July 22, 2015 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm
Hello, I Love You: A Novel by Katie M. Stout
Publisher/Year: St Martin’s Griffin, 9 June 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Courtesy of the Publisher
Rating: 2 stars
Other books from author: This is her debut novel
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.
Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.
She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.
Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.
What I Thought…
I was quite excited to read this book, as it sounded like it would be right up my alley – contemporary YA romance set in a foreign country, with music in the background… Sounds like a book I’d love. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy reading this book for many reasons, and it didn’t live up to my expectations.
It never bodes well for me when a book is marketed as the next “awesome book like other awesome book!” In this case, Hello, I Love You was touted as the next Anna and the French Kiss and those are some big shoes to fill – that’s a 4.5 star read for me. For me, 9 times out of 10 those shoes aren’t filled, and Hello, I Love You unfortunately was not the exception to that rule. Yes, there are some superficial similarities – American girl goes to a foreign boarding school taught in English and struggles with her feelings for a male student in her new friendship group. But to be the next Anna, there needs to be more than just superficial similarities. There needs to be excellent writing, likeable characters, feasible storylines, the list goes on. This is the problem with trying to be the next book like “insert awesome book,” it’s never going to live up to the expectations and it’s better off trying to be the best version of itself instead.
I found the plotline to be completely unfeasible. Why on earth would an American teen run away to South Korea to escape her demons? Grace just picks a random country off a map and moves there, without any thought to it. And her parents just allow it… WHO DOES THAT! I don’t care if her father is a multi-millionaire record producer, that’s completely unfeasible in my book. To top it off, she just happens to go to a school where a K-POP band are hiding out for the school year and boards with the sister of a band member. Said band member is attractive to Grace, despite her desires to steer clear of music. No subtleties or nuances to the storyline whatsover. Not to mention I found the writing to be over the top and juvenile, which didn’t really help matters.
On top of that, the characters were unlikeable. Grace was judgmental, superficial and culturally insensitive. I cringed throughout the book, I couldn’t believe some of the stuff I was reading. She hated everything about South Korea, which only made me scream “well, why did you go there?!” I get that she wanted to get away, but she could’ve achieved that without going to a country where she didn’t like any of the food/music/language. Since reading Nara’s review of the book, I cringed even more – Nara is Korean and spelled out quite a lot of the inaccuracies in the book about Korean culture, much like I probably would if it involved Australian or Italian cultures. The ignorance was simply astounding, and it very much reminded me of the stereotype of the American traveller, an image I wouldn’t have thought an American author would want to perpetrate. Very strange indeed.
Grace was also like an emotional yo-yo, jumping to extreme highs and extreme lows with nothing in between. I mentioned before that Grace was superficial; in fact, all of the characters were superficial and I didn’t connect with any of them. Everyone was very one-dimensional, with no real depth to them. I also wasn’t supportive of the romance between Grace and Jason at all, it was NOT pleasing to me – much like Grace, it yo-yoed all over the place and was more of an annoyance than anything else.
I started to get into the story a bit more towards the end, but by that stage I was just switching off on all the problems I had with the book and reading to finish it. I didn’t dislike it so much that it made me want to put it down, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it.
What did you think of this book? Did you enjoy it?