July 15, 2015

Book Review: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)
Rating:  (3.8)/5

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P.S. I Still Love You picked up where it left off on book 1. After all the drama Lara Jean experienced last year, it’s really a new year for her to face. Lara Jean wrote a letter to start the year but not another love letter for another boy she’d loved before. She wrote one for Peter. Peter Kavinsky who was on the list of five boys she’d loved, Peter Kavinsky who she got tangled with in fake relationship to save her from dilemma with Josh, Peter who she never thought she still had feeling for. She used to think that once she wrote a letter for a boy she’d loved, it meant she was finally over with her feelings. But apparently things were different with Peter because it’s not a letter to say goodbye to her feeling, it’s a letter to welcome the brand new feeling she felt for him.
This year everything was different. Her best friend slash neighbor, Josh slowly drifted away as his relationship with Margot had completely fallen apart. It’s a sad reality for Lara Jean while at the same time she had to deal with her own problems which seemed more and more like a really bad nightmare day to day. Another task for Lara Jean, she had to figure out her relationship with Peter, the boy who she loved too much ―for real this time, the boy who hurt her so much. For her, Peter was like this coin with two sides. He could flip to one side and back to the others quickly, which confused her most of the time. And when doubt and insecurity came crashing down on her, that’s when fate brought a distraction for her already tangled mind. A distraction that might not be that bad after all, a distraction that made Lara Jean learned that sometimes we need to be more realistic in life because yes, bad things would happen but if we constantly avoid meeting them then it’d be no life at all.
My first thought upon this book is that the ‘color’ of this book still somehow remains the same with its predecessor: a light read with short plot and some little twists. Generally, I enjoy this book even if sometimes I felt frustrated over some characters for the way they behave.
I like Song girls’s Dad! I love how he always tries hard to give the best for his girls. It’s just so sweet that he always takes his children to be more into their mom’s family, like when he insists of them wearing hanbok at New Year celebration. It’s so touching that he often reminisces good memories with his late wife in front of his children.
There are things that actually better from book 1 but there are also things that remain undeveloped from its former situation which quite frustrating I must say. Well, I’ll just put them into lists.

Things that actually better from To All the boys I’ve Loved Before:
• I have an issue with book 1 where it failed to show me the writing goal of the book. I couldn’t catch the message that the book wants to deliver through its story which ended up with me thinking of the book as pointless and just basically a light read for enjoyment only. P.S. I Still Love You is a light read, too, but it has an important message implied as its main concern which is how to live a real life where you don’t need to worry too much about everything. Even though the message is kind of subtle and is only highlighted in the end of the book, it’s a progress from nothingness in this important-message department of this series.
• I like Margot more in this book. She’s finally back to show just how big sister should treat her little sister. I like how she’s so quick in taking action to deal with Lara Jean’s real nightmare.
• Kitty is funnier and more manipulative, which is actually fun to read.
• New character is up: John Ambrose McClaren! He’s everything Peter isn’t. He is so gentle, way more mature than anyone among their friends circle, understanding, and caring. I was secretly hoping that Peter would be too messed-up that Lara Jean would finally end up with John Ambrose at some point…
Lara Jean’s attraction for John Ambrose is completely understandable. I don’t think she’s confusing for feeling something toward another boy while she says she loves Peter. Lara Jean is a teenager, after all. Teen girls are supposed to be confusing and feel attracted to a lot of boys, especially the good ones like John Ambrose. Good thing, Margot knows how to explain this phenomenon in a better way,

“Lara Jean, I think you half-fall in love with every person you meet. It’s part of your charm. You’re in love with love.”

(Margot; Chapter 50, P.S. I Still Love You)
• Lara Jean’s life is more directed. I like how she got herself into a lot of activities beside school and worrying too much of her relationship with Peter. I also like how she always tries to fill in the role of mother for Kitty. I love her efforts in baking Kitty homemade cake for school event and preparing as perfect as possible birthday party for Kitty.

Things that remains the same/even worse from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before:
• Characterization of Peter. Seriously, what’s the problem with this boy? He’s really hard to read. He acts so randomly and seems like don’t know what to do most of the time. I like it when he acts nice and sweet to Lara Jean, even more when he pulls out some heroic act at school for Lara Jean’s sake. In fact, at that point I really wished he could end up with Lara Jean in the end. But the more I read, the more I doubted his feeling for her. Peter seems like don’t know how to act around his ex-girlfriend slash Lara Jean’s ex-best friend, Genevieve. It’s really understandable that Lara Jean got so mad at him about Genevieve. I mean, which girl would be okay that her boyfriend always be at other girl ―NO, his EX-GIRLFRIEND’s beck and call like all the time? Like when things get too much for that EX-girlfriend, he would come in rescue for her no matter what and when, and basically abandoning other important things, including say, his NOW-girlfriend? It’s a major turn off for me, really. I know that it’s explained why Genevieve is behaving like that but no, it doesn’t justify anything. There are limits that you should follow in a relationship, and NOT being at your ex’s beck and call is one of them.
• The ending is so abrupt, rushed, and unprepared. The conclusion just comes out of nowhere. The scene in the end is actually where the important message lays down. It might be wrapped up in better way but unfortunately, it’s not. It’s really much worse than book one’s dear peter ending.

Now that I think about it, this book is a really light read with uneventfully simple plot. Just like book 1 was. Jenny Han wrote about such mundane things like going to high school, having problem at school, facing the double standard issue, family’s issue where kids trying to set up their single parent, and how relationship during high school is always the hardest because both the boy and the girl still learning how to put off their own egos to accept each other wholly while at the same time they still figuring things out about their own selves. This might sound boring this book brings a fresh air among contemporary YA that I’ve read where lately the themes are circling around characters with flawed past, death, or serious fatal illness. Not that I don’t enjoy those themes. I do but it’s nice to have a break from them once in a while.
I gave 3.5 stars to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Well, guess I’ll give more to this book: 3.8 stars. Because as much as I enjoy Jenny Han’s writing, I still couldn’t give 4 stars for this series. Maybe for Han’s another series? Guess I’ll give a try for Summer trilogy one of these days

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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