The Bride Test by Helen Hoang Book Review
It was a pretty big surprise to me when I found out that one of the protagonists of this book was a side character of Helen Hoang’s debut that I absolutely LOVE called The Kiss Quotient (my review for that is here). After her first book being such a stellar, it was no surprise that I’d want to read the sequel. A huge thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia for kindly me sending a review copy at my request in exchange for an honest review.
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
I’ll be frank that this book was a slight disappointment. Not that it wasn’t an enjoyable book, because it was. It had so many great things to it, such as the characters and their development.
Khai was such a lovable character. He’s autistic and has his set routines and I loved reading about his personality quirks but he was also the character that almost made me cry since his character development involves him realising that he deserves to be loved and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him.
Esme’s character development was personally my favourite though because it’s one that I feel has applied and continues to apply to millions of immigrants looking for a better future in another country. Her need to look after her family is strong and she’s such a strong, independent and determined woman. Quan, Khai’s brother, was such a fun character and I wish that I could’ve read more with him involved.
Helen’s dialogue and tone setting were just as great as her previous novel, although what disappointed me a little was that the plot was pretty predictable for me. Some of the elements in Khai and Esme’s relationship were a little rushed at times, that it almost felt like a bit like instalove. I think what I loved so much from The Kiss Quotient that The Bride Test could’ve used more of is the element of time to develop the right relationship dynamic. The concept of marrying Khai off to a random girl from Vietnam isn’t exactly ethical when she’s trying to seduce him on purpose so I thought perhaps showing more of the time they spent together instead of glossing over the facts and being told how they eventually start having feelings for each other would’ve made for a smoother plot and relationship for these characters. There were also some scenes at the beginning that were quite overtly sexual that I wasn’t a huge fan of but overall I really enjoyed the plot and how it ended.
The plot was a really fun concept and I always like to read point of views where the character goes through certain culture shocks if they go to another country or experience a different lifestyle. We definitely see that between the characters as they grow and learn more about themselves and each other. It always adds an interesting thing to the mix when you bring in real life issues like poverty, mental health and sexuality.
Although it was a little shorter and not as well executed as The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang definitely wrote another amazing story and I’d highly recommend it for anyone looking for a quick romance read. It was really cute and some scenes were hilarious with great banter. I especially loved the cameos of Stella and Michael but I really wish I could read Vietnamese so that I could fully understand everything that was said.
Overall a great read, I’m looking forward to reading more from Helen Hoang!
Until next time,