REVIEW: 'Loveboat, Taipei' by Abigail Hing Wen was Beautiful But It Was Missing Something Important
Hello Fellow Readerholics,
Today is a good day. It has been exactly one year since I started this blog and it is ‘Confessions of A Readerholic’s official first birthday! Yay, she’s one (I’ve decided that this blog can be a girl, idk why but that’s how its going to be)! I don’t know if ‘blog years’ are a thing but I feel like they should be because it feels like I’ve been on here for so much longer than a year. A big thanks to you guys for making it a wonderful year of blogging! Anyways, to celebrate I think I’ll post a bunch of new reviews this week as I have had quite the February. To kick off the celebrations, I am reviewing ‘Loveboat, Taipei’ by Abigail Hing Wen.
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?
So I’ll start by saying I had pretty high expectations of this book. I bought it almost as soon as it was released and there was a lot of hype surrounding it on instagram. I’m pleased to say that in some ways it definitely lived up to what I had expected, in others though, not so much.
I really appreciated the representation of Asians in this book and it pretty cool to read a YA contemporary book set in Asia, specifically, Taiwan. I thought it was great how most, if not all, the characters were of Asian descent because it’s important for everyone to have that kind of representation. The book was extremely immersive and rich in Taiwanese culture. It was really great to have Ever’s perspective as she had never been to Taipei so things like the setting were described through ‘fresh eyes’.
I quite liked all of the characters and Ever had a great ‘voice’ which was super helpful. I found that this novel had a lot of fairly monumental character arcs and Ever changed so much throughout the book and really grew into her own person which was so nice to see. All of the other characters, including more minor roles were still well ‘carved out’ and were unique people and helpful to the plot.
This book is what I consider to be something g of a contemporary romance that features a love triangle. This always makes me nervous because my main problem with love triangles is that authors will often make one love interest do something terrible or be generally unlikeable in order for a decision to be made. I find this pretty lazy so I was pleasantly surprised for both of Ever’s love interests to be genuinely good people with minor flaws to maintain realism. Both of the guys were pretty great for Ever and I was happy with who she chose.
Before I get into some negatives, please notice, THE COVER. It is an absolute work of art :))
In the book, Ever’s parents are extremely strict and controlling to a point where that just can’t be healthy. Ever was constantly burdened by overwhelmingly high expectations from her parents and following feelings of guilt for not being ‘the perfect daughter’. Towards the end, Ever’s parents did eventually loosen some of the burdens they’d faced her with but I still feel like this novel lacked some majorly important conversations between them. Ever’s relationship with her parents was extremely toxic but it was glossed over by the love triangle and a new city. I just felt that something as important and pressing as a toxic relationship shouldn’t be cast aside for romance. Particularly in a book that is over 400 pages.
Another thing that bothered me was the actions of Sophie and Ever’s willingness to forgive her. Without spoiling anything, Ever’s friend/roommate did something that I would consider to be almost unforgivable (in my books at least). I don’t know if I’m just really petty (likely) but I felt that Ever was too quick to forgive even though they still didn’t have a good, proper conversation about the issue. I always think that it’s best to reconcile a friendship if possible but I also think that it can be a good thing to let people go if they don’t value your worth. I think I’m just sick of everyone coming back together and being friends in YA contemporary, it’s good to let toxic people go.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and surprisingly fast paced but I feel it lacked substance. I’m rating it a 3.8.
Your Favourite Bookworm