Love, Decoded ARC Review // Asian Girls in STEM with a Dash of Romance

I don’t know what’s been happening in 2022, but I’ve been reading contemporaries and enjoying them. Watch summer come along and all I read is fantasy though.

Thank you so much Penguin Teen for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

rep: Filipino rep, Chinese rep, Chinese-American rep,

🖱 Asian girls killing it in STEM

💕 matchmaker vibes


Love, Decoded is such a good time. It’s a bit of a trainwreck (aren’t most rom-coms?) but a very entertaining one nonetheless (I don’t know what that says about me). We follow a girl named Gigi Wong who is Chinese and heiress to her great-aunt’s matchmaking business. However, after she submits an app of her own creation called Quizzlet to a competition for a highly esteemed internship, her life is turned on its head.

This is apparently a take on Jane Austen’s Emma (which I should probably read at some point). I loved how Gigi has a passion for computers and coding, and that leads to her creating an app with the intention of helping people make friends. It’s amazing seeing how many Asian characters are in this book and how fully fleshed out they are, each with different interests and hobbies.

Love, Decoded is far more of a coming-of-age story than it is anything else. Gigi makes friends, loses friends, and has to come to terms with her own prejudices and selfish wants. This book was uh…a little hard to read at times because of that. Gigi is rich rich. As in, when she goes shopping with her underprivileged friend Etta, she recommends a four-hundred dollar sweater like it’s nothing. Who has four hundred dollars to spend on a sweater? Why do rich kids have this much money? Am I just getting old and prickly?

She is just so oblivious to how rich she is. I’m pretty sure at least half of the designer brands in existence were mentioned in this book and meanwhile I’m just over here in the corner wondering if my Target jeans would make the fashion cut. I gotta say though, I did like the shoutout(s) to Cha Eunwoo. ASTRO is amazing and I think that you should go check them out right away because THE TALENT IS UNMATCHED.

Anyways, Cha Eunwoo aside*, Gigi is pretty annoying at times. She’s not very in-tune with the people around her, and not in a socially awkward way. She is just rather ignorant. Like, if you don’t say something straight out to her in a very direct way she simply will not comprehend it. Which is annoying as a reader because you’re forced to watch her ignore the things that should be obvious! I will say that I loved her best friend Kyle, and her new friend Etta a lot! I actually enjoyed the dynamics and personalities of most of the characters in this book. I think that some interesting topics such as the biracial identity crisis and being true to yourself were just glossed over in a way that actually fits the tone of the story really well. It never felt like too much, but just enough.

*he is a worthy distraction though let’s be real

The plot at times was kind of all over the place. On the one hand, we have Gigi trying to be a matchmaker. On the other hand, she’s putting together Quizzlet* and working day and night on it. Sometimes, she’d be incredibly kind and thoughtful. Other times, she’d be strangely cold to certain people for no reason other than…she felt tired? Overworked? Didn’t think that she and her Chanel purse were getting enough attention? And then we have a possible love triangle but also not really. I’m literally never sure of what this story wanted from me because it changes its mind more than Kanye West. Love, Decoded is very much a trainwreck. Albeit a very, very entertaining one that I couldn’t put down.

*but also…why is her app named quizzlet??? it’s literally the same as the very famous quizlet but with two z’s. kinda a poor naming choice imo but i’m not an author so who am i to judge

If you’re expecting a romance, you might want to reel in your expectations. The romance is very slowburn, and the love interest actually doesn’t get a ton of page-time. That’s why I’d definitely call this is a coming-of-age story with romantic side plots and undertones, just like Emma. If that interests you, then I’d definitely recommend Love, Decoded! It’s a very fluffy read that goes by quickly. Overall, I’d give this 3.5/5 stars. The extra 0.5 is literally just for Cha Eunwoo and if that doesn’t convince you just how subjective ratings are…nothing else will. Tell me: are you excited for this one? What’s a good Emma retelling? This comes out March 8, and you can order it now, add to Goodreads, and add to Storygraph.

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4 thoughts on “Love, Decoded ARC Review // Asian Girls in STEM with a Dash of Romance

  1. I admit the plot does not sound like my type of book but I am happy contemporaries are featuring Asian characters! And that other Asians are writing and publishing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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