Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maureen Goo
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)
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 Believe in a Thing Called Love is funny and smart, full of charm and sass. Full of awkward flailing and bizarre situations. But Desi's on a mission, armed with a list and a never-giving-up attitude, and she's not about to back down.
Desi is a classic overachiever. She's got excellent grades, she's involved in almost every extracurricular activity her high school has to offer, she's got great friends, an awesome and supportive dad, and her future is completely planned out. She's ready for Standford, ready to become a doctor like her late mother. She's smart, friendly, kind of geeky. The only area she's lacking in is the boyfriend department because whenever a cute guy tries to ask her out, Desi turns into a disaster that sends him running. But then she meets Luca, then she feels a zing that she's never felt with any guy before. Then they flirt a little and another disaster happens. So she decides to take matters into her own hands, to study the Korean dramas her dad watches and formulate a plan. Because at the end of those dramas, the girl and the guy always end up together.
I don't watch K dramas, I don't think I've ever seen one, but this book makes me want to check them out. Every type of show or movie all over the world has certain tropes, certain events or characters that are bound to pop up. Here the author takes K dramas, explains them enough for the uninitiated, and lets Desi go full out when it comes to planning out how to make Luca realize they're meant to be. It's a combination of the charm and appeal of K dramas and how unlikely it is that those tropes would ever work outside of a script. But when Desi has a plan, she doesn't turn her back on it.
This book, especially Desi's voice, has wonderful charm. It's a personable, timeless kind of charm, something reminiscent of romantic comedies of the 90's and early 00's. There were moments of humour and sorrow, of confusion and understanding, of affection and anger. There was awkwardness, because there's always awkwardness, but it never felt painful or forced (as much as as it could be when Desi has certain situations planned out so much). The story has great progression, ups and downs and turns. I would definitely recommend this to fans of YA contemporary romances, to those who love a little drama. Especially K dramas.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)