ARC REVIEW: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen 💭 while I’m not in the boat with love, it was still a decent read

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Title: Loveboat, Taipei
Author: Abigail Hing Wen
Pages: 432

Release Date: January 7th 2020
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Contemporary
Goodreads Rating:  4.38 (of 133 ratings)

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Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen, and praised as “an intense rush of rebellion and romance” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Garber, this romantic and layered Own Voices debut from Abigail Hing Wen is a dazzling, fun-filled romp.

“Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turnGone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.crowns

review

Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of HarperTeen at Yallfest 2019. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

My head is like the bubble tea in this book (and that they were handing out at Yallfest with these) – super milky with maybe some tapioca balls of thoughts. However, unlike bubble tea, my brain will most likely not be able to create some cohesive deliciousness. This is most likely just going to just me rambling about how I don’t know how I feel about it because there was some amazing greats but some depressing lows?

💖 Things I Loved 💖

💖 The Setting! Omigosh, this was so immersive. I felt like I really was there in Taipei with Ever. I really felt so drawn in, and I loved basking in the the whole atmosphere. It was lush, and I honestly can create such vivid images in my head. I am in love, and I would instantly go back to this setting in a heartbeat.

💖 The Culture! Ever grapples with her culture throughout the story. She’s a girl that has lived in America all of her life, but when she is in Taipei, she learns so much about her Taiwanese culture. Hing Wen infuses so much of it into the story that it creates such a wonderful dimension to the story.

💖 Ever’s Journey! Ever works through a lot in this novel. She goes on physical, emotional, and mental journeys. She is working through her parents’ rejection of her dancing dreams, her first loves, her first taste of freedom, and more. This is a true coming of age story, and it really showcases a lot of growing pains that many young adults will completely resonate with.

💖 The Writing! The writing is quite easy to read and follow. I really did fly through it pretty easily, and it has a pretty good flow.

💖 The Characters! All of them were pretty unique and had their own distinct personalities. You can definitely see the psychology behind them and why they do the things they do. I really connected with Ever – especially in the second half – and I liked Rick probably the second most. Hing Wen did a fantastic job of making her characters human and realistically flawed.

Things I’m Milky Tea About

A lot of heavy material, light on time. This book takes a lot of big topics – leaking of nude images, parental abuse, domestic violence, suicide attempts, depression, and more. There is so much content that are big, impactful material that can be quite triggering. However, they are used as random side plots throughout the narrative, usually to further along side characters’ stories/characterization. There are a lot of other stories going on at the same time with all of these added in.

Therefore, I felt like we just didn’t have time to deal with a lot of these heavy, important topics in the proper way. It was kind of like The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali for me. There was just so much thrown in there that when I wanted to deal with something, we would kind of move onto something else. However, this one took far more time to deal with it than the other novel I mentioned, but I still think that it needed more instead of just being a side topic along with a lot of other intense side topics. I’m glad that Hing Wen did include a lot of real issues that teens are dealing with – especially leaking of nudes, which is something that I’ve never seen in a book before but a real, real problem faced by many people in the world – but to repeat this broken record, more time, please. 

Many pages, many problems. Anytime you do a 400+ contemporary novel, it could go a bit dicey. I have yet to read a 400 page realistic fiction novel that really keeps me invested for the whole thing. It just got a bit slow at times, and at times, I felt like things were thrown in there just to keep the page count going.

Tropes, Soap Operas, and Cliches – Oh MY: Taipei edition. This sometimes felt like a soap opera at times. And because in my younger years, I was obsessed with them: I could pick up a lot of the plot twists. I called a few of the big ones, because it got to be decently cliche. Yes, it was a campy cheesy read at times, which can be enjoyable, but the classic mean girl trope or the bad boy trope, etc. – it just got a bit tiring after a while.

Overall, this book had some great highs and some great lows for me. It ends up falling right in the middle for me.

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belle

rating: Belle – some ups, some downs, but overall, good.
representation:
Asian MCs (Taiwanese, Chinese – main but there are other Asian countries represented)
content warnings: leaking of nudes, domestic violence, cheating, attempted suicide, abusive parent (not graphic), depression, drinking
read this if you: if you love Bachelor in Paradise but would like it more diverse, coming of age, and tackling hard hitting issues

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What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

mandybanner

7 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen 💭 while I’m not in the boat with love, it was still a decent read

  1. I don’t necessarily disagree, that this had quite a bit of soapy drama contained therein, but when I saw the description of a YA Crazy Rich Asians thrown around for this book, I sort of knew what I signed up for, and because of that, I was ok with the OTT stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG i’m so happy that someone else did not completely fall into the hype train with this book! While I did like it, I definitely did not join the ‘love’ boat. I agree so much that this book tried to tackle too many things at once! It wasn’t super glaringly bad that I had to call it out in my review—and I appreciate what the author was trying to do—but I thought that the way the topics were handled could’ve been done better. Remember that once scene where a young man walks into the hotel asking for the onsen and then the characters call him out on his racism? that scene was blatantly just there so that the characters could discuss racism against Asians, and while I appreciated it, it so wasn’t subtle lmao.

    Also, the pacing was the main thing that prevented me from loving this book so much! Ugh, this book easily could’ve been cut down to 300 pages :((

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! I’ve been seeing a bunch of all the stars reviews, and I was like, oh no. How did I end up in the middle of it?? And OMG YES. I forgot that scene – probably because there was just so much packed in there and definitely some of them were not subtle indeed other than to deal with the social issue. Again, definitely appreciated it and it wasn’t terrible, but it was just a lot.

      and soooooooooooooooo much agreement.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Mandy! I’m glad you enjoyed this one for the most part! Although I find it odd that the book was 400+ pages but it couldn’t go in-depth with some of the heavy stuff…

    Like

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