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Loveboat, Taipei #1

Loveboat, Taipei

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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?

432 pages, Paperback

First published January 7, 2020

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About the author

Abigail Hing Wen

5 books587 followers
Abigail Hing Wen is the New York Times bestselling author of Loveboat, Taipei, which is being adapted for film by the producers of Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before. She holds a BA from Harvard, a JD from Columbia Law School, and an MFA from the Vermont School of Fine Arts, and, like some of her characters, is obsessed with musicals and dancing. When she’s not writing stories or listening to her favorite scores, she is busy working in artificial intelligence in Silicon Valley, where she lives with her family. You can learn more about her at www.abigailhingwen.com. Follow on Instagram/Twitter/TikTok @abigailhingwen

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,148 reviews
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
456 reviews162k followers
Read
January 4, 2020
This was an excellent debut! I loved every bit of it. It's such an addictive read full of well built up characters & a plot full of surprises. There was so much drama going down and that's honestly what kept me reading. There was a great display of character growth with each of the characters and all the complicated relationships. I loved the group of characters that we spend time with & seeing how they all had come into their own by the end of the book. I can't say this book is perfect by any means, but if I were to rate this book on entertainment alone, I would give it 5/5 stars! I can't wait to read Abigail Hing Wen's next book!
Profile Image for emma.
1,780 reviews42.6k followers
November 2, 2022
I NEVER INTENDED FOR THIS TO HAPPEN.

The only reason I even looked at this book was to possibly add it to my wishlist, and then I saw the ebook was on sale for $4…

It all happened so fast.

It never should have been like this.

Mostly because this book was awful and I never should have read it.

This story is so unrelentingly dramatic that I had to take breaks. Like, I probably could have read it in 2-3 hours, and I was in a reading mood so I wanted to, but then I would catch myself frowning enormously / cringing so hard my shoulders were touching my ears / verbally berating fictional characters and have to stop and go get a cookie or otherwise heal my soul.

Quick synopsis so we can get into some complaints:

This book is about Ever, a girl who likes to dance except her dad wanted to be a doctor and couldn’t be, so now she has to be a doctor.

(Yes, the plot of this is the Disney Channel movie trope known as NO DAD, THAT WAS *YOUR* DREAM. Shoutout to cinema classic High School Musical's Troy Bolton.)

Anyway, Ever is sent to a summer-school type situation in Taiwan, which is really more like sexytimes nightclub camp. She makes a friend-ish named Sophie. She meets two hot men named Xavier and Rick, respectively. Drama ensues.

This is the story we follow.

Now let’s yell about it.

(WARNING: SPOILERS. And also ranting. And also some jokes which may be funny or not depending on whether you like me.) (The last two disclaimers can apply to all of my reviews.)

Here is a limited selection of some of the horrible nonsense things that happen in this book:
- more girl hate than you have ever encountered in your life
- emotional cheating
- and then physical cheating
- but both kinds of cheating are okay, because the person who is being cheated on has depression (???!?!?!?!)
- using someone for sex even though you know that person has feelings for you, but for some reason on day 1 you stereotyped that person as a player so it’s actually okay also
- related to the above: far be it from me to be a reverse-sexism crier but if Ever’s (the girl who was using someone for sex) and Xavier’s (the boy who had the Feelings) roles were reversed this would be a very different story
- a love square (!!!)
- one friend distributing another friend’s nudes as revenge porn, except actually that is okay too, because #friendship
- one of the first things we learn about Sophie is that she spends money like it’s nothing, but also her tragic backstory is that her family is super super poor??
- these people live together on one small campus and yet the number of times they can’t find each other to explain crucial things rivals the number of times I rolled my eyes during this (i.e., VERY MANY)
- a car accident that takes up literally all of 5 pages at the end
- relatedly, our homegirl Ever does a whole performance with an injured ankle and a just-dislocated shoulder
- Rick and Ever decide to be “Tour Buddies” (aka just friends) for…*checks notes* absolutely no reason

We’re working with domestic abuse, immigrant narratives, love triangles, finding yourself, revenge porn, cheating, depression, suicide, duty, family responsibility…

To summarize, there’s way too much going on, none of it sits right with me, and very few decisions make sense.

Add in a dire case of flat characters and we’ve got a real nightmare on our hands.

Bottom line: AAAAAH!!!
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,147 reviews97.7k followers
February 25, 2020
I loved this so much. This really is a love letter to belonging and seeing all your different parts, and the parts you came from, and exploring those parts and connecting deeper to your culture. This is also a story very much about what it means to be asian american and how sometimes those two parts can make you feel not enough for either half. This was beautiful, and the story was so good, the romance (and love triangle) was everything, and I feel so honored to have read this. <3

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Content and Trigger Warnings: abuse (side characters), natural disasters, codependency, depression, drinking, talk of a susicde attempt in the past, racism (always in a negative light and challenged), and the leaking of private pictures.

Buddy Read with Joce! ❤
Profile Image for jessica.
2,475 reviews29.6k followers
April 27, 2021
im so torn with this. while this definitely has some positives to it, there are some major negatives which i cant ignore like i usually would.

lets talk about the positives first. this has some great messages - its all about finding yourself, following your passions, and discovering your roots/culture/where you come from. it also talks about mental health, stereotypes, racism, being a first generation american, the pressure of pleasing your parents, feeling like you dont belong, and first love. and while all these things are great and deserve representation, i definitely think its too much for just this one story, as it is all very underdeveloped.

many heavy topics are glanced over or rushed. and with rushing through something as serious as mental health/depression/suicidal thoughts, it gives of the impression of mishandling the topic. dont even get me started on the toxic love triangle, cheating, and unnecessary slut shaming. im not saying this kind of content shouldnt be included - it just should be developed and handled properly. because these issues dont provide a good example of how to find a healthily resolution, which can be harmful, especially for a story primarily targeted towards teens.

im not sure if its because this is a debut book for a new author and she just hasnt figured out how to develop content, but i want to give her the benefit of the doubt and blame it on inexperience, which will hopefully change over time.

overall, not the best story (also not the worst, even though the plot is a near copy of ‘when dimple met rishi’), but i can appreciate what the author was trying to do.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Warda.
1,087 reviews17.3k followers
January 26, 2020
Well, I’m glad this is now over.
In reality, I should’ve DNF’d this book. I knew it wasn’t going to be for me, but I thought the story would’ve developed more substance as it went on. But it didn’t.

It felt so lacklustre overall, even though I appreciated what this book was trying to do.

I related to Ever in a way. The immigrant story, the guilt, your parents, the expectations they place on you, identity, the disconnect etc. All of us who come from an ethnic background have experienced this in one way shape or form.
But these issues felt like they were glanced over, too rushed. The story was trying to do too much of everything and it left me feeling empty reading it, because they weren’t expanded and built upon. Instead we got a meaningless love triangle. It was all just so underdeveloped, ugh.

It’s a no from me.

Thank you to Dark Room Tours and Simon & Schuster UK for providing me with a copy of this book.
Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,068 followers
May 19, 2020
“I would die for my family if I needed to. I would emigrate to a foreign country and give up dancing to unwrap blood-soaked bandages every hour of every day if it meant food and shelter for my family. But because of them, I don’t have to.”

this book hit me hard.
Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,332 followers
Shelved as 'not-sure-if-i-ll-read-it'
February 14, 2020
So, I am seriously torn!

This book does not sound like the type of book I usually enjoy but then it takes place in Taipei! 😍 Taiwan is one of the best places I've ever visited. And I'm a bit considering reading this book just because of Taiwan but then I worry a bit that I won't like it because of the topic... And I don't know what to do!
Profile Image for Kimberly (Deity of Books).
57 reviews186 followers
July 17, 2022
✨ (↠ For a more mobile-friendly reading experience ↠) Review is also posted on my blog

I’ve read it about 5 times already and I think I’ve finally settled on a rating. This is a book that I have a love and hate relationship.

