Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Hello, I Love You

title: hello, i love you
author: katie m. stout
book birthday: june 9, 2015
rating: 2 stars


Let me say in advance: I apologize to anyone I might offend in this review but I have thought long and hard about it and I'm just going to say what's on my mind.

First: Am I seriously the only one that saw the name "Jason" and thought of Jason from Dream High?!
Ok now that's out of my system.

During my absence from blogging and reading the year I was pregnant, I was depressed. I have always loved watched foreign movies, anime, manga etc. February 2014 I discovered Viki and the world of Korean dramas and KPOP and I fell in love. So, when I read the synopsis of Hello, I Love You I was so excited that two of my loves (books and K-dramas) had been brought together. However, this book felt like it was trying too hard to be a Korean drama and it failed miserably.

I never doggie-ear books but I did to this one. My husband asked me multiple times if something was wrong because it was so out of character for me to do so. Yes, something was wrong. I doggie eared a bunch of pages where I found an awkward reference to Korean culture, where Grace said something dumb and incompetent,  if "Korean" or "Korea" was written more than 5 times on a page, and anything else that completely bothered me. I stopped counting at 30 doggie eared pages.
first thing I caught (aside from Grace's little excursion from the airport to the school): "no one listens to KPOP in America" -_- what am I? chopped liver?
pg 34: the commentary on the school system.
pg 37: while in Korean class Grace says to Jason: "You're Korean. Why are you in this class anyway?" That's like saying: "You're American and speak English. Why are you taking English class?" As a teacher, this one really got on my nerves. Basically most of pg. 37 and 38 got on my nerves.

OH! here's a good one:
Jason: Seoul is really western, so I think you'll like it.
Grace: Are you implying that I don't like non-Western places?
Jason: Well you're not exactly known for your cultural sensitivity.

Yup that sums up Grace.
I do not like Grace's character at all. I think she was arrogant, spoiled, and full of herself. What person googles international boarding schools and goes to the first one that pops up without researching the country? Seriously? And her comments about the culture were offensive. I understand it may have been the author's intention to create Grace's character this way but it was taken too far. Grace didn't understand why people enjoy foreign language movies, she didn't understand Korean fashion, that Koreans play musical instruments like a guitar, that there is a lot of sea food in Korean cuisine. She displays extreme cultural intolerance that makes me afraid for those reading that are not familiar with Asian culture because Grace's opinion is not one that should be the first they hear or read.
Also about Grace, while the cover is beautiful, the girl on the cover does not match Grace's description in the book. From what I read, Grace likes to curl her hair and is more full figured.

I agree with the comments on goodreads that say that you could place these characters in any country and have the same story. If it weren't for "Korean" repeated over and over you would think Grace fell in love with an America pop star. I would hate for Grace to come to where I live. She would try to influence Latino music and save a Dominican.

Another thing that bothered me is the useless love triangle and insta-love. At first the love triangle worked and I wanted to see the jealousy it would bring and the choice she would have to make between guys but after the band broke up, the love triangle was forgotten. Also, Grace's knowledge of music was obnoxious. It was like "white girl is here with real music to save the day". When she sees Jason, she calls him the "hot Korean". They basically bond over how much Jason is like her brother who became an alcoholic. Their whole relationship is a tug of war but the only one fussing is Grace. One minute she wants him, the next it's too much too fast or their too different or his drinking is too much blah blah blah. She snaps too quickly. It's ridiculous how fast Grace flips a switch and gets angry with Jason almost like she's looking for a reason to be angry with him all the time.

The only thing I truly enjoyed in this book is Sophie's character. I loved her. I felt like she had a more interesting story going on as the sister of the star, coming from a broken family, going from America back to Korea, falling for her brother's band mate who didn't want a relationship with her because of her brother. *sigh* I want a book on just her.

I see why so many people do enjoy this novel. I understand that if live in a place where you don't have very much diversity in your town and you are not familiar with Asian culture in general that you would find the world in Hello I Love You fascinating and want more. If you are familiar with Asian culture, I understand why you are offended like I was. I do not see how anyone could gain an appreciation for Korean culture from this book. South Korea was like a stationary stage setting in which Grace came to terms with her brother's death and found a boyfriend. The premise of this book had such promise and it was spoiled by Grace's character and the under representation of Korean culture.  Grace gained NOTHING from being in Korea that she could have gotten anywhere else. Rather than bringing awareness to culture and diversity, Hello I Love You danced around it.

*** On another note, the author posted on her blog what happened to the characters after. She says that another book will not be written and Hello I Love You is a stand alone novel. To read what happens visit Katie M. Stout's blog here: So What Happens After Hello I Love You?

Personally, I felt like the characters deserved an epilogue or something if she put this much thought into the characters' life after the story was over. Again I heart Sophie.

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