Apparently I’ve developed insomnia, so I read this one during one of the nights I couldn’t sleep. Yes- the whole book. In about 4-5 hours.
Miserable as I was the next day after getting very little sleep, it was a good diversion as the night went on.
I recently read The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo and liked it, so I decided to check out one of her earlier books from the library.
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.
Much love for this cover, first of all! It is without a doubt a YA cover, but I love the pops of color amid the neutral background. I know they say to not judge a book by its cover but admit it- you do it too sometimes.
Beyond the cover, I found this book really cute and entertaining. I can appreciate the helpful power of lists, and Desi definitely takes this to heart by making her “K Drama Steps to True Love” list to win over Luca. Desi’s antics are certainly over the top and more than a little crazy, but for the most part they are comical and weirdly endearing. Towards the end it gets a bit extreme and over the top for me, but throughout the majority of the book she is funny.
Luca Drakos is the quintessential bad boy character- tall, dark, and handsome with an air of mystery around him. I thought his character was pretty well-rounded, especially considering the book is a YA romance and he is the male love interest.
Things I liked:
- Desi is unapologetically smart and hardworking. There are a few instances in the book where people call her out for being an overachiever and she simply agrees with them. She doesn’t try to shy away from it, saying she’s just lucky. She puts her all into everything she does so she can perfect it. I think this is a really good message to spread to girls. Working hard and being involved is something to be proud of, not something to brush away.
- Desi and her father have a really sweet relationship. It is clear through their banter and the small acts they do for each other that they are very closely bonded. I really liked that Desi wasn’t embarassed about her dad’s broken English or his job as a mechanic. I feel like some authors would have used these characteristics as a hurdle the main characters needs to jump over, but Maurene Goo just uses them to create a character. Desi and her dad both care about one another, and I love that they were able to bond more throughout the book.
- The book is overall pretty funny and weirdly relatable, not that I’ve used K dramas to make someone fall in love with me! Desi’s floundering around guys she likes is something I think we can all relate to on some level, and Maurene Goo really plays off this. I liked Desi’s sarcastic quips and the situations she creates that ultimatley backfire on her in some way. She made the book really entertaining and a good summer read.
Things I wasn’t crazy about:
- Desi got pretty obsessed with her list, and that made some of the situations very cringey and awkward for me as a reader. (Minor spoiler: Take, for example, when Desi jumps into the pool at the end and pretends to be drowning just to get Luca close to her. This is pretty messed up and it made me uncomfortable reading it. Desi became less “in love” and more obsessed and willing to do anything to get this guy to talk to her. I was very surprised when he forgave her so quickly afterward.) Some of these things makes Desi seem so childish and obsessed, which made me not like her as much as I thought I would.
- Luca and Desi’s relationship seemed to come out of the blue. Obviously the relationship is the book’s plot, but the details of it get kind of lost. One minute they are just meeting in class and the next they are seeing each other regularly. There wasn’t really a transitional moment that changed their relationship from friendly to friends, much less from friendly to dating. There were some scenes that I think tried to imply making this transition, but it was lost in Desi’s thoughts and actions concerning the list.
- Because Desi gets so obsessed with her list, the writing seems pretty childish at times, even for a YA romance. Take the following passage, for example: “I splashed a bit more, halfheartedly this time, and reached for the net. When I grabbed it, I decided to add a bit of flopping-around flair–tossing my body backward so that my head went underwater again. But in doing that, I pulled extra-hard on the skimmer, and heard a loud splash…Well, okay, not exactly what I pictured but great, now he could actually pull me out.” I mean, what happened to the girl who was unapologetically smart? Pretending to drown is definitely not smart. Her desperation made me not like her character and made the writing more childish, which is not how I was hoping the book would turn out.
As you can see, I have a few pretty big issues with the book. Although I liked the concept and initially liked the characters, Desi’s obsession and desperation with her list and Luca really brought down the plot and the writing. It was a nice light summer read for 1 in the morning, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for after reading The Way You Make Me Feel.