years felt super dramatic at the time as well, looking back it was all so trivial. Great review Karen, so glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. I think you would love this Kelly! IT's a bit lighter than what you usually read but still filled with important topics.

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  9. From your description, this does sound dramatic, but drama can be fun sometimes! Glad you liked it :-)

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    1. It is and I usually hate that but it felt authentic to me so I was all in lol

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  10. I'm curious about this one but the drama drama drama worries me! My current audiobook - Dark Tempest - is narrated by Emily Woo Zeller and I like her. :)

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    1. She was a great narrator. I can't lie - LOTS of drama lol but it felt realistic to me and they learned from their mistakes.

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  11. Great review darling!! Sometimes though DRAMA really works IF its actually written well. And it sounds like the author handled it so well. glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. For me, they have to learn over the course of the book and it can't get too far fetched/out of the realm of reality.

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  12. Even full of drama, I'm glad you really liked this one! I like when books have realistically written characters.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  13. See, I don't know if I will like this one. Sometimes I absolutely LOVE drama even if it is a bit eyerollingly ridiculous. I could still live for it :P But then sometimes it annoys me to no end so maybe this is one I need to be in the perfect mood for...

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