Reviews

Love, Decoded ARC Review // a coming-of-age story with lots of shenanigans, women in STEM, and a bit of matchmaking

Happy Saturday! It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it?

Well. Got through finals, but that was nearly three months ago. Now, instead of counting down to Spiderman No Way Home, I’m counting down to spring break. Which will be filled with college visits and April grappling with reality and the future. Soooo funnnnnn!! The whole ohhh it’s fine you have time! is feeling more like a curse than reassurance, because time is a ticking eeek. Oh well, might as well continue with my current plan of escapism and denial as long as possible yeah!

On the topic of escapism and denial (yeahhh a moment of appriciation for that oh-so-smooth transition that totally 100% was not planned from the start), may I introduce this delightful young adult contemporary. Because, as we all know, young adult contempoaries are in fact my fictional drug of choice (to be used for aforementioned escapism purposes, obvi) and deserve to be read by the bucketful.

So. Without further April rambles… Love, Decoded by Jennifer Yen!

*Big thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC to read and honestly review*

Book: Love, Decoded

Author: Jennifer Yen

Format: eARC

Published March 8th 2022 by Razorbill

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? (from Goodreads)

I absolutely loved Yen’s A Taste For Love, so when I heard that her next book, Love, Decoded, is another Jane Austen-ish rom-com, I was sold! But for a rom-com, it seemingly lacked in the “rom” department. I guess you could call the romance slow burn, but it was so slow and practically non-existent that I had a really hard time shipping the couple. 

Especially when it comes to friends-to-lovers romance, there needs to be some sort of romantic chemistry or unrequited angst between them. Since Gigi was totally oblivious to the fact that Kyle liked her until, like, really far in, it made the romance as a whole feel really lackluster. 

Even still, I think as a coming-of-age story, Love, Decoded holds its own. In true “Emma” fashion, Gigi passes oh-so-much judgment on others. A lot of her actions are enough to make me physically cringe (point in case: trying to convince her friend to buy a bunch of crazy expensive clothes and dropping designer names left and right.) Which, honestly, would have been fine if these moments were accompanied by a stronger character arc by the end. I wish Gigi would have taken more time to reflect on her privilege as an upper-class student towards the end of the book. 

I would also say that Love, Decoded had a lot going on. In the holy-shit-so-much-happening-choatic-maddness-is-unfolding-whaaaaat sort of way. With the coding competition (sidenote: bestie, did you have to name your app Quizzlet?? I had violent flashbacks to midnight cramming seshes everytime I read it ack), matchmaking, and lots of character relationships — there is a lot to keep track of. Some balance and closure for all of these really great elements would have done this book wonders. 

Overall, I liked how this book is a creative take on Emma and how Yen’s writing and humor shone through. If you go into this one with the expectations of a romance light coming-of-age story, then you’ll probably enjoy it more than I did. Love, Decoded is a solid read and I look forward to reading whatever Yen comes up with next!!

Do you plan on reading this one?? If you have already, what did you think??

4 thoughts on “Love, Decoded ARC Review // a coming-of-age story with lots of shenanigans, women in STEM, and a bit of matchmaking

  1. omg nooo, college is such a stressful thought i’m putting it off😅 but also…this review is everything!!! like, literally i agree with everything that you said!! the romance was not a big part but i enjoyed the chaos of the story, even though gigi got on my nerves a bit (that moment when she acted like 400 bucks wasn’t a lot for a pair of pants was really something). anyways, wonderful review!💜

    Liked by 1 person

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