Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Blurb from 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’ll be honest and go straight to saying I wasn’t thoroughly shipping Desi and Luca. I wasn’t rooting for them. Nor was I convinced by the romance. But damn if this book wasn’t funny! It’s light-hearted and hilarious like most K-drama series I’ve watched. This is actually the first book I’ve read that involves K-drama and so I find this unique in that way. It reminds me of those days when I would stay awake binge-watching these Korean series while everyone else in the house is snoring. That was before I became a full-on bookworm.
Desi Lee is an over-achiever. She is quite successful in everything she puts her mind into but there’s one thing she fails terribly at—getting a boyfriend. It’s kind of cute watching Desi try to put an end to her “flailures” by making a K-Drama based guideline on how to get the boy. But I hated how she took it very seriously to the point that she became controlling and manipulative. I understand that in most Korean dramas the heroines were always put in extreme situations, does extreme measures to survive, which leads to the heroes taking notice of them. But does Desi really have to put her life and someone else’s life in harm’s way for the sake of romance? Not once but three times! If I was Desi’s love interest, the things she did would have sent me in the opposite direction and never come back. Because that was just sick.
Desi’s friends—Wes and Fiona—are adorable. They’re the kind of friends you would like for yourself. And Wes just finds my funny bone every time he throws a line. I envied how they support each other in everything, particularly Desi’s quest for love. But supporting your best friend should also have its limits—in Desi’s case at least. You don’t help them stage a car accident because it could go terribly wrong and someone could be badly injured, or die, as a result.
“Sometimes you just have to accept the shit that life hands you.”
Luca, the handsome and hot art genius—also the guy that Desi relentlessly pursues—wasn’t even that different from the generic young adult love interests. I honestly couldn’t think of anything that separates him from all the other YA leads in store. Also I like to see my protagonists inspiring each other even in small ways. Like, I want to see them both doing better because of the other despite the hiccups in their relationship. Here though, I only saw Desi losing sight of one of her major goals in life because of Luca. Her, making poor decisions, giving up something she had studied hard and prepared for her whole life, for Luca. Such a waste of opportunity!
“You cannot control who you love, but you can always control how hard you fight.”
As I’ve said, I’m not a fan of the romance in this book. It’s thin and the chemistry between Desi and Luca was next to nothing. They just lack that substance that makes a romance compelling. That three and a half stars you see at the bottom of this post? It’s for everything but the romance. Of course, there’s the humor mostly found in Desi’s thoughts and in her interactions with Wes. There’s all the cute K-drama references—some I’ve already watched and loved. There’s also the inclusion of Korean culture—we glimpse what it’s like inside a Korean home, there’s mention of Korean food and how they’re prepared, and there were even skin care tips from Desi. But what I adored most of all is Desi’s relationship with her father. It was absolutely sweet and enviable. They were like best friends but with the kind of respect and support that can only be seen between parents and their children.
“Unexpected things happen. But it’s how we react to them, how we learn and evolve from these things that shapes us into who we are.”
Sweet endings are always the thing for this genre. And while I love seeing two people chose to forgive and love each other in the end, I couldn’t help but notice how easily Desi got away with everything she did. Luca forgive her rather quickly—just moments after he almost drowned because of Desi’s act—and therefore resolving the biggest conflict in this book. The lack of accountability on Desi’s part, for her actions, made the supposedly sweet ending go bland. After endangering Luca’s life three times, the guy deserves more than just the words “I’m sorry”.
I Believe In A Thing Called Love is not a must read for me. But it’s fluffy and funny. It certainly did put a smile on my face a few times. I’ve had a few issues but that’s the adult me. I have a feeling that I would’ve enjoyed this more if I’ve read this as a teen.