Everett Wong (also known as Ever) is the main character. She loves to dance and has been doing it since she was young. Her parents, like every other Asian American parent, want her to go to Med School. Ever has applied to colleges that would help her get into Med School, but she has also applied to Tisch, a school of arts, without her parents' knowledge or consent. When acceptance letters arrive, Ever has only been accepted to Northwestern and Tisch. When her parents found out about her acceptance into Tisch, they decided to send Ever to a program in Taiwan for 8 weeks to learn more about Mandarin and her culture. That program is Chien Tan, also known as Loveboat.

When she arrives at Taiwan, she needs to find her contact but gets lost in the huge airport crowd, and suddenly starts to fall. Then “the most handsome guy” Ever has ever seen, saves her. This guy is Rick Woo. He is well-known and well-loved in the Asian American community, but sadly he’s taken.

Later, Ever meets Sophie Ha, Rick's cousin. She is outgoing and charming. Ever and Sophie become best friends instantly. She explains to Ever that this is the program. There is no parental supervision and basically no rules. She pushes Ever to do things that are out of her comfort zone and that Ever’s parents would never allow. While they are at Chien Tan, they witness a scene where a guy and girl are caught sleeping together by a counselor. Now Ever knows why this is called Loveboat.

Xavier Yeh is the guy that was caught sleeping with a girl. He is a notorious playboy and has caught Ever’s interest. He is the heir to a technology empire—his family “practically own[s] half the island”.

Content Warning/Things I Didn’t Like:
- Instalove
- Physical + Emotional Cheating
- Physical + Emotional (I think) Abuse
- Spreading of Nudes
- Catty Girls

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book, but I might be a little biased because I am Taiwanese and was super excited to see Taiwan represented in YA. But...I don’t like how Taiwan and Taipei were described. The description isn’t that accurate; Taipei is a very modern city. Lots of details were incorrect like downloading WeChat in Taiwan, weird translations, and writing simplified Mandarin.

WeChat is rarely ever used in Taiwan. The most popular messaging app is Line. This book had some weird translations. For example, the phrase “xiǎo péngyǒu” is used a lot and is translated really weirdly. The translation that the book gives is “little friend” and that is the translation if you were to break up this phrase. Xiǎo = Little. Péngyǒu = friend. This phrase used as a whole means “little children” not “little friend”. I think that maybe the author did this to help English readers understand Mandarin better?

Almost no one writes in Taiwan writes simplified Mandarin, but in this book, Ever is sent to learn about her culture and Taiwan’s culture and somehow ends up learning to write in simplified Mandarin??? It makes no sense.

Simplified (爱) vs Traditional (愛).

Why is this a big deal? I think it’s a big deal because it shows that the author didn’t really do any research about Taiwan before writing this book (a quick google search or maybe even common sense would tell you that simplified Mandarin isn’t used in Taiwan) and I feel like it’s kind of disrespectful.

Next, there’s obviously going to be Romance. It’s a shitshow. In this book, there is a love triangle (or a love rectangle. Maybe a love pentagon? I don’t know–it’s confusing) between Ever, Rick, and Xaiver (and some others). The romance was confusing and messy. I disliked the love triangle and don’t like who she ended up with but it’s fine. Hopefully, the character that Ever didn’t end up with will be able to have his own story and be with someone better.

My feelings about the characters were all over the place as the plot progressed. Some of the characters at the beginning were my favorites, but then they did a 180.

Ever was my favorite character at the beginning of the book because I could relate to her a lot but as the book continued, I did not like her and I was getting really frustrated with the choice she made. The friendship between Sophie and Ever. At first, I really liked this at first, but… Sophie became a bitch. She’s really crazy and catty (both these girls are). I don't think her past justifies her actions at all.

Rick. I hate him. He has a girlfriend, but he likes Ever. Yes, he's stressed out and dealing with pressure. I personally think that Rick is an asshole letting the relationship with Jenna (his girlfriend) drag out so long, but (I’m not 100% sure) I think that Jenna was kind of emotionally abusive towards Rick. The main point is that I don’t like either of them. She threatened to kill herself because Rick was going to leave her.

The ending of this book was very unbelievable. Ever’s story was wrapped up very well, but other character’s endings were not finished yet. So I think it’s safe to say that the sequel will be a different character’s story. I really hope it will be. There’s one character that I really like and I hope that this character gets to be the main character in the sequel.

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Profile Image for may ➹.
462 reviews1,843 followers
May 8, 2020
Pretty girl on the pretty cover, why did you have to disappoint me...

Loveboat, Taipei follows a Chinese-American girl named Ever, who is crumpling under the pressure of her parents’ expectations. She wants to pursue dance, which has been her constant passion throughout life, but her parents’ dream is for her to become a doctor instead. She is sent on a summer program in Taipei, where she ends up making friends and having a lot more freedom than she thought she would—freedom to explore herself and what she wants in life.

Before I read reviews of this book, I was super excited to read this. First of all, Asian dancer—that’s me!! Second of all, pretty girl on pretty cover—I love pretty girls!! But as I saw more and more reviews, I started getting scared that it would not live up to my expectations. And my gut instinct was right: I did not enjoy the book!!!

In the mall back home, heads sometimes turned when I walked by with my family, but now, my Asian-Americanness is invisible, erased like a shaken Etch A Sketch. It’s an unexpected relief.

I think it should be noted that this book does have a lot of important messages, especially for Asian Americans/second generation Asian American immigrants. There were some things that I related a lot to, like how Ever was more interested in the arts than STEM or medicine, like what is usually pushed upon Asian American kids, and how her parents wanted her to do what made her happy but also be able to support herself financially.

And there were also some other important issues tackled, such as Asian stereotypes, racism, and abuse in relationships. I also loved seeing Ever grow and figure out who she was as a person over the course of the book, when she had not been allowed to explore her identity before. But a lot of reviews that I’ve read have mentioned that there were just so many topics that the author tried to cover that in the end, she was not able to explore these topics with the depth required to be meaningful—and I agree.

I would die for my family if I needed to. I would emigrate to a foreign country and give up dancing to unwrap blood-soaked bandages every hour of every day if it meant food and shelter for my family. But because of them, I don’t have to.

To be completely honest, it was not an entirely unpleasant experience to read this book, but I cannot count how many times I just had to put the book down and roll my eyes or scoff or laugh out loud at some of the ridiculousness that was happening. (At one point I closed my eyes because I just had to shut it out….. and then I accidentally fell asleep.) And some of the conflicts that occurred just felt really extreme and outrageous, especially when they were resolved so quickly. I really don’t understand how and Ever was still able to forgive her in a discussion where Sophie didn’t even seem apologetic enough considering the severity of the situation.

The characters were also an issue. Like I said earlier, I really did like seeing Ever grow and develop when it came to figuring herself out, though sometimes I got annoyed with her when she kept complaining about the same thing over and over again. However, it felt like she was the only one who seemed to be three-dimensional (besides Sophie, because she had a nice side and a bitchy side, but that doesn’t count).

The love interests were the same-old same-old Perfect Guy with a perfect life and Bad Boy with a tragic past. I appreciate these common types of characters being written as Asians, but their Asianness will not keep me from criticizing bad character work: You could literally replace them with sacks of flour and there would be no difference!! They were boring and didn’t have any substance; it felt like they really were there to just help further Ever’s own development of fulfilling her wants instead of her parents’, rather than, you know, be characters.

I feel all the parts of myself coming together: glad that a part of me is Chinese, a part of me American, and all of me is simply me.

Other things I didn’t enjoy: The love triangle was very icky and uncomfortable because one of them literally had a partner. The “fake dating” I thought was going to be more present in the book lasted for like 2 short chapters maybe. And I, personally, will also never ever be able to deal with dramatic love declarations whenever they happen after a short amount of time spent together. You’ve known her for like a month and a half, my dude, you will not “die if you can’t talk to her”. And the cherry on top was that the ending somehow managed to combine everything I hated from before (ie. unrealisticness).

