I’m pretty sure I heard about I Believe in a Thing Called Love (Maurene Goo) through Goodreads, a site that I’m on but, like, don’t really know how to use. (Seriously, how does that website work? What am I supposed to do with it? How do I use it to make book friends? Please advise.)
I immediately wanted to read it because a) it’s pink, b) it’s about Korean dramas, and c) it’s pink.
What? I like pink.
What I Believe in a Thing Called Love is about:
Desi Lee is all about having a plan. Plans have gotten her this far in life, and they’re going to get her even farther—all the way to Stanford. Desi’s life has been one long string of successes…except in love. In love, the best she can do is flail uselessly and make a fool of herself.
Determined not to leave such a huge gap in her résumé, Desi decides that she’s going to get herself a boyfriend using the most Desi-proof method she can think of: A step-by-step plan based on the Korean dramas that her dad watches nonstop. She sets her sights on Luca Drakos—an unreasonably hot human being/art god—and pursues love as only the hapless heroine of a Korean drama can: with gusto, with carefully-timed accidents, and eventually, with true love.
My thoughts on I Believe in a Thing Called Love:
This story was CUTE. It’s the cutest, fluffiest little bean I’ve read in ages. The whole thing felt like munching on a giant spool of candyfloss while riding a unicorn over a rainbow made of gummy bears.
Desi was a great heroine. It was a lot of fun to watch this dorky little control freak deal with the very real internal struggle of feeling like she had to succeed, had to get into Stanford, had to make her mother proud. There was a little part of me that wondered why she was so dead-set on getting a boyfriend, but that melted away as I got to know her better and realized why it was so important to her to succeed at every turn.
I loved Desi’s relationship with her dad, who was the absolute sweetest. He was a big ol’ softie who liked to watch Korean romances and spend time cooking with his daughter. I thought it was really neat to see a middle-aged male character be so unabashedly into soppy romances.
My favorite character, strangely enough, was Violet. She only appeared in a few scenes, but she intrigued me. Her whole tension with Desi was great and I would totally read a spinoff of her high school years, her time with the art club, and her own personal journey as a socially awkward Korean American.
(I would also totally read a spinoff about Fiona. Hot damn, Fiona was amazing. Where is her spinoff. Where is her reality TV show. Where are the Instagram photos of her chilling with Beyoncé.)
I will admit that, for the longest time, I didn’t really know what to think of Luca. I was having trouble figuring out what I should like about him—what made him different from all the other swoonworthy YA love interests out there. He seemed very much a cookie-cutter love interest to me.
But then I gave it a bit of thought, and I got it. Luca is a K-drama figure. They’re all K-drama figures.
This entire h*cking book is a K-drama for a Western audience.
Now, full disclosure, I’m not a fan of K-dramas. I’ve tried to be. Dog only knows I’ve tried. I like the thought of watching unreasonably attractive people with perfect hair fall in love. But every time I’ve tried to watch a K-drama on Netflix, something hasn’t clicked. I’ve always felt like I don’t know enough about Korean culture to “get” it. (Full disclosure, I’m the same with anime. If I knew more about Japan, Japanese culture, and what Japanese audiences want from their media, I think I’d have an easier time appreciating it. #IOveranalyzeEverything)
It’s for precisely this reason that I really fell in love with I Believe in a Thing Called Love. It was a K-drama for a Western audiences. It had the classic K-drama characters, tropes, and incidents (car crashes! Runaway boats! Falling into pools!), but I didn’t watch it and think, “…What the ever-loving h*ck is going on here?” I knew exactly what was going on and why. I had the context that I needed in order to stop wondering what was going on, and start appreciating the ridiculous lengths that Desi was going to to get herself a boyfriend.
And you know what? It made me want to give K-dramas another go. Maybe I won’t be able to understand them like a Korean person would, but who cares? I’ll still be able to appreciate that they’re soft and fluffy and fun. Goo very kindly provides a list of K-dramas at the back of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, sorted into a bunch of subcategories (school, historical, fantasy, etc.).
So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go open up Netflix.
Do you like dramas? From what countries? I love the zeal of telenovelas but my sister assures me they’re downright sedate compared to the Turkish dramas she watched while studying abroad in Morocco. When it comes to TV, what do you prefer? Drama? Romance? Action? Mystery?