Book Review: 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz

Book Review: 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz

29 Dates
by Melissa de la Cruz

Blurb: Jisu's traditional South Korean parents are concerned by what they see as her lack of attention to her schoolwork and her future. Working with Seoul's premiere matchmaker to find the right boyfriend is one step toward ensuring Jisu's success, and going on the recommended dates is Jisu's compromise to please her parents while finding space to figure out her own dreams. But when she flubs a test then skips out on a date to spend time with friends, her fed-up parents shock her by shipping her off to a private school in San Francisco. Where she'll have the opportunity to shine academically—and be set up on more dates!

Navigating her host family, her new city and school, and more dates, Jisu finds comfort in taking the photographs that populate her ever-growing social media account. Soon attention from two very different boys sends Jisu into a tailspin of soul-searching. As her passion for photography lights her on fire, does she even want to find The One? And what if her One isn't parent and matchmaker approved?

Cover Review: It's a bit bland, but it gives you a good feel for what the book is going to be. The pink colors point towards the romance, while the cover model is Korean, like Jisu. I would have liked more color in the background, but it's well designed other than that.

Plot: There was a lot going on, with Jisu moving to America, deciding about college, and going on dates, but it was handled skillfully and never felt overwhelming. There was also a great slow burn romance with a boy she meets early on that I really loved. The kind where the protagonist is suddenly like, "hey, I like this person!". It had some cool unique formatting, adding in the seons like a screenplay almost between chapters, and it was really hard to put down.

Characters: I had mixed feelings about Jisu, which is always a bad sign for a book. On one hand, I did like her. She was fun, easy to empathize with on some points, and I liked that she was into photography (you don't see a lot of characters like that). But on the other hand, she could be really mean sometimes in the name of honesty, and I hate when people are like that. Plus she's going through a lot of things I have no experience with, so it makes it difficult to connect.

As for other characters, we've got two boys, one who's a player (which she's warned about and falls for anyway) and one who is "just a friend". She also has some friends both from Korean and America. Honestly, I don't remember much about them. My favorite secondary character was her grandfather.

World: A very small portion of the book takes place in Korea (maybe two chapters) before she's shipped off to America, and most of that takes place in San Francisco. I liked the setting, since all books in California seem to take place in LA. It felt well researched too, mentioning little things and places that seemed very unique to the city.

Other: One of the biggest issues I had with this book (besides not quite liking Jisu) was that it was hard for me to connect with. Jisu is Korean moving to America, worrying about college, and dating, none of which I have experience with. While books about people from other cultures are great, one of their troubles is that you can't empathize with their problems as much.

But to end on a positive note, this was a romance book that was. . .wait for it. . . clean! There was minimal cursing and only one small make-out scene. Not even any mention of going further. So that was highly refreshing.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on books where the protagonists is very different than you? Tell me in the comments.

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