Thanks to the publisher who sent me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ever is a girl who has been bound for medical school her entire life, but she gets lightheaded at just the sight of blood and longs to dance. Her strict parents don’t see a future in dance and take away Ever’s last summer before going to medical school by sending her to a summer school in Taipei to experience their culture. Unbeknownst to her parents, the school is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknames Loveboat, where kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.
Loveboat, Taipei is a fast-paced whirlwind of teenage romance and hookups with big hints of important topics for all but one that children of immigrant parents can relate to. It is a fun read with a number of entertaining scenes that will be sure to make the readers laugh. It is always wonderful to see new diverse authors in the YA scene and we always need more of their voices in YA.
This book is ironically hilarious in a number of scenes. I found myself laughing out loud in parts and then having to contain my laughter when I was reading this book in public. The author wrote Ever’s passion for dance in such a way that it is like watching Ever dance throughout the book. I loved reading the scenes where Ever lost herself in dance or spent time choreographing her dances. As a reader you can really relate Ever’s passion to something you are passionate about and this helped strengthen the overall story for me a lot more.
Abigail Hing Wen did an excellent job of creating a number of really interesting characters that made the story full of entertaining scenes and situations. She got how teenagers act down perfectly. At the start of this book Ever comes across as the clumsy, boy-crazy female but by the end she is such a fun character to read about and I would love to read more about her. All the secondary characters are wonderfully written and fun to read about too and it is lovely to see so many characters that have been so well written and packed out.
I do wish we got to see more details of Taiwan throughout this book. There wasn’t a whole bunch of details about the beautiful island. When a book has ‘Taipei’ in the title I was expecting to read a lot more about the island and little bits of interesting trivia rather than only some of the famous tourist places.
Abigail Hing Wen really nails the family aspects in this book. There is an excellent balance between Ever appreciating her immigrant parent’s love and sacrifice for her whilst also chafing against the heavy pressure and restrictions that they place on her. As this is the first time that Ever has been away from her parents she initially rebels against her parent’s rule and as you follow Ever throughout the book this progresses into so much respect for her parents.
The romance in this book is sweet, healthy and just all round wonderful and I really enjoyed it. It is just the right amount of romance I was looking for and the right amount of sweetness without it being the centre of the book. It makes sure that the story is about Ever and her journey and not her romance.
Overall, Loveboat, Taipei is an enjoyable read that kept me engaged and interested the entire time I was reading it. If you are a fan of contemporaries this one is certainly one for you. A wonderfully diverse YA that is a lot of fun to read.