Book Review: LOVEBOAT REUNION by Abigail Hing Wen

Title in gold on black with red lanterns floating in the sky
Genre: Contemporary
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book

*SPOILER ALERT: contains spoilers for LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI*

Synopsis:

Book cover for LOVEBOAT REUINION: title in gold on two teen back to back on black

Sophie Ha and Xavier Yeh have what some would call a tumultuous past.

Hearts were broken, revenge was plotted—but at least they’re friends now. They left the drama behind them back in Taipei—at their summer program, Loveboat—forever.

Now that fall is here, they’re focusing on what really matters. Sophie is determined to be the best student Dartmouth’s ever had. Xavier just wants to stay under his overbearing father’s radar, collect his trust fund when he turns eighteen, and concentrate on what makes him happy.

But the world doesn’t seem to want either to succeed. Sophie’s college professor thinks her first major project is “too feminine.” Xavier’s father gives him an ultimatum: finish high school or be cut off from his inheritance.

Then Sophie and Xavier find themselves on a wild, nonstop Loveboat reunion, hatching a joint plan to take control of their futures. Can they succeed together . . . or are they destined to combust?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I rarely reach for contemporary – it’s just not my thing, and that’s a personal taste thing. However, after reading Abigail Hing Wen’s second book, she’s become an auto-buy author for me.

One of the things I loved was all the pressure and stress of educational expectations. Sophie is in her first year of college and Xavier is repeating his final year of high school. I’m in the final year of my degree, and I could relate so easily to the stress of deadlines and the desire to achieve even as obstacles pile up.

Xavier has dyslexia and dysgraphia, and the book deals with the abuse he gets from his family over that. By comparison, Sophie is supportive and understanding, helping him gain the confidence in finding his own way to express himself and navigate the world.

Also Sophie as a girl in STEM?! Yes please! I also loved that she got to blend it with a “typically feminine” passion for fashion because often I see female characters who like STEM pushed as these “unfeminine” characters, who don’t care about appearances. And yeah, some of us are like that, but it’s such a stereotypical view – and the fact that Sophie wasn’t portrayed like that was a really nice mirror to the way the Yeh women end up taking centre stage at the end.

There is a bit of romance between Sophie and Xavier, but it felt very much like a background element of the book (which is what I prefer in contemporary.) I also appreciated that it felt built on friendship, like they were getting attracted to each other after talking and supporting one another as friends.

Most of the criticisms I’ve seen of this book relate to how it deals (or doesn’t) with events of the previous book, and that Sophie is now the protagonist after being the antagonist in the previous book. It’s been two years since I read LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI, which means my memory of it is hazy, so I read LOVEBOAT REUNION practically like a standalone. It works so well in that context.


Read my reviews of other books by Abigail Hing Wen:

Loveboat, Taipei (this series):

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