Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Collaborative feature with Alexa. We read ARCs together and post our reviews on the same date.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love 
by Maurene Goo
pub 5/30/17 by  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
YA - Contemporary
Received ARC from publisher
Plot • Desi Lee is an overachiever, lovable but awkward know-it-all and has been working towards her goal of attending Stanford with single-minded determination. She's also got great friends and a good relationship with her dad. The one thing that's eluded her throughout all of high school is.. a boyfriend. She's never had one and turns into a walking, talking disaster whenever she even tries to flirt or have a mere conversation with a guy she's interested in. Then she meets moody artist and new student Luca Drakos and she comes up with a plan to get his attention. For years her father has been subjecting her to Korean dramas and she decides to take a page from their book when she realizes the heroines always get the guy. So why not find the "formula" in these shows and apply it to real life? This is exactly what Desi does and hilarity ensues.

Characters • I'm not going to lie, I experienced a lot of secondhand embarrassment while reading about Desi's many antics. At first I couldn't believe someone could have such bad luck but then later when she decides to throw in the Korean drama craziness, it got pretty over the top. Like to the point where she felt like a caricature instead of an actual real life person I could imagine myself knowing. But in spite of her nuttiness, there is something sweet about the naive way she truly believes her love life can be solved by following a few easy steps. I think her character shined most when she interacted with her dad (loved that he was a K-drama fan!), her friends and when she let herself be real around Luca.

Writing • The concept and writing was a lot of fun but as I mentioned earlier, it did get way over the top. I would've liked to see things majorly toned down so that the characters could feel more like IRL people instead of stereotypes (the moody artist, the type-A student who has to follow steps for everything, etc).

Overall feelings • I liked it and it was a quick, cute read but it didn't 100% click for me.

What is your favorite Korean drama or movie? • I went through a phase in college where I loved watching Korean movies! The first one I saw was My Sassy Girl and it's probably still my favorite for nostalgic reasons. A close second would be Il Mare.


  1. I felt the same! It was really cute and fun but VERY farfetched.

  2. I loved this one--it might be a favorite of the year (and not even because one of my friends is thanked in the acknowledgements!). I didn't mind the over-the-top elements because to me it just made the story feel more like an actual K-Drama as Desi intentionally (and sometimes unintentionally) followed her K-Drama steps to true love. I loved Goo's writing and think she really nailed the pacing and dialog in this story too which definitely helped. It also makes me happy that there are so many fun contemporaries coming out in this vein--they've been warming my cold, bitter heart lately.

  3. This was just a really fun one to read! Yes, it was definitely farfetched in a lot of ways, but I still enjoyed it tremendously. Plus, all the nods to K-Drama steps were perfect ;)


with love,