Overall, I think it’s clear that I didn’t enjoy this book. I honestly wouldn’t recommend it, though I do think some of the issues I had were more personal things. I appreciate its themes and messages concerning Asian American identity, but… I didn’t love much else. :o)

:: rep :: all-Asian cast (I believe they are all Chinese/Taiwanese)

:: content warnings :: leaking of nude photos, mentions of suicide/depression, physical and emotional abuse, racism (challenged), slut-shaming
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
611 reviews237 followers
July 25, 2020
DNF @ 80%

I wanted to love this book more than anything, which is why the outcome has left me slightly bitter. Forgettable/cookie cutter characters paired with over dramatic writing and glossed-over serious issues became unbearable for me.

Loveboat, Taipei follows Ever Wong, a girl that’s becoming rapidly fed up with her strict Asian parents. When they reject Ever’s passion for dance and instead ship her off to Taipei for a mandarin program, she expects the worst. Except Loveboat isn’t the inescapable program Ever expected. There’s no adult supervision, making it the perfect place for partying, hookups and everything in between.

The writing

There were several lines that grabbed my attention for all the wrong reasons. Some had me scratching my head out of confusion and others were blatantly overdramatic and cringey:

“My body shakes as if I haven’t eaten in days.”
“His voice is smooth and low, dark chocolate with hints of cherry.”
“-I’m jostling along with another herd of travelers into an arrival hall, flowing with a river of more Asian people than I’ve ever seen. Panic!”
“Megan shrieks loud enough to be heard in Manhattan.”


The characters
It was difficult to take a liking to any of the characters in this story because most of them were created based off of a compilation of overused tropes. There wasn’t anything original I could pull from the protagonist, much less the side characters.

I didn’t mind Ever in the first third of the book. After that point, though, she spirals into a mainly unlikable person considering she never takes accountability for her actions. The author attempts to paint Ever as constantly influenced by others to evoke something akin to sympathy in the reader. Not one character in this novel has told Ever what to do (besides her parents) and yet Ever makes consistent destructive choices anyways. (eg. cheating)

The Plot

Loveboat, Taipei almost sent me into a reading slump several times. I considered putting it down early on, which looking back on things, would have been a smart decision. Things don’t pick up until around 35%, and when they do it’s all relentless relationship drama that I couldn’t care less about considering my lack of emotion towards the characters.

I hated seeing several important topics glossed over with no further discussion.
They include the following:

- cheating
- using someone you are aware has feelings for you for sex
- leaked nudes used as revenge
- severe depression
- attempted suicide

Everything that did take place felt very rushed. It could be because this is a debut novel and the author is less experienced, but it made for a really hard time reading.

Final Thoughts

After reading reviews from several East Asians, it became apparent that small details about the dialogue and customs were also incorrect. Several reviewers have provided examples of inconsistencies and clunky mandarin sentences that they’ve expressed they feel do not properly represent their culture.

While I can’t personally speak on this subject, I recommend you check out tsz yan yannes on youtube, as she lives in China and has spoken firsthand on some of the technical errors in Loveboat, Taipei as well as several other misrepresentations.

It was a real shame that I didn’t enjoy this book. I was looking forward to the story as it sounded like something that would cater to my interests. The only thing I did like was the atmosphere of Taipei portrayed by the author.
Profile Image for human.
628 reviews931 followers
September 29, 2020
(i related to the whole being forced to be a doctor thing, but hated the rest of it, so 1 sympathy star)

(this book might have the greatest amount of shelf tags in any book i've ever read. if you're confused... i am too.)


This gif pretty much sums up my feelings toward this book. Surprisingly accurate yet succinct unlike this review.

Anyway. Disclaimer and stuff. If you liked this book, you probably shouldn't read this. If you don't want any spoilers for the book, don't read this either, because SPOILERS GALORE!

Now onto the real stuff, heheh.



How do I loathe thee, book. Let me count the ways:

This book tries to do much. Honestly. First, there's a love triangle. Then, there's a coming-of-age arc. We look at stereotypes and how toxic they are for a bit. Of course, it's not a circus book without fake dating somewhere in there. Not to mention healthy amounts of guilt and parental pressure. There's girl hate, cheating, angsty bad boys, using people, and revenge nudes. Random bits of everything is thrown into this mess, and it's chaotic as hell. And not good chaos.


Lets get into it.

- The love triangle square web: Basically, we have Ever, who is best friends with Sophie (at least for now), who has a crush on Xavier (who is rich), who is rooming with Rick, (who is Sophie's cousin, who has a girlfriend, aka "Boy Wonder/impossible parental standard" Rick), who has a crush on Ever and vice-versa despite said girlfriend. If you're confused because none of that makes any sense, I'll tell you that it's not supposed to. (I think). Rick's family hates his girlfriend, Jenna, because of how dependent she is on Rick, which gives Ever the genius idea for

- the fake dating ploy. Naturally. There's a lot of flirting and they sort of make moves but not really. At this point, lots of shit had happened, and was still happening, but, mind you, we're only halfway through the book. Ever meets Rick and Sophie's Aunt Claire, who absolutely loves her and dotes on her the way her parents never did, but most importantly, approves of her wanting to do her own thing and follow her passion. This, of course, sets off

- the coming-of-age arc. This may be the only thing I actually liked about this book. Ever starts off the story as her parents' daughter, living her life the way they want her to, and giving up everything she could ever dream of for them. At least, she starts that way. Very quickly, she sheds the skin of a perfect daughter and becomes a total rebel, living for breaking her parents' rules. The beginning is quite drastic, but after the halfway mark, she starts to become who she wants to be, and even though it might not be exactly what her parents want, it's not going exactly against them either. This brings up

- her parental pressure. I'm sure many people have experienced the crushing weight of their parents' expectations, and the even worse feeling of guilt when you let them down. I am certainly no exception. My parents are very adamant that I become a doctor, and while they haven't 'sacrificed', exactly, for this, the way Ever's parents have, they want to see me successful at the cost of my happiness, and I want to make them proud. But the internal struggle is difficult. It is so hard to 'follow your dreams' when your parents already have one for you, and are either constantly criticizing and hating your hobbies every time you share them, or are building you up to a standard you simply can't hold. And surprisingly, I liked the way Wen wrote about Ever's conflicting emotions. And I get that some people may think that this seems like an overused trope or something, but it's really not. Students suffer mentally and harm themselves physically from the insane standards that their parents and just society, in general, put them up to.

- The stereotypes, of course, don't help at all. This was only touched on by a few characters in the book (side effect of putting 900 plot-points in a book), which was disappointing. There was so much potential, but the whole "combatting Asian stereotypes" plotline was dissolved into a humor-y thing, not taken very seriously but to provide a few laughs. Then, there's

- Xavier aka angsty-boy-with-daddy-issues, aka rich-player-who-gets-what-he-wants. Except not really. At the beginning, Xavier was seen like the bad boy good girls shouldn't hang out with even though they're inexplicably drawn to them, and that Sophie (his girlfriend-but-not-really) was Going To Get Hurt. Nevermind the fact that Xavier was in love with Ever the whole time (drawing pictures of her and giving them to her, etc). But he's a player, so apparently that makes it okay for Ever to lead him on and not even properly break things off when he was so clearly in love with her? No one deserves to have their heart torn out like that. Ever just used him to get over Rick, after

- Sophie distributes Ever's nudes to get back at her for - get this - kissing Xavier. I know. It sounds insane because it is. And while I know that you should never get with your friend's exes, what Sophie did was inexcusable and could have ruined Ever's life, completely. Or at least, I'm the only person who thinks this way, because Ever was totally okay with letting go of the grudge (which, to be fair, was also partially her fault). No one's blameless. But there was still a disgusting amount of girl-on-girl hate through-out the book that really rubbed me the wrong way while I was reading it.

All of this isn't to forget the drama

Except for the part where they do.

