By Katie M. Stout
Available now from St. Martin's Griffin
Thanks to a Kdrama addiction, I couldn't imagine not reading HELLO, I LOVE YOU. It is the story of Grace Wilde who goes to an international school in South Korea to get away from family drama and ends up falling for Kpop star Jason (who is her roommate Sophie's twin brother).
The romance between Grace and Jason is the kind where he's a total dick to her but she can't resist because he's so hot. I thought HELLO, I LOVE YOU's Kdrama inspiration was fitting since it suffers from the same ailment as most Kdramas: Second Lead Syndrome. For those not familiar with the genre, the second lead is the love interest that doesn't get the girl. He's generally the guy who approaches romance like a normal person instead of going hot and cold without explanation. In this case, it is the drummer of Eden, Yoon Jae.
Jason's angst is about the fact that he's making manufactured pop instead of real music, and had a band member from the idol system (Yoon Jae again) forced on him. The fame bothers him sometimes, but those are the two that get the focus. I felt like his issues were given disproportionate weight compared to Grace's. She tries her best to help him, but I felt like only the end had him acknowledging the pain that drove her to Korea. Admittedly, Jason's unhappiness is driving him to drink and impending alcoholism is a present danger. One that is familiar to Grace, since her older brother was an alcoholic. She interferes, but mostly on behalf of her roommate. She has surprisingly little compunction about getting involved with another alcoholic after everything that went down in her life.
Look: HELLO, I LOVE YOU is a cute novel. However, it doesn't make half as much use of the Korean setting as it could. (Most of the book takes place at the school so that there isn't much reason to delve deeply into culture clashes.) Also, I never warmed up to Jason as the romantic lead. I did like Grace's journey to forgiving herself and liked it well enough as a beach read.
I think I'm just disappointed because I had really high hopes for HELLO, I LOVE YOU. I liked part of it, like Sophie and Tae Hwa's background romance and Yoon Jae's desire to be a dancer instead of a drummer. I'd read the Yoon Jae spinoff. HELLO, I LOVE YOU just didn't deliver my kind of froth. It also needed a car crash.