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?
Title : Loveboat, Taipei
Author : Abigail Hing Wen
Series : Loveboat, Taipei #1
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Simon & Schuster
Release Date : January 7, 2019
Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star read
LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI had a narrative voice that just shouted ‘give me more’ vibes and I enjoyed the reading experience. I’ve heard this book heralded as a more mature & Taiwanese ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ and it did give me some of those vibes at times. This is a more mature YA from a sexual perspective but the characters weren’t always mature in their decisions and actions.
This book brought an enjoyable coupling of American-Asian and authentic Taiwan culture as the protagonist Ever was sent to a summer school in Taipei. The students were all sent by their parents for a summer immersion into the language and customs, but that was not the focus for the students. They were rebellious rabble-rowsers, looking to hook-up, drink alcohol, have fun and break the rules.
Dress like a Nun
Curfew of Ten
No Wasting Money
No Dancing with a Boy
No Kissing Boys
A triangle emerged that I wasn’t super excited about but in actuality, it was pretty palatable. Xavier and Rick were two very different characters and the more I got to know them both, the more I thought they were both great friends and potential boyfriends for Ever. There was a lack of tying up of ends in one direction and I am really hoping that book two will journey down this character’s path.
There were friendships that seemed empowering and positive and there were friends to hate with a passion. I struggled a little with Ever’s quick forgiveness and I’m still holding a grudge.
This book is generally fun but it did tackle some serious topics of domestic abuse and exploitation (of which, I’m not going to elaborate on). I appreciated that Abigail Hing Wen actually ‘went there’ with sexual relationships rather than glossing over or pretending that things wouldn’t go that far. This made it a much more tangible story.
I think this was a great author debut and I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book. I enjoyed the Taiwan context as I knew little about the country but I now know just a little more.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for the early proof copy.