The characters were so incredibly annoying (I wanted to bitch-slap them more than once), and were literally tropes poured into the shape of teenagers. I guess since the characters were so flat and boring af, the author needed to put something substantial in, so added excessive drama instead? Like my wonderful friend here (who, incidentally, is the reason I read this), said in her review, the sheer amount of drama in this book rivaled that in my mother's soap operas,


oh don't forget:


which, well, you can see for yourself. And since there was so much drama, the language had to be equally showy and pretentious. Naturally.

I would talk about the plot, as I usually do, but there was none.



The romance was... disgusting. Someone once wrote in the review of some other book that what makes love triangles good (when done right) is that you are stuck in the helplessness of falling in love with them both, and you can't pick. Unfortunately, I've never come across anything like that, and this book was by no means an exception. I hated all the characters except for Pearl (Ever's little sister), but especially Rick (lay off Xavier for a while, will you Ever? You just broke his freaking heart). All of Ever and Rick's relationship gave off a feeling of "what we're doing is okay because Jenna is depressed and needs professional help, not Rick". Yeah buddy? If you loved Ever so much, you should have helped Jenna get help and made it clear to her that you two were over. The romance was so disgusting and gave me serious Anna and the French Kiss vibes (which, if you read my rant, I also hated). Just, GAAAH.



Last but not least, there's the whole matter of the car crash. It was ridiculously dramatic and lasted all of about 5 pages. Of course, it happened right before Ever's big performance, but apparently, she was still able to put on a show with a recently dislocated shoulder and a twisted ankle - that too, perfectly???



Yeah right.

All in all, I hated this book for very justifiable reasons.

Also, there's no way I'm going to read the next book. ("There's a NEXT book?!!" You all scream out in equally justifiable horror.)

Profile Image for Mrinmayi.
155 reviews569 followers
Shelved as 'has-cheating-so-won-t-read'
September 24, 2020
At first, I was REALLY excited to pick this book
AWESOME cover & the story sounded interesting
BUT apparently, the story has cheating in it *facepalms*
AND NO TRIGGER WARNINGS !!!
When will authors realize that cheating is a TRIGGER & NOT A SPOILER!! *frustrated Mrin shouting*


If some of my friends on GR hadn't read this book & mentioned the cheating...I would have assumed this was a safe read *double facepalms*
And apparently, the cheating is excused because the girlfriend of the LUUURVE interest is having mental health issues

Read this book at your own risk😂
Also, I remember someone telling me to "calm down" and be "open-minded" about cheating
Ohhh, wait & my favorite!!! "Ohhh poor you...Did some boy cheat on you??"
NO Willy Wonka No one cheated on me BUT am I supposed to wait for the day when a guy cheats on me to understand that cheating is wrong??

It's like waiting for your home to be robbed to realize, "Oh NOOOOO!! Getting robbed hurts like a bitch"😂
BTW...I was about to write Karen BUT then realized...there might be some woman out there named Karen
And even though we use this name to make our point...it felt wrong..when NO Karen said that to me😅
Profile Image for nivedha.
138 reviews69 followers
September 22, 2020
well. that was a disaster.
it has more tropes and drama than one of my mom's desi soap operas (that's saying something).
why do i hate this book?


SPOILERS AHEAD

i want ever to be a real person just so i can slap her out of this solar system because BOY, this girl is awful. she basically uses and discards xavier but somehow he should be okay with that because he's a "player" and she was with rick despite the fact that he had a depressed girlfriend who had suicidal tendencies? none of the characters were even vaguely likable. xavier kept a nude photo of ever, despite the fact that those were leaked without her consent (off topic, but isn't "leaked nudes" the worst revenge trope? like, if you're gonna make the book awful and predictable you might as well use fun, enjoyable tropes). rick is a dick (haha i crack myself up) who cheated on his girlfriend but it doesn't matter because he and ever are in ~luuuuuuurve~ totally boyfriend material relationship goals amirite. sophie leaked her friend's nudes because she kissed her boyfriend who isn't even her boyfriend because she lied about their relationship or whatever? and ever. ever, ever, ever. i despise her. she's a cheater and manipulative and abusive. ugh. don't get me started on the ending, either. when i read the car crash scene, i could feel the slo-mo and dramatic music radiating from the page. and miss wonder could do her performance with a dislocated shoulder and an injured ankle? and her injured father miraculously got out of his wheelchair to give her a standing ovation? don't make me laugh. i don't even care enough about the epilogue to read it.

RANT OVER.

i hate this book so much guys oh my god. i recommend it to anyone who wants to feel their brain melt and leak out of their ears. if you value your sanity, don't read this.
"but how'd you read it without losing your sanity?" can't lose what i never had lol
anyways i've earned an hour of among us after this abomination. nivedha out.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,776 reviews4,471 followers
January 1, 2022
Update!Here's my full review: https://bookishrealmreviews.blogspot....

I had to take some time to think about this book because it was so intriguing. There were a few sections that I thought were too long considering the nature of the story but overall I thought it was good! I loved that this was written in a voice that we don’t hear that often in YA. I don’t know much about Asian culture and traditions but this definitely taught me a lot. As a person of color I’m always interested in how other races of color handle racism and culturally “clashes.” I think this was an amazing perspective. While I didn’t agree with the behavior of a lot of the characters, I think that together they were such an amazing unit.i learned so much about the Asian American experience and I hope to learn more. It was such a well written novel and a quick read. If you’re wondering why it didn’t get 5 stars it’s because I couldn’t get past something that a main character did. I know people make mistakes but I feel like this individual got off too easy. I’ll be doing a full review soon!
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
879 reviews760 followers
November 30, 2021
4.5 stars!

This was a fantastic ride and a serious, heartfelt novel hiding behind the persona of a party narrative. New favorite!

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★ 1/2
Overall enjoyment ★★★★★

Loveboat, Taipei was honestly a surprise for me. I'd heard mixed reviews and wasn't sure if it was for me, but I decided to go with my gut. I'm so glad I did. This was such shock—like a Taipei-based Gossip Girl, with better themes and refreshingly original cast. Loved it.

Ever Wong is 18 years old, and she's ready to spend the last summer before college dancing her heart out in secret under the nose of her disapproving parents. But then her parents give her a nasty surprise: there will be no Ohio summer, and definitely no dancing. Ever's going to China to learn Mandarin, surrounded by the Chinese-American elite students that her parents always wished Ever would be. No pressure.

Ever imagines that this summer will be filled with studying, unfair academic expectations, and more internal shaming than she ever received at home.

Ever's in for the shock of her life.

Chien Tan, the summer school, is known as "Loveboat" by the students who attend. It's more of a party-all-night, hook-up scene than a school. Thrust into a different version of Asian-American culture than she's ever experienced, Ever wonders if for the first time in her life, she can truly be herself.

Oh, and naturally there are some boys. (Wink, wink.)

My thoughts:
Maybe I read this at the perfect time, but Loveboat, Taipei knocked me out of the water. I read it in one day. I couldn't stop. Ever's sense of self, her struggle for identity in her immigrant family vs her American ideology was beautiful—I felt for her and cheered her on at ever step.

This was so much FUN. I loved the positive representation of sex, the friend dynamics (with their ups and DOWNs, wow), the love triangle that was an actual triangle with equal effort placed in both love interests, growing pains, finding yourself, the sense of familial duty vs individualism in the Asian American experience, and the unique setting of the summer school program itself.

I loved the window into Taipei's culture and its elite summer program. In the author's note, the author discusses the fact that this program does exist (although this novel's version of it is exaggerated for obvious reasons). I can't speak to how Asian Americans would feel regarding this novel's representation, but appreciated the author's context.

Loveboat, Taipei also addressed a lot more serious themes than I was expecting. This was actually a sore spot for many of the negative reviews that I've seen, so I really want to share my thoughts: I thought those aspects were handled well given how they were introduced to the plot. Please see the spoiler below for more thoughts on that point. Another dark theme discussed in this novel related to a betrayal between two main characters—Wow, what a gut punch. BUT, again, I liked the author's handling of the subject. Instead of making it a trope'd, two-dimensional girl vs. girl hate issue, there was character growth. It's not a bad thing to have a trope, as long as it's handled well and brings something new to the game. For me, Loveboat, Taipei did that.

