Review: Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen

Title: Fake It Till You Break It
Author: Jenn P. Nguyen
Rating: ★
Summary: Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives, and their mothers are convinced that they’d be the perfect couple—if only they could stand to be in the same room. After yet another attempt to push them together, Jake and Mia decide they’ve had enough, hatching a plan to get their moms off their backs—permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time. The only problem? Maybe they don’t hate each other as much as they once thought...


Note: an eARC of this title was acquired via NetGalley.

So, here’s the thing: I didn’t enjoy Fake It Till You Break It. Like, at all. Since signing up for the Year of the Asian reading challenge, finding books written by Asian or Asian-American authors is always at the back of my mind. To see that there was a young adult contemporary romance featuring a Korean-American main character and written by (to the best of my knowledge) an Asian-American author seemed like a double-score. That bright pink cover? Gimme. Fake dating? Absolutely.

Unfortunately, Jenn P. Nguyen’s story was just very meh the whole way through. It wasn’t so much poorly written as juvenile and in need of some solid editing. I found myself rolling my eyes through most of the book, wishing for substance amid the paper-thin character-building and barely-there plot. On top of the “twelve-year-old’s idea of what it must be like to be a high-school junior and in love” vibe, the story felt very much like a connect-the-dots attempt to include as many tropes and caricatures as possible.

I should have probably DNF’d once I realized that I didn’t care at all about either Jake or Mia, the book’s main characters, or buy into their reasons for fake dating. I should have definitely DNF’d when I realized their chemistry was lacking that certain je ne sais quoi every romance needs. Nguyen was never successful in selling Mia and Jake as “enemies,” Mia’s crush on a fellow drama-geek was clearly there to add unnecessary romantic strife, and Jake’s “fued” (hated? apathy?) toward his brother didn’t fit well, either. On top of it all, Jake and Mia’s mothers were pushy as hell, and their behavior toward their children was borderline problematic; for them to literally say—after the two plus hours I spent reading—”Get together. Don’t get together. To be honest, we don’t really care anymore” just made me want to throw my iPad in frustration.

I’m happy that other readers enjoyed Fake It Till You Break It, but to me, the book was a complete dud. I probably should have just read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.