Hardcover: 325 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc (30th May 2017)
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.
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Be still my beating heart. This book. Ok. THIS BOOK. WAS SO STINKING CUTE. High high praise, but this has to be one of, if not the, fav contemporary of mine this year (unless of course something even more awesomeballs comes along in the last month, you just never know). I loved this book so much, I laughed so hard and so often at nearly every page. Do you even know how many passages I highlighted as I snorted my way through? The whole book pretty much. I don’t even know where to start with this review, so many things. Such love, much wow. I mean truth be told, there were some small, very very smollllll things I didn’t like about the book, which of course I shall talk about, but this book fully warrants the 5 stars in my eyes for sheer enjoyability and laugh inducing moments.
Reason 1 to love this book:
K Dramas. My best friend *Shaida, if you’re reading this, wag1 son* is absolutely obsessed with anything Korean. Through friendship osmosis, I’ve actually come to admire and love korean food, music, culture and even ventured into watching my first K Drama, Descendants of the Sun (so good, by the way). So imagine my ABSOLUTE thrill when I realise the main character in this book is Korean, and becomes equally obsessed with K Dramas? I’ve read a few books in which the main character is asian, and somehow it never really felt authentic in the same way Desi feels in this book, and the Korean culture as I have come to know it, felt really encapsulated in this book - from the way her Dad is, the way he acts, and his relationship with Desi, which I adored.
Reason 2 to love this book: (yep this is fully going to be a list)
Desi’s character. Man oh man could I relate to this girl wholeheartedly. I am very much a plan-orientated, step by step person, always armed with a list, backup ideas, and iron willpower to achieve that end goal. I put very much the same effort into studying as Desi did, and I use that very dedicated will in achieving everything else in life. Have I ever used that mission plan in pursuing a boy and getting him to fall in love with me? NOPE *echoes loudly in the empty boyfriend chamber* but you best believe if I ever thought to, I would do it the same way Desi did. Observe a case study (in this case, Desi used Korean dramas and the romances in them), make notes on what was successful from that case, what was unsuccessful, curate those singular items into a step by step outline, relating to your own male species in mind and own circumstance. Then - execute. Monitor progress. (.. oh so nerdy and I LOVE it).
Problematic instance 1: (but not enough reason to put off loving this book):
However, where I draw the line and my gripe with this, was actually the extent to which Desi goes to, in achieving her mission. There are moments where she puts her safety and others safety on the line, simply to follow through on the steps to her plan - which despite this being a book, and one not to be taken too seriously or literally, I still couldn’t get on board with the antics, and feel alternative, safe and still equally funny events could have replaced those that were actually dangerous. Doesn’t matter if Desi is a girl and is using such means to achieve her ends, if you flip this and a guy was doing such things in pursuit of getting a girl - I would be shaking my head in the same vehement manner. In the K-Drama sense of it and the world it encapsulates, as said in the book itself, her behaviour may not seem as drastic, but looking at it in terms of the larger picture, and what this means for a contemporary novel as a whole - these elements shouldn’t be okay in the book.
Problematic instance 2: (but again, not enough reason to put off loving this book):
Likewise, as much as I laughed and loved her dedication in making a plan, and again, this isn’t something to be taken seriously, but really and honestly, love and affection cannot be attained through making a plan and thinking following through those steps will get you what you want. Character, fate, the big cheese up above (aka God), and of course, the guy in question - is what determines whether he will fall for Desi or not - not the list and plan.
Back to reasons to love this book:
So. The cover - hello gorgeous. This very much reminds me of Jenny Han’s, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series with the character on the front, the colour scheme and the font - but I really didn’t like Jenny Han’s series and much much prefer this book. I LOVED this book. So there’s that. Additional things that are currently pouring into my head from this book are as follows: refreshingly, the high school portrayed in this book isn’t a cliche pot of jocks vs nerds and the like. It reminded me a lot of my high school actually, where, yeah sure we had separate groups, the artsy crowd, the popular crowd, the nerdy ones - but like in most YA stories, it wasn’t war of the worlds when it came to these groups mixing, people just got along. I really liked that about this book - these teens just got on with life and school. Also. OH MY. The best thing about this book? (aside from ALL of it) is the use of the name Won Bin as a nickname. I died at this scene. I died a lot throughout this book actually, from just sheer enjoyment and laughter. The constant use of death threats. The ‘shit eating grin’ passage. The ‘cutie dum dum’ moment. The humour was dry, witty and sarcastic. My FAV kind and I full out enjoyed this book so much.
I can’t wait to read more from this author. If there’s anything to take away from my ever-usual long and hefty rambling review, is that this is an adorable and HILARIOUS (hilarious x 2 to emphasise this point) book with lovely characters and a great story. Pick it up and be sure to thank me in the form of marshmallows delivered to my door. Cheerio. I shall leave you with some (and I don’t say that lightly, as I really had over 40 passages highlighted of my favourite parts) of the best parts from the book. Enjoy! .. and again, you can thank me with marshmallows. Me kiddeth not.
So I tried to muster a kind rejection. But instead, I felt a cough coming on. I put my hand to my chest and shut my mouth tight—no, this was NOT the time.
But there are just some things that have a force of their own.
So I coughed. Really hard.
And that phlegm that had been rattling in my chest all day?
Landed right on the front of his crisp, striped shirt.
“Discuss why Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was social criticism for its time. And lay off the fart jokes! We all know how bawdy the wanker was.”
“Shut up,” I said with another involuntary giggle. But when I turned around, Luca was walking toward me, backpack on correctly now. I froze. And apparently, whenever Luca walked toward me, the world moved in slow-motion. He pushed the beanie out of his eyes with glacial speed. By the time he finally reached me, we had already dated, married, and sent our two daughters off to college tearfully. Giggles immediately dissipated.
My fashion sweatpants fell off. In a puddle at my feet.
I looked down. Luca looked down. I looked up. Luca was still looking down.
And I heard Wes yelp, “Are you kidding?”
I pulled them up and ran. Like the wind.
Confidence boosted, I decided to actually try flirting. Lord, here I go. I gently bumped my hip against his. He looked over at me lickety-split, surprised. I smiled. “I’m a nerd that can clearly outrun you. Can you handle the rest of the walk back to the bus or do you need me to carry you?”
I flushed—while my friends were being kind, I suddenly felt like I was fishing for compliments. “Well, I am the best soccer player to have ever lived,” I said breezily. “Not counting Messi.”
*fist pump, she mentioned Messi, my fav footballer like EVER*
Luca did that car-backing-up thing where you twist your entire body to the right and drape your arm across the back of the passenger seat. Where I was sitting. His hand brushed lightly against my hair and I got a whiff of boy sweat and breath mints. Somehow an intoxicating yet gross cocktail.
[appreciate the fact he didn’t smell like sandalwood like all YA boys seem to]
Finding yourself fitting into the negative space of someone else’s body perfectly.
*I adore this whole concept of negative and positive space and body - echoed in Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index*