Review: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Title: Loveboat, Taipei
Author: Abigail Hing Wen
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 432 Pages
Published January 2020

Summary: “Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.” And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turn. Gone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop. But not every student is quite what they seem: Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance. Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret. Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye. And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit. When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.

When I first heard about this book and heard that it was being marketed as Crazy Rich Asians as a YA book, I was immediately intrigued. Crazy Rich Asians is one of my favorite book series, and I've also always been really intrigued by books that focused on the lives of the rich and glamorous. So, needless to say, I was super excited for this book to come out, and I tore into it the day it was released. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Ever Wong finds herself being shipped off to Taipei for a summer at Chien Tan, a strict educational program. But what Ever isn't expecting is for Chien Tan to be nicknamed "Loveboat" -- a summer filled with adventures, clubbing, hookups, and more. It's a world that Ever isn't used to and her parents would be shocked if they ever knew she participated in it. Which is precisely why she has to. And she knows that it's about to be a really, really interesting summer.

I really enjoyed reading this book! Like I said, I was a big fan of Crazy Rich Asians and I'm a sucker for any story that has to do with glitz and glamour -- AKA why I was such a huge fan of CRA and also Gossip Girl and The Selection and the like! So I devoured this book and seriously couldn't put it down, tearing through over 100 pages in a single day, just because I loved the story so much and didn't want it to end. Ever's narrative voice was really easy to settle into, and before long I found myself tagging along with her as she explored Taipei and even herself, learning to break all of her parents' strict rules and to chase her own freedom and happiness for once. Watching Ever's character change from the beginning of the novel until the end was definitely a really inspiring (and fun!) ride.

My favorite character in this book was definitely torn between Rick and Xavier, much like Ever is herself. They were both so different -- Rick being the "perfect" Chinese boy, with all of these accomplishments and a future so carefully mapped out for him, while Xavier is darker and more brooding, not really sure what he wants to do with his life, and also a lot more quiet and withdrawn than Rick is. Even though they seemed to be polar opposites, it was clear how much both boys cared, and I found myself swooning for them equally throughout the story.

(Spoilers here! Skip to the next paragraph to avoid them!) The only thing I wasn't super 100% crazy about with this book was the way that Ever juggled between Rick and Xavier. While she seemed happy with Rick in the end, we don't really get as much chemistry, love, and understanding as we see when she's with Xavier. Even though he wasn't the nicest guy in the beginning, I feel like he really changes throughout the story and even though I had a feeling she'd end up with Rick, I was pretty bummed for Xavier. But that's just my own personal preference!

Overall, I really loved Loveboat, Taipei. According to Goodreads, there's a second book coming, so if you need me, I'll be eagerly awaiting it! For now, if you're looking for a glitzy, glamorous, exciting new read about defying expectations, finding yourself, and maybe even falling in love, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up!


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