Recent DNFs: American Panda and Meet Cute

February 21, 2018 / 1 Comment / Mini-Reviews, Review

Hey guys, hope you’re doing well. Today I have a couple of reviews for books that just didn’t work for me: American Panda by Gloria Chao and Meet Cute, a YA anthology. Check them out and let me know if you agree with my thoughts or not!


Recent DNFs: American Panda and Meet CuteAmerican Panda

Author: Gloria Chao
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: February 6th 2018
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada (thank you!)
Format: ARC
My rating:
Buy It: | | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.

REVIEW: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Oh man. American Panda is one I seriously wish I’d loved more. It’s got an Asian-American protagonist going to college with the baggage of a tiger mom, jilted dreams of being a dancer, tons of Mandarin, and a cute Japanese-American love interest. And yet, Mei’s story of going to MIT and fulfilling her family’s dreams of becoming a doctor when she’s a germaphobe was one that just didn’t grab me. I found the narration and the character grating, and the story itself just a bit too on the nose. I’ve experienced a lot of what Mei has (fat-shaming, random superstitions, parents who really don’t understand the clash between being Asian and being North American), and yet, I felt like the book never surprised me in the half of the book I managed to get through. While I did like the romance, it wasn’t enough to override my frustration and occasional boredom with the main character. I know it was supposed to be funny at times, but I just felt anxious the entire time I read. I hope others got more out of it than I did.


Recent DNFs: American Panda and Meet CuteMeet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: January 2nd 2018
Source: ARC from Raincoast Books (thank you!)
My rating:
Buy It: | | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of "how they first met" from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour's beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard's glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon's imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno's story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick's charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

REVIEW: Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined To Meet

Meet Cute is a bit of a hard book to finish – and a hard book to DNF. Honestly, it’s not really fair to DNF an anthology, but I was so meh on the stories that I did read in this book that I really had no motivation to continue.

Here are my thoughts on the stories I did get through:

Somewhere That’s Green by Meredith Russo – transgender girl/closeted gay religious girl romance. Way too on the nose, barely a meet-cute. There was no subtlety to this at all and I found it hard to get through.

Oomph by Emery Lord – two girls meeting in an airport. I’m an Emery fan, so I loved the writing and characters, even though I was just okay on the story. I did appreciate that Emery never tried to push the relationship past what it was in the frame of the story.

The Dictionary of You and Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout – boy and girl “meet” because boy refuses to return a book to the library. This one was cute, but a little light on substance for me. I found the boy really annoying for some reason.

The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies – girl/boy chance love at first sight on passing subway cars. I really liked this one – it was unique in using statistics, and the MC was strongly developed. So, so cute. THIS is a meet-cute.

Something Real by Julie Murphy – fangirl meets the object of her fandom on a dating reality show…and gets more and less than she expected. To say more about what this is about would be telling. I really liked Murphy’s approach to this concept, even though it wasn’t really a meet-cute to me. Still, I appreciated that the characters had a lot of depth and heart in a short amount of space.

Say Everything by Huntley Fitzpatrick – girl and boy get together at girl’s waitressing job. Boy is rich kid, girl used to be but is now in reduced circumstances. Again, not really a meet-cute to me, and way too light. I also found the story forgettable – I could barely remember whether I’d read it the next day.

Overall, this anthology was a disappointment for me. I was very very excited for it, as it included some of my favorite authors, and great cover. Unfortunately, I can’t actually recommend it. I think this group of stories would have benefitted from some editing and solid advice on how to approach the theme.

Have you read either American Panda or Meet Cute? What were your thoughts? Agree/disagree? Did I miss some good stories in Meet Cute? Let me know in the comments. 

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One response to “Recent DNFs: American Panda and Meet Cute

  1. I think it was the ‘on the nose’ story full of our culture that was what worked for me in AP. I can’t say for sure that it was a story that allowed for escapism (which is both a good and bad thing I guess) but having this on the shelf space is great. But, sorry to hear it didn’t jive with you, Tiff!

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