A spoiler, relevant to the topic above:

I am READY for the next book. Can't wait!

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Profile Image for sarah.
377 reviews397 followers
April 2, 2020
I had heard mixed reviews for this book, and went into it with lowered expectations. So I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up really enjoying it!

Loveboat Taipei follows Ever Wong, a Chinese-American teen who is sent to Taipei for the summer by her parents. Little do they know, the program Ever is signed up for is known secretly as 'loveboat', and Ever vows to break the rules her restrictive parents had placed upon her.

I loved the setting of this book! It felt like a boarding school mixed with a summer camp- two of my favourite settings. Yet despite the sheer amount of books I have read with similar premises, it still managed to feel refreshing and new.

Ever is a character I am vastly different from, but I also felt connected to. She felt authentic and fleshed out, and I could understand her motivations. Her voice was clear and really helped her personality shine through.

The writing of contemporaries I read are usually 'basic' and just tell it like it is. That is by no means a criticism, because it allows the story to be fast paced and just get to the meat of the story. That is why Loveboat Taipei really surprised me with its prose. While not necessarily the most flowery or purple, it was more descriptive and introspective than other books of its genre. Ever's love of dancing shone through in just the way she perceived everyday moments, and it was lovely to see how she saw the world around her. However, this more lyrical writing style did make the book longer than an average contemporary, and a little bit slower paced which could be a drawback.

I loved the issues this book tackled. From mental health, to subverting stereotypes to parental pressure- Loveboat, Taipei was full of important commentary. I really enjoyed each of the characters' different struggles that come from their asian heritage, and how people try to fit them into set boxes. A major theme of this story was breaking out of those pre-assigned boxes and finding out who they really are.

“We're breaking another taboo, talking about racism, but I've just broken a bigger one confronting that guy before the entire restaurant, instead of sticking to that Asian nonconfrontational thing. But these are rules meant to be broken. Something happens to a kid when they see their parent treated like that. Something happens to the parent.”

Unfortunately, some of the more important issues were overshadowed by at times unnecessary drama and angst. Don't get me wrong- I love me some dramatics and romance, but I was loving the rest of the story so much that it was a little disappointing to focus on the more trivial aspects. The main thing that lowered my enjoyment was Sophie. I am really conflicted on her, because at the beginning I liked her character! However, after she did... something (if you've read the book you know), I could not forgive her. I really hated that addition to the story and I think it could have easily been removed from the story.

I listened to the audiobook compulsively, and really liked the narrators voice for Ever (less so for the boys) and would recommend that if you want to read the book.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable book that I would recommend for anyone looking for a more sophisticated and diverse contemporary, with drama and a heavy focus on the romance.
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,906 followers
March 14, 2021
The teen crazy rich asians.
but give all the characters highly questionable morals.


“When my mind wanders, it is always to you.”


My mind wandered a lot in this book too. I have just not been enjoying the contemporary books I have been picking up recently which is a bummer.

after all the screaming and complaints in my updates we shouldn't even be surprised with my rating. I am really sorry to everyone who loved this.

STOP WITH THE ASIAN STEREOTYPE. I was really trying to forget about the contribution this makes to that automatic mindset of asians created by media, even for a bit, and just enjoy the “fun teen experience” and all the crazy things that they were doing but... no.... I am just tired of it.

— overall thoughts: 1.50 —

What I didn’t like:
1. contributes to the “strict asian parent” stereotype
2. medical careers = 😄 (not actively discussed except for the beginning and the end)
3. art careers = 😠 (not actively discussed except for the beginning and the end)
4. the main love interest already has a girlfriend before meeting Ever… which i HATE reading about, we don’t condone that kind of behaviour in this household
5. they all go behind each others backs CONSTANTLY
6. dyslexia rep and physical abuse was mentioned ONCE and never heard of again + was never tackled and closed properly (that i don't even want to mark this book w/ disability rep)
7. Ever “realizes” her own mistakes… but still continued to do all these things that she just concluded were not ethical
9. unbalanced love triangle/quadrangle, it was obvious who was going to end up with who
10. i was not satisfied with the ending… even though it’s supposedly a “happy” ending
11. the harry potter shoutout

What I did like:
1. the acknowledgement of racism and how it explored the life of asian immigrants
2. Ever finally grew a backbone at the last 15%
3. father and daughter relationship… during the last 10%
4. how the narrator actually speaks chinese/mandarin so you get to hear these good tidbits in their own tongue that i would not get reading the physical book
5. the loveboat idea... because it seems interesting at first glance
5. yea that’s the only stuff i could think of i’m sorry

I think that the book wanted to do so many things and be so many things that it felt into the stereotypical/trope-y hole that I could not relate to or empathize with.

— plot —
Before the rant below I need to say that my biggest problem about the rep is that it did not actively make it a point to say that “this may be what you think of asians but it’s actually not” like I expected it would. SHE DIDN'T EVEN RECONCILE WITH HER MOM BY THE END. Instead, it focused more on this love quadrangle of teenagers who actively betraying each other with no sense of loyalty. Oh but don’t worry they felt bad about it… after all the damage has been done….

While asian parents can be seen as “strict” when compared to white parents, Ever’s parents are NOT an accurate representation of 98% of asian parents I know, including my own.

I just want to take the chance to give my two cents as an asian person:
- I am currently in University in the field of medicine and while my parents encouraged me (as they want to provide me with the best opportunity), they made it very clear to me that they wanted it be fully my own choice and interest. They never influenced me or anything at all and I never saw myself in those american depictions of the typical asian nerd (note that these shows never usually even specified whether chinese, filipino, japanese, or whatnot it was just always: Asian.)
- I have been active in the field of performing arts for most of my life (9+ years now) had the full support of my parents (which I am grateful to have) but at the same time, not everyone is given this chance
- They did not let me attend every party in high school (thank goodness they didn’t) but 4 out of 5 times I asked for permission I was given a go signal
- I can say that the overall asian culture is more reserved that non-asian cultures but... I’m not mad?? There’s definitely room for the older generations to be more openminded but you can’t tell me that it isn’t the same situation in america/europe/etc.

Asian parents may express care and love differently than white parents but I hate that the standard of what a “regular good parent” is supposed to be are white parents. I’m not saying that white parents are bad or anything but … don’t generalize! and get this stereotype out of your head.

Sorry for the rant, I got triggered XD We are MOVING ON!

“And news flash- not speaking your language- in their own country- doesn't make anyone less intelligent than you”


— characters —

((I initially made a list of pros and cons for Ever at around the half way point but then she made such stupid decisions at the second half of the story that I decided to delete my list))

— writing style and themes —
very trope-y.

There are some positive notes and messages, don’t get me wrong. But 80-90% of this book was NOT about what it means to be the child of an immigrant. If the middle contents of the book actually had more substance I probably would not have “hated” this as much as I did.

I liked the overall theme of going for your dreams but the way it was delivered, was just not it for me.

I was not comfortable with what the book represented overall when I looked at it from the outside. I tried to enjoy the characters and see them for what the are, I really did.

Maybe I am just not in the mood for contemporaries or I am just extra picky, who knows?

I have nothing more to say. Okay thanks for reading this weird/rant review. If you do decide to read this book I hope you enjoy it at least a little more than I did.

plot: ★★☆☆☆
writing style: ★★☆☆☆
world building: ★★☆☆☆
characters: ★☆☆☆☆
themes: ★☆☆☆☆
pacing: ★☆☆☆☆
page turner: ★★☆☆☆

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Profile Image for ♛ may.
801 reviews3,765 followers
March 1, 2020
this was wildly more dramatic than i was expecting. there were a lot of aspects that i enjoyed but there were also some scenes that just,,,,,,,,,,were SO WRONG



i feel like i've read this story many times and sadly this one didn't stand out. if you want a book about an asian girl trying to find her future outside her parents dreams i would highly suggest American Panda or I Love You So Mochi

i found a stronger connection to those books and found them less dramatic (plus there were less love triangles 🤭)
April 8, 2021
”Maybe part of fighting the unhappiness in this world is to seize happiness when we can”.

