At the bookstore, I glanced at the inset of this novel and shrugged. Frankly in Love was great, but it felt like a fluke. Could David Yoon make another fake setup work? Yes, my friends. He totally did. Instead of a fake-dating scenario, we have a nerdy boy trying to impress a pretty girl by faking being in a metal band (like his older brother) and hiding his nerdy modeling habit and SFX video-making by dressing like a rockstar (again, like his brother). Of course, a foundation built on lies cannot hold, and you hold your breath waiting for the inevitable to happen.
And yet. What keeps this romantic comedy scenario from feeling too stale or overdone is the way Yoon tells it. Sunny’s friendships are wholesome and non-toxic, and frankly, we need much more representation of boys being friends. Nerdy guys need more non-stereotyped Big Bang Theory representation, too. And Sunny’s relationship with his parents and his brother Gray are complex and richly fleshed out.
I think the weak spot may be Cirrus, who could be construed as a manic pixie dream girl, but even so, her wholehearted fascination with American culture and Sunny’s fake world is entertaining and seems genuine. I definitely shed tears again, but these were more about being moved by the relationships at the center of the book. And there’s an unexpected twist I did not see coming, and it has nothing to do with romance. I think that’s pretty neat, but I won’t spoil it for you. This book fits a bill of what I need: lighthearted and wholesome, but also surprising. The D&D/cosplay/Ren Faire culture is also delightfully portrayed, which is just the icing on top.