Sophia Rose is here today with the young adult RomCom, Love, Decoded by Jennifer Yen. Check out this easy, low-angst story of a girl figuring out love and life.
For fans of Jenny Han and Jane Austen, a rom-com that’s equal parts hilarious and heartfelt about the unexpected consequences of one teen’s quest to help her friends find love, from the author of A Taste for Love.
High school junior Gigi Wong strives to be the best: the top student, the perfect friend, and the ideal daughter. But it’s tough when there’s always someone who is just a little bit better. With college applications looming, she can’t help but worry that she won’t make the cut. Thankfully, her best friend Kyle never fails to find the right words–and the perfect bowl of ramen–to cheer her up.
After her teacher, Ms. Harris, announces she’ll be nominating students for an app writing contest, Gigi is determined to be picked. After all, first prize is an exclusive tech internship, sure to make her application stand out. There’s only one problem: she doesn’t have a winning program. It isn’t until transfer student Etta admits she’s struggling to fit in at Superbia that Gigi stumbles on an idea. She’ll use her coding skills–and the matchmaking experience she’s gotten from weekends with Auntie Rose–to create a friend matching app! Etta will meet new people, and Gigi will guarantee her acceptance into college. It’s foolproof.
What Gigi doesn’t expect is for her app to go viral around school. Soon, she finds herself at the center of a scandal—and at odds with both Etta and Kyle. Can Gigi fix what went wrong, or will her desire to be perfect cost her the people she cares about most?
Sophia Rose’s Review
A bright, uptown private school girl takes an ultra-modern approach to her Asian auntie’s old-school matchmaking career to win an exclusive tech internship contest. But, she must learn if the wayward ways of the heart can truly be decoded into an app.
In this follow up standalone story to A Taste for Love, the hero’s younger sister has her own coming of age challenge in which her friends to lovers romance takes on the flavor of Jane Austen’s Emma. Gigi may be popular, privileged, and sees herself skilled with setting others to rights. But, like the classic matchmaker, seems to have a blindspot to the error codes she is making along the way.
Love, Decoded is a light and adorable coming of age story that was a qualified good read. It was loaded with an engaging Asian backdrop and cast of characters living in NYC and had a crisp modern feel with the private school students learning to be tech savvy and a strong base in maths and sciences. I loved seeing all this and enjoyed the modern world feel. There were nuances of family expectation, race, social strata, future plans, and more to add depth though without much drama attached to these social elements.
The book seemed to glide along on the surface and didn’t dig deeply into the social issues, relationships or characters’ development. I think it was partly the writing style, but mostly story content that caused this. I can’t honestly say I got more than moderately engaged with the story or vested in the main characters as a result. In fact, I was bored some of the time and the ending was a mixed bag. Fortunately, there is humor throughout that I appreciated especially when some of Gigi’s mistakes, that many of us would have made when we were younger, had me cringing knowing what would be the result.
The romance is a side line to Gigi’s own story as she must ride high, fall to the bottom, and learn from it all. Gigi has a high opinion of herself that other people helped cultivate and it leads her into thinking she’s all that and a bag of chips. There were a lot of fun comparisons to Jane Austen’s Emma especially the fallible main character Gigi, but ultimately, this is its own story and characters. I could cheer for Gigi to get a clue and fix all she broke including the very good thing she has with Kyle. I could have wished that Kyle played a larger role in the story, but, then again, Gigi wasn’t ready to change and that kept him at a distance. It was sweet, but also had its funny moments.
So, there were aspects that left me indifferent, but I could appreciate the easy, low-angst story of a girl figuring out love and life, sometimes painfully, set against her Asian neighborhood, friends, family and school. I will recommend it to those who want something light and easy, humorous and tender.
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