Este libro me pareció súper divertido y no me lo esperaba. Fue uno de estos libros que vi alguna vez muy baratos en BookOutlet y dije ”why not?”, pero definitivamente fue una gran compra. Aquí nos encontramos con la historia de Ever Wong, una adolescente asiática que vive en Ohio y cuyos padres son tremendamente estrictos y tiene todo su futuro planeado para ella. El problema es que es un futuro de medicina y no de baile como ella quiere. Decididos a que Ever se reconecte con sus raíces y aprenda mandarín, sus padres la envían durante todo el verano a una afamada academia en Taipei. Sin embargo, muy pronto Ever se dará cuenta de que la academia, cuyo apodo es Loveboat no es tan estricta como se pensaría y, además, va a hacer que conozca a un montón de personas que abrirán sus horizontes y posibilidades.

Quizá una de las cosas más divertidas del libro es ver cómo Ever va saliendo de su caparazón y dejando de lado todas las ataduras que su crianza le ha inspirado. Toda su vida le han dicho cómo debe vestirse, cómo debe actuar, con quién debe salir y a qué carrera debe aspirar. Pero Loveboat le permite descubrirse a ella misma sin estar bajo la lupa de sus padres. Que sí, que todo lo que hacen por ella lo hacen pensando en su futuro y en que tenga las mejores oportunidades, pero eso no evita que la estén ahogando en parámetros de siglos pasados.

Algo que no me esperé de Loveboat, Taipei fue la cantidad de romance y de tensión que existe en la historia. La verdad me sorprendió muchísimo y me encantó ver que no sólo era Ever, sino todos los chicos de la academia, quienes se sentían coartados por su crianza y habían decidido romper todos los paradigmas y las reglas con las que habían crecido. Verlos salir a clubes, bailar, vestirse como quisieran, besar a quien les gustara y salir con otros chicos y chicas me pareció genial y, a través del tono del libro, súper liberador.

Ahora, a pesar de todo este romance enloquecido, creo que el libro representa bastante bien lo que se debe sentir al crecer como hijo de inmigrantes y todas las expectativas que la gente tiene sobre ti. Además, creo que esta es una historia espectacular que resalta lo importante de todo el movimiento own voices. Cuando un autor escribe sobre lo que sabe y sobre lo que ha vivido, los lectores nos conectamos muchísimo con problemas y perspectivas a las que nunca podríamos haber accedido de otra manera. Loveboat, Taipei no es sólo un libro entretenido, sino que también nos abre la puerta a entender lo duro que es el racismo, el lidiar con la salud mental siendo asiático y el aprender a que no se debe agachar la cabeza ante las injusticias, sino que se debe luchar contra ellas.

Cuando empecé a leer este libro no sabía que iba a ser una bilogía, ¡pero menos mal lo será! Quiero leer qué va a suceder con las vidas de Ever, Rick Woo y Xavier Yeh. Los amé muchísimo a los tres.
Profile Image for Kayla Brunson.
1,287 reviews237 followers
December 31, 2019
I really wanted this to be as beautiful as that cover, but I was sadly disappointed. I seriously felt like I was maybe too old for this and most of the scenarios that take place in this book.

I was all for our main character Ever for about 40% of the book. From there I went from being hesitant about what her character would do to straight up disliking her. That’s right, I don’t like our main character. She does a few things that rub me the wrong way and I have no shame saying that I wanted to slap her. Some of her actions were completely selfish and she treated some characters so terribly.

The only character I liked and cared for was Xavier. Everyone else was either cookie cutter, forgettable, or terrible characters. Which leads me to my next issue. So many things that happen in this book are glossed over. We have situations such as nude photos, cheating, depression and even talks of suicide. And when I say glossed over, I mean that everything worked out so easy or was never brought up again. I’m sorry what? You can’t just bring that up and not say anything else about it.

I do feel like the author did a good job of talking about racism and parents’ expectations. I’m not Asian but I do have Asian friends who tell me how stressed they feel about letting their families down. So many of these kids were feeling that stress and reacting in different ways.

All in all, I feel like maybe this book wasn’t for me. The characters were terrible and immature and I didn’t like how a lot of issues were glossed over. I see that there will be a second book but I’m really confused about what else there is to write about.

I received an ARC via Edelweiss for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Alexa.
2,094 reviews10.9k followers
January 10, 2020
Loveboat, Taipei is like Crazy Rich Asians meets American Panda, but is also very much a contemporary YA that stands all on its own. Ever Wong’s summer plans are completely disrupted when her parents send her off to Taipei to attend Chien Tan, an educational program meant to help Ever with her Mandarin skills and appreciation of her culture. But what Ever discovers is that the program is affectionately known as Loveboat, a summer-long party where adults turn a blind eye and teens have the freedom to pursue nights out and hook-ups as much as they want. Ever is about to have an unforgettable summer that might just change the rest of her life... It’s worth noting that this novel has a couple of elements I’m partial to - a life-changing summer, a foreign ‘educational program’ setting and cultural details I’m personally unfamiliar with (Taiwanese and Chinese). I was predisposed to enjoy this one, and I’m happy to report that I loved it! It was fun to read about all the shenanigans (good and bad) that occur, and the experiences and relationships Ever makes in Taiwan. But what really made this novel a cut above the rest had a lot to do with Ever herself. Ever is upset with her parents, who never seem to understand or really see her, who are constantly boxing her into an ideal future that they’ve sacrificed everything for. This summer away is a chance for her to really be on her own, to rebel against the constraints placed against her and to decide who and what she really stands for. While I’ve never specifically had Ever’s experiences, the heart of them really resonated on a personal level (so much so that it made me emotional). I really loved Loveboat, Taipei, and I can’t wait for other readers to get their hands on this story and fall in love with it too!

** I read with one with Rachel for Friends with ARCs.

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Profile Image for l..
490 reviews1,917 followers
Shelved as '2020-pub'
January 11, 2022
If this book doesn’t end up being my favorite read of 2020, I shall perish.

But in all honesty, this is the rep I’ve been waiting for my entire life?? Someone pinch me.
Profile Image for Jenny.
7 reviews11 followers
January 9, 2020
I went into the book expecting at least a four star read, because a POC romance set against the backdrop of Taiwan, a place of rich history and so much delicious food? Heck yeah! You bet I was excited!

In fact, I was so excited that I read this book the day it was released and I even stayed up until 2AM to finish the book.

Argh.

This my friends, is why we should never have high expectations because you'll only be gravely disappointed.

CAUGHT IN A BAD ROMANCE

This book is like the Chinese version of Anna and The French Kiss and so the odds are that if you enjoyed Anna’s adventures you will probably also enjoy Ever’s journey of self-discovery.

(if you have a positive rating for both of these books please stop reading my review ILY <3)

Bleugh. I don’t like Anna and The French Kiss and I don’t like this book.

Both of the main characters are bland, vapid and unbelievably stupid. They are both involved in relationships with losers who fall in love with the main characters in spite of how they themselves already have girlfriends.

At first Rick sister-zones Ever, so there wasn’t a great deal of romance in the early stages of the book (which NGL was probably my favourite parts of the book). Halfway through the book however, we get an almost kiss between Rick and Ever (he still has a girlfriend!!!!!!!) and then Rick gets into a fight with Xavier because he’s jealous and peed off Ever kissed Xavier when it’s literally none of his beeswax (he still has a girlfriend!!!!!!)

His love confession was also just sleazy:

“I almost kissed you… I told myself it was because you were so pretty and I was just a typical asshole.”

Hell yeah you are!

