on May 30th 2017
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 received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Well, this was a lot of fun! I Believe in a Thing Called Love features a bit of a ridiculous premise, but it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience, and, of course, a pretty swoonworthy romance.
The plot of this one is simple: our main character, Desi, hatches a plan to win the heart of a hot new guy at her high school. She bases this “foolproof” plan on the formulaic plots of the Korean dramas she grew up watching with her dad. As you might imagine, sheer hilarity ensues.
Let’s start with the characters. Desi was a main character that I found really easy to root for. There were so many moments throughout the course of this book where I was just mortified for her because of the obstacles she ran into while implementing her K drama plan. I really love that her relationship with her dad played a big role in the story, too. Their relationship was wonderful! He just had that endearing dad quality. Plus, the nods to Korean culture, including food and K dramas, were wonderful additions to the book.
As for Desi’s friends, I do wish they had been a bit more three-dimensional. They really only served to further Desi’s quest for romance, offering her advice or helping her execute some of the steps of her plan. Luca as a love interest was okay, but he felt extremely cliched to me. I mean, how many times have I seen the tortured artist with family drama as the love interest in YA? There was nothing particularly wrong with him; he’s just not the type of guy I normally swoon over
and I also kinda thought Desi could do better than him. All things considered, though, watching Desi and Luca’s relationship develop over the course of the novel was endlessly entertaining. And super duper adorable.
I loved the setup of I Believe in a Thing Called Love— each chapter was based on a step of Desi’s K drama plan. I loved seeing Desi try to orchestrate each step of the plan in a real-life context, and honestly, I was often pleasantly surprised at how well she was able to translate these cliche, made-for-TV moments into her own everyday life. I’ve never watched a K drama (though I have plenty of friends who have fallen down that rabbit hole), but after reading this book, I totally want to start one! Luckily, the book included a handy-dandy recommendations guide in the back! Such a cute addition. The author’s love for K dramas definitely shone through in this story! I Believe in a Thing Called Love largely reads like a love letter to this form of entertainment.
One negative thing I’d like to mention: characters in this book often throw around the words “crazy,” “insane,” and even “demented” to describe Desi’s actions and her plan. This is a constant throughout the story, and it’s never addressed. This language is pretty ableist, and can be really hurtful towards people (like myself) who live with mental illness. Our illnesses and behaviors are already stigmatized enough as it is, and I really don’t appreciate these stereotypes being perpetuated in YA novels targeted toward a teen audience. I read an ARC, so I sincerely hope some of this language is omitted from or changed in the finished copy. But, since I don’t know for sure, take care if you pick this book up and you struggle with any sort of mental illness.
Despite some problems I had with the story and the ableist language present, I think I Believe in a Thing Called Love will make a great summer read for many readers. Definitely look into this one if you love contemporary and/or K dramas!
Have you read I Believe in a Thing Called Love? If so, let’s discuss in the comments! If not, do you plan to pick it up?
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