on January 7, 2020
Series: Loveboat Taipei #1
Genres: Young Adult, contemporary, Romance
Source: Finished Hardcover from Publisher
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?
Loveboat, Taipei is a young adult contemporary romance book, and is the first book in the Loveboat, Taipei series by debut author Abigail Hing Wen. I am super excited to see that this is going to be a series, likely of interconnected standalones, because I loved Loveboat, Taipei. It follows a group of young adults at a summer school in Taiwan. If you read the author’s note, it was extra special because this program is something the author actually participated in. In fact, it is where she met her husband! I loved that real life connection, and it made me even more excited to read this book.
Loveboat, Taipei follows a group of students at this summer program, but the main focus is on our main character Ever. I loved Ever. I found her to be a very relatable teenager, and watching her and her new found friends explore what the next phase of their post-high school life holds was simply magical. This book was so much fun. When Ever gets to Taiwan, she soon discovers that this is nothing like the strict school she(and her parents, no doubt) imagined. No, no- it is basically one giant party, complete with hookups, sneaking out and plenty of care free summer fun. And while Loveboat, Taipei is a lot fun, there are also plenty of more serious themes explored in this novel. Abigail Hing Wen managed to mix in the serious topics with the levity of summer romance in a wonderful way that never felt bogged down with the heavy subject matter, but at the same time did not minimize the seriousness of the issues presented to the characters. There was a great balance. Watching Ever learn more about herself and figure out what she really wanted out of the next phase of her life was super satisfying. And Ever was not the only character that we got to see such growth from. The whole gang learned and experienced so much throughout the course of this novel. I honestly enjoyed reading about all of the characters, which is not always the case for me. I sometimes have a tendency to get attached to the main character, not care too much about the secondary plotlines, but here I enjoying reading about everyone and taking a peek into their life. They each grew in their own ways and pretty much all of the characters encountered some obstacle or had a growth/learning moment throughout the novel, and all of them added to the story in a meaningful way.
The romance in Loveboat, Taipei was fantastic. I loved that I honestly had no idea what was going to happen. I will note that there is a bit of love triangle, and maybe even a hint of a love quadrangle but honestly was so wonderful! I got swept up in the romance and the excitement of a summer romance and I was on the edge of my seat to see how the book would pivot and where the romance would end up. And let me just say that I was so happy with the way it turned out! I can’t wait to see what is going to happen in the next book. I am not sure if we are going to follow a completely new group of summer students or if we are going to revisit this cast of characters. I am personally hoping that we get to re-visit these characters because I honestly enjoyed the whole group of them. If you are a fan of fun summer romances featuring a whole cast of well developed characters, I think Loveboat, Taipei has a wonderful balance of serious topics and lighthearted romance. This was a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 New Release Challenge
- Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge 2020