I also hate Rick's attempt to justify himself, it literally endorses cheating:

“But at my aunt’s, I finally admitted there was more to it than that. I called Jenna and told her we needed to break up.”

Wow guys!!! Chivalry isn't dead yooooo!!!! Even though I harboured feelings for you while still being in a relationship at least I broke up with my GF so we can get together without any shame!! That's some altruistic behaviour right there!!!!!

In truth however, my distaste for the main couple of the story started from the get-go.

Here is the first meeting of the NOTP on the trip:

WARNING FOR NAUSEA AND DISGUST INDUCING CRINGE LINES!!!!!!!

“Whoa there,” he says, and I gape up at an angle at the most handsome guy I’ve ever seen.

I must admit, I do enjoy reading trashy romances and I have no shame in it. But heck, because this isn’t Wattpad even I have some standards!

I can handle the occasional “he smirks” but good gracious, the romance in this book was ultimately just god-tier awful.

Rick writes a reply to a letter Ever wrote him when she was younger and maybe it's just because I'm getting older, but the whole thing was so cringe-worthy I got secondhand embarrassment.

"1 + 1 was always 2. With her, 1+1 is exponential.”

WTF does that even mean????????

And then Ever does this after reading the reply:

“I fold his letter down and do a Google search: How do you know when you’re falling in love?”

Ew.

I find that the author can generally write decently, but when lines like this exist I can't help but roll my eyes.

Honourable Mentions:

“His body is imprinted all over mine”

“Who knew Boy Wonder was so good with his tongue?”

Please excuse me as I throw up in my mouth.

WHERE IS THE CULTURE

I understand that the author has attended the IRL Loveboat program before, so I’m assuming that most of the book would be based upon her own experiences (with of course, some creative license).

From the blurb, obviously none of the characters are going to pay much attention to culture and history since their main priorities are partying/clubbing/drinking and whatever. However, seeing as this is a POC story set in Taiwan, there are nonetheless some expectations that we will be immersed in Chinese culture. Indeed, to a limited extent we are exposed to its certain aspects, like when Ever learns some basic Chinese and calligraphy. However, considering how most of the time Ever is skipping class and engaging in debauchery, we don’t really get an authentic cultural immersion experience, which I found to be such a shame considering the large amount of potential just the setting of this book had... like hello where is my Taiwanese street food? The snake blood sake bit the author wrote about was interesting but no way was it enough. Specifically, the beginning of this book lacked cultural nuance, where I wouldn't have known that this was set in Taiwan if you hadn't have told me. Later on, I guess Ever does visit some famous places like the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial and National Palace Museum (at the book's almost 68% mark) and I FINALLY got bits of the Taiwanese street food experience I wanted in “griddled mochi cakes to shaved snow to pig ears on sticks” (at the book's almost 90% mark) - but honestly, at this point I was already too disappointed that it felt more like a throwaway.

I HATE EVER

If Ever was a real life character I would slap her with zero hesitation.

And no it’s not because she didn’t have some proper bubble tea until she was 18 years old.

Our main character Ever is the personification of bad decisions and bad taste. She can be incredibly selfish and self-centred. You just look at how she treats Xavier to understand why. Ever, who has previously said she’d be saving herself for love, has a one night stand with Xavier on her “last night” in Taipei and the moment she wakes up she regrets everything.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but then she decides to ghost him and this is all the BS she thinks about while ignoring his attempts to talk to her:

“But he’s the one who isn’t supposed to get hurt. The Player who deserves anything. Why must he be so vulnerable?”

Later on, Ever realises that she’s being rude.

“I owe Xavier an explanation. An apology and a talk.”

And then I kid you not, exactly two pages later she does this:

“I avoid Xavier in Mandarin by switching seats to the front…"

It’s only another 100 pages later that Ever gives the worst “breakup” excuse of all time to Xavier when she finally gets with lame-o Rick:

“we can’t help who we love”

WTF???????????????

The last time I heard a f*ckboi breakup excuse this bad was when Matt from the Bachelor Australia kept on stuttering about how there was nothing to explain “other than… just my heart” when the runner-up of the season asked him to explain why he dumped her.

I would say that Xavier deserves better, seeing as he’s the only character I liked most of the time (hahaha yeah IKR the guy who got a freaking boner from dancing) For crying out loud, I was even rooting for Xavier and Ever to get together (because Rick is boring y'all) but seeing as how Ever is one of my least favourite main characters of all time, I'm happy with how things turned out. Rick and Ever are perfect together!!! chef's kiss

However, unfortunately my love for Xavier did turn into disgust because this little punk apparently had the last nude photo of Ever and only gave it back when he got rejected.

Yeah.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

The author tries to deal with a bunch of heavy issues in the book, such as suicide, depression, leaked nudes and abuse. I definitely think they could have been dealt with better, especially in regards to the issue of leaked nudes.

In this case, Ever wants to challenge her parents and assert her independence since they keep dictating her life - which sure, I can kind of understand - so she decides to pose naked for the camera as a means of breaking away from the conservative and rigid “Wong rules”.

And then her “friend” Sophie delivers Ever’s nudes to the dance studio, distributes them around the students and at the end of the day she still gets let off with a slap on the wrist.

description

In our modern society there’s generally a lot of victim-blaming when it comes to the issue of leaked nudes. The notion of “Don’t take nudes if you don’t want them to be seen by others!” parallels the archaism of “If you wear revealing clothing you’re asking for it!” These ideas foster a social environment where sexual violence is pervasive and normalised, so I was deeply unimpressed by how this was dealt with in the book. It almost seemed trivialised, where it didn’t matter that Ever had her privacy invaded and violated because hell yeah, while Ever is punished (becoming grounded and getting demerits etc) the worst thing the perpetrator faced was “many of the girls refusing to associate with Sophie”.

That being said, it was highly unrealistic how forgiving Ever was as she still tried to be friends with Sophie when she's like this:

Sophie makes lewd kissing noises. “Please don’t play innocent little victim.”

I found it absurd and ridiculous that Ever was willing to "sort things out" just because later on Sophie gave her a tip to “cross the river and grab cabs instead” due to construction work when Ever was heading towards the National Theatre.

This was something I literally could not understand which greatly diminished the remaining joy I had from reading this book.

OK-ISH PARTS

I appreciated how the author addressed the toxic nature of overbearing Asian parents. This tiger parenting style is common in Asian countries and there are many problems associated with their constant demands for excellence - particularly in families who value tradition. In the book we are exposed to many intrusive and domineering parents, such as Ever's, Xavier's and even Sophie's. Thus, I was really glad that in the end characters like Ever were able to pursue their own dreams instead of their parents', because there are definitely a lot of people who are unable to do so IRL. Furthermore, I liked how the author also drew attention to how Asian parents can be incredibly self-sacrificing. As a daughter of immigrant Chinese parents, this was something I could really relate to, and it was nice that this characterisation of Chinese parents had some depth to it as well.

I’ll also give some credit to the author for the representation of dyslexic Chinese characters in fiction because I find that this isn’t a common thing in books that I have read. I also liked the inclusivity of how Mei-Hwa come from an indigenous background, which was definitely refreshing as well.

But really, these things are the only reason why this book is not getting 0 stars.

I'm actually quite surprised by how the author is planning to release a sequel for this book because quite frankly, I don't see what there is to even expand upon because my combined interest in these characters is like an imaginary number - nonexistent.

