Disclaimer: ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
I’m sorry but this book is really underdeveloped. It feels like the author relied on reader’s knowledge of Sky in the Deep so no part of the story was dedicated to expanding this new setting in any meaningful way. The plot is straightforward, but it feels a little recycled and the addition of new characters with no background made the story hard to get into at first. I’m not against “fate” as a trope, but you still have to develop the characters and I don’t think Young did that. Halvard and Tova probably shared three scenes together (mostly in battle as enemies) and before you know it, they were in love. In the end this book left me wondering, “so…that’s it?” I think a bit more character development would’ve made this a more enjoyable read. 2/5 stars.
Disclaimer: Thanks so much Penguin Random House Audio and Libro.fm for the advance listening copy.
Objectively, this is a really good debut novel. I enjoyed the writing style, the characters, and the social commentary on race and anti-blackness in Asian American communities. Essentially, this is a story about family and identity. Yoon did an extraordinary job tackling Frank’s cultural identity, his internal conflict, and familial expectations. I think this book wonderfully depicts how difficult it is to balance American culture and your native cultural (specifically Korean culture in this book) when you have immigrant parents.
I enjoyed all those things, but the story I got in Frankly in Love wasn’t what I expected going into it. I went into this expecting a rom-com based on the marketing and that’s not what this was. The fake dating is one of many side plots and quite frankly (no pun intended), the weakest aspect. By the time I got to the middle of the book, the romance was an afterthought and I’d forgotten that Frank even had a love life because it paled in comparison to Frank’s relationship with his parents and other family issues. I picked this up specifically because I wanted to read a romance with POC characters, but I had to let go of that expectation to enjoy this story for what it truly was. 3.5/5 stars.
Have you read either of these books? What did you think?