Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
Maybe for a quick light read that won’t really linger, if you don’t know much about Taiwan you’ll get a small dose of history along with the YA drama and antics
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?
This book wasn’t particularly mindblowing, but I guess I didn’t expect it to be with the word “Loveboat” in the title. I had to know there would be a little bit of cheese with this. xD Which is fine, and there definitely was. It was ok, and it read quickly so it’s not like I spent a lot of time of a middle of the road read.
I appreciated that we got right into the interesting part of the story where Ever ends up in Taiwan very quickly. The quick pace made this pretty easy to plow through, and there was a lot of plot progression the whole way through. That’s primarily what carried me along, as I didn’t really care for any of the characters, to be honest. Ever was kind of stupid in some decisions she made, which, okay, she’s a fairly sheltered teen on her own for the first time, that’s bound to happen! But it was still kind of painful and frustrating to watch her blow things up sometimes. xD
Even though there are characters who do cruel or mean things to set them as a villain in the story, there’s always some good side shown at some point to redeem them a bit. I liked that way of showing that everyone is complex and gray. There’s definitely a theme of not judging folks because you don’t know what they’re going through, which was one of the aspects that made me like this. Kindness was ultimately a focus, even though it didn’t always seem it.
There’s a little bit of history of Taiwan and Taipei specifically, which resonated considering this is now the third book in a row I’ve read set there or about Taiwanese characters. Not sure how that happened, but it’s given me a fun experience of connecting each of their different kinds of stories to the larger story of Taiwan (which is always good but particularly timely now with recent news). Anyway, this book was ok and kind of forgettable with no reason to read the next one assuming it’s a continuation of this story, but despite that I was cheering Ever on and hoping for it to all work out.
6 thoughts on “Review: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen”
Great review! I’ve seen some pretty mixed things about this and I got the feeling that you either love or hate it but it seems that you can be on the middle ground too 😂 Sounds like it’s a “fun and fluffy” read despite not having the most likeable characters.
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Haha yes I was pretty solidly lukewarm. If I’d had to return this as a library book in the middle of reading, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to finish it, but since it was here, *shrug* I’ve seen some people disappointed that the setting didn’t actually come to life much either, which was a shame for sure