REVIEW: ‘Love, Decoded’ by Jennifer Yen had potential but struggled with its characters

 

Jennifer Yen is back with another Jane Austen retelling, this time she tackles ‘Emma’!

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Fans of Jennifer Yen’s A Taste for Love will be happy to return to its romantic world in Love, Decoded. This time around we get a story about James’s little sister, Gigi, and readers are in for lots of drama with her!

From the Blurb:

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 fool-proof.

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?

I absolutely loved A Taste for Love. Despite my addiction to reading every Pride and Prejudice retelling out there, it was a solid story on its own. I was positive that I was going to enjoy Love, Decoded just as much even if Emma isn’t my favorite Jane Austen book. Sadly, it fell short for me and left me disappointed.

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Gigi lives her life trying her best to be perfect at everything. She’s trying to be a good daughter, matchmaker at her aunt’s business, student, and a friend to the new girl at school. We get to read about all of this in Gigi’s life and this made for a lot of different plot lines. At times it felt overwhelming to be inside of Gigi’s head and the story’s pacing didn’t always work.

If you’re familiar with Jane Austen’s Emma then you won’t be surprised when I admit that Gigi wasn’t always likable. Jennifer Yen does a great job tackling Gigi’s privilege throughout the story and handles her character development really well. There were moments when I enjoyed Gigi despite her constantly judging others. I think by the end of the book readers will be able to root for her happy ending.

Love, Decoded is more of a coming-of-age story rather than a rom-com. The romance between Gigi and her childhood best friend, Kyle, was extremely lacking. I thought that we would be getting a lot of cute scenes shared between the two of them, but honestly, Kyle was hardly in the book. He didn’t play a major role in the story and this was disheartening because I love a good friends-to-lovers story.

Overall, I enjoyed Love, Decoded but it didn’t stand out to me. I wish there was less going on, especially when it came to the characters besides Gigi and Kyle; keeping up with the different relationships between all of them was confusing. I think cutting pieces of Gigi’s story out of this book would have helped it feel more balanced. I definitely would have been able to connect with the characters more as well.

If you were a fan of A Taste for Love then I think you should still give this book a try! Plus, James and Liza have a sweet cameo! Readers will be able to relate to Gigi’s growth and realize that it’s okay to not always be perfect at everything.

Lots of plot and not enough pages

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"And she is the reader who browses the shelf and looks for new worlds but finds herself." - I'm a writer who enjoys telling you all about the things I love, which includes a lot of books!

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