I don’t know what’s happened in the past few days, but it actually seems like I’ve remembered how to read! Which is super exciting and is something I’m absolutely going to be taking advantage of. But instead of continuing to work my way through my Netgalley shelf (as I should be doing), I saw that Loveboat, Taipei was 99p on Kindle and could not resist picking it up. In less than 24 hours, I’ve gone on a whole emotional rollercoaster with this story. And… now I’m going to talk about it.
Loveboat, Taipei is the story of a girl named Ever Wong, who has always been the only Asian-American in her class and has lived a lifetime under her parents’ heavy expectations. When she decides to spend her final summer before college getting her passion for dancing out of her system, ready to follow in her father’s footsteps of going to med-school, her plans are rapidly derailed- by a trip to a summer school in Taipei.
What Ever sees initially as a punishment, however, turns rapidly into the trip of a lifetime and a chance to live without parental restrictions, breaking every Wong family rule and getting in years’ worth of teenage rebellion before college begins.
This book is so much like Anna and the French Kiss that I’m finding it difficult not to draw excessive comparisons. Studying abroad, a love interest in a long-term relationship, insta-friendships, first-time clubbing experiences, rich kids with political connections and very teenage betrayals appear in both, and I saw so much in common that I guessed multiple times at what would happen next.
That being said, I’m going to try not to compare the two any further.
So. I found that I had a complicated relationship with Ever throughout this book. It seems that teenage rebellion was the entire purpose of the majority of the story and I loved seeing her journey to discovering the difference between purposely going against her parents to deciding what she truly wanted. Her character growth was huge and it was amazing to see how she developed and, likewise, how other characters including Xavier and Sophie particularly grew as well. My main issue was with just how stupid some of her rebellious decisions were. The book acknowledges this, which I appreciate, so I don’t fault Abigail Hing Wen at all for adding these elements to the story, but multiple times I wanted to scream at Ever to stop and think before doing anything.
What I really did love about Ever, though, was how strong her voice is throughout the entire book. Even when her decisions are wrong, she knows exactly what she wants and goes for it. A few times, she’s led astray, but I really appreciated that her passion, particularly for dance, never faltered throughout the entire plot. Her ability to own up to her mistakes was also very impressive.
The love triangle in this book was entertaining in a frustrating kind of way. Both boys were equally viable as love interests (though I, I’m sure like anyone else who reads this book, found myself developing some clear favouritism) and I found myself rooting for different couples at different times. In the end, I think(?) I was happy with the result on that front, but I definitely enjoyed the romantic ups and downs as the story went on.
I liked this book. It isn’t perfect, but it turned out to be a very moving story of how a young girl realises her true self and re-evaluates her relationship with life and her family. It was a very easy book to get through in a day and, if you’re looking for something that is somehow both incredibly light and still poignant, it could be just what you’re looking for.
If you want to read this book, you can grab a copy here.*
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2 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI by Abigail Hing Wen”
The triangle was a no-win for me, because I ended up really liking both boys, and thinking they both deserved to be “chosen”. It was sometimes horrifying to watch all Ever’s poor decision making, but I thought she learned a lot, and grew to appreciate her parents a lot more via the experience.
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I feel exactly the same about the triangle! The outcome was fine but I feel like the fact that either of the boys ended up ‘losing’ was disappointing because they were both so likeable in the end. In most other books, I pick a clear favourite, but this one was a little blurry. Have you written a review of this? I’d love to read more of your thoughts!