I don’t know if it’s because I had such high hopes for this book that I’m the first and only one star rater here, but considering how we’re only 8 days into the new year and this book is already the biggest disappointment for me so far - yikes.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for tiffany (readbytiffany).
150 reviews609 followers
February 7, 2021
SECOND READ 2/2/2020 - 2/28/2019

FIRST READ 11/2/2019 - 12/18/2019

FULL REVIEW

When I first heard the plot and storyline for Loveboat, Taipei, my heart immediately grew 10x as this was the representation I had always been dreaming of my entire life. 💖

After flying through the pages in less than a day, I’m so happy to say that Abigail Hing Wen’s story not only met my expectations, but she went above and beyond, crafting a plotline that kept me continuously on my toes and yearning for more. 😍 From the heart-skipping romance to moments of self-discovery, this book was simultaneously full of fun and life yet also incredibly thought-provoking and reflective, exploring both the complex dynamics of culture and family.

description

Loveboat, Taipei follows the story of Ever Wong, a Taiwanese American girl who is sent by her parents to Chien Tan, an educational summer academy in Taipei notoriously known as Loveboat for its lack of adult supervision. Although Ever is initially hesitant to be placed in this new setting, she quickly finds friendship amongst the other students and even some unexpected romance along the way. Throughout the 8 weeks at the program, she learns more about her heritage and culture while also finding a creative outlet to further explore her passion for dance. ✨

Abigail Hing Wen’s writing completely immerses you in the gorgeous setting of Taiwan and with each page, I felt closer and closer to home. In some ways, it felt like reading a really good Asian drama with its subtle plot twists and intense moments where I needed to fangirl to the world. For those who consider 400+ page books to be on the longer end, I found the story to be perfectly paced—there was never a dull moment, but I also didn’t feel rushed. Most notably, I was blown away by how Wen captured Ever’s passion and heart for dancing with descriptions of movements that tell a story.

“And as I lunge and whirl my bo staff, dancing to the ancient drum beats, I fell all the parts of myself coming together: glad that a part of me is Chinese, a part of me American, and all of me is simply me.”


Now, let’s talk about the romance in this story because I was LIVING for each and every second of it. 😭💘 My heart was bouncing all over the place from my newest favorite literary love triangle (tied with Tessa/Jem/Will from The Infernal Devices), and these characters have become my children whom I must protecc(!!) **mild spoilers** On one end, we have golden boy Rick Woo, a Yale-bound/chess prodigy/football star who is everyone Asian mother’s dream son (or dream son-in-law), and on the other end, we have mysterious, brooding bad boy, Xavier Yeh. I don’t want to give too much away, but I adore these perfectly imperfect characters so so much.

description

It’s been two days since I’ve finished this book, and I honestly tear up thinking of how much I adored it. (am I being dramatic? yes. do I care? do.) As a Taiwanese American and a former ballet dancer, I felt such a strong connection to Ever, and it was so easy to fall in love with every other character as well. In 493 pages, Loveboat, Taipei, covers a range of thought-provoking topics from financial privilege, expectations of first-generation immigrants and children of diaspora, the intimacy of sex and love, the clashing messages of individualism and community amongst Eastern and Western culture, and so much more.

“We are powerful. We can be anyone we want to be—daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, citizens, human beings. We showed Taipei that tonight. And in the days to come, we will show the world.”


I sincerely hope you decide to pick up this book because I promise you won’t be disappointed! Abigail Hing Wen’s debut novel was a heartwarming showstopper, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. 🥰🎉

description

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Profile Image for Sara Rebotim.
21 reviews38 followers
November 12, 2020


I got this book as a present and I couldn’t be more happy 😊 This book is about this Asian-American girl called Ever, she have a dream to become a dancer, but her family wants her to become a doctor. One day she discovers her parents are sending her aboard to Taipei, so she can learn her culture and study Chinese, but what her parents don’t know is the place is also known as “ loveboat” where everything can happen , and Ever promise herself to break every single family rule.
I gave this book 4 stars, I enjoyed this book a lot, to be honest I just started to get into it more towards the end ( where all drama starts) 😂🙈 I think a few dramas where a little exaggerated and a lot of things going on at same time, but overall was a good book .
I do recommend this book to everyone with some curiosity about Asian culture and some topics like racism, cheating, domestic violence, dislexia and mental illness this book have it all, but if you’re very sensitive towards any of it, then maybe this book is not for you. 🤪
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
1,945 reviews300 followers
January 1, 2020
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

I was beyond excited to be one of the first chosen to read this ARC. I have been waiting for something like this to be written, specifically about the young adult Taiwanese American experience - not just about the Chinese or Asian experience growing up in America, but as a Taiwanese specifically and to have it written ever so accurately by someone who understood, is pretty special.

College bound Ever Wong was sent to Taiwan the summer before entering college to study medicine. Ever’s parents feel she is too American and a cultural immersion experience in Taiwan is just the answer. In Taiwan, Ever discovers her true passions and matters of the heart.

Ever’s parents were immigrants and her father, though a doctor in Taiwan, struggles here in America. The hopes and dreams of immigrant parents are passed on to their children dictating their future - this was not unusual. Ever deep inside would rather be performing as a dancer, and is struggling with the decision of going to Art School instead but fears the disappointment of her parents.

Wen wrote an amazing story! The book is absolutely enjoyable and read very quickly despite it being over 450 pages, and I almost didn’t want it to end. Wen created characters that I was immersed in, and fell in love with. I felt the angst, tension, love of a parent to a child, the sacrifices, and strength to be honest with each other, throughout the book. Additionally, Wen writes masterfully about friendship, first loves, challenges and the competitive drive to be better. For many they really just want to experience love and understanding from their family.

Asian or not, these themes are relatable and will be enjoyed by a wide variety of readers who enjoy YA, New Adult, and coming of age stories. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Kelsea Yu.
534 reviews99 followers
December 3, 2019
It's hard to know where to start with this review - I usually have the hardest time reviewing books I love (knowing I'll never do them full justice), but I'm going to try my best. Because I need to convince EVERYONE to read this book! Yes, that means you.

I'm going to go with a totally cliche line, but it's so so true. This book made me feel seen. Growing up, I never thought about the lack of Chinese American characters in books... until I read my first Amy Tan novel. And still, every time I read a book with a Chinese American main character, I'm reminded once again of that moment. That realization. Oh, there others who share my experiences. There are others out there like me.

Loveboat, Taipei made me tear up for many reasons, but especially for the personal cultural connection. There were things in the story - little things - that made me realize _____ is actually a cultural thing, not just a quirk of my family. It was shocking to realize that I honestly don't know whether a lot of things my family does are "Chinese" things or "my family" things.

I read Loveboat, Taipei over Thanksgiving weekend, while I was visiting my family. My mom is from Taiwan, so of course I talked her ear off about the book. Those conversations actually led to her telling me more about her childhood. I told her the premise of the story and she told me her best friend from college had gone to one of these programs and came back with a boyfriend! I'm forever grateful to Abigail Hing Wen for writing a book that sparked those conversations. Conversations that allowed my mom to reminisce and me to listen and learn.

I should add that my parents weren't nearly as strict as Ever's parents, but I had Chinese friends whose parents were. I thought that aspect was written really well, with a lot of compassion for both sides (teen and parent). I love how that element played out.

And beyond all of the personal cultural connections for me (that won't be relevant to a lot of readers), this story is just plain fantastic. Romcoms are really far from my usual genre choices and I tend not to enjoy romance plots or subplots in general. I accepted this book from Epic Reads because it's an #ownvoices story set in Taiwan, but I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the romcom aspects. Wow, was I wrong!

This romcom is anything but frivolous. It's ridiculously fun, but it also touches upon a LOT of powerful themes. True to the genre, the book doesn't really dive into "gritty" issues (nothing on screen), but they are deeply emotional and relatable themes. I'm in awe of the author for balancing entertainment and depth so, so well. It's fun and important. That is HARD to do.

I think the only thing I wish there'd been more of is local Taiwan. I wanted to experience the city more. But I also understand that this is just my personal desire because of my own family's background and that this book was SO packed that it would be hard to add in much else.

Anyway, as with most reviews I've written about books I love, this review is all over the place. It's just hard to figure out what to put in specifically without listing every single element and telling you how well done it was. Instead of a big list, I'll sum it up for you: this book is compassionate, entertaining, powerful, and phenomenal and you need to read it!

It's out January 7, 2020, and I highly recommend pre-ordering!
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