COVER (STORY) GIRL
Author: Chris Mariano
Read Date: September 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
1) She has amnesia.
2) She’s on the run from her father’s creditors.
3) She’s enjoying her last days on earth.
Ever since Jang Min Hee walked into Gio’s small museum, she’s given him one excuse after another about why she’s vacationing at scenic Boracay Island. Rarely has Gio’s neat and organized world been shaken like this. Soon he finds himself scrambling over rocks, hiding in dressing rooms, and dragging her out of bars. But how can Gio tell what’s true from what isn’t? Their worlds are getting unraveled — one story at a time.
So this blog tour made a detour back here, and this time, I’m posting my review of “Cover (Story) Girl”.
It is more difficult for me to review novellas compared to full-length novels because my reading list for the past few years consisted mostly of novel series. I’ve taken a liking to reading about a lot of story details, and I’ve learned to be patient when reading about how character relationships play out. And so when I read novellas, I feel like it operates on a different time frame, and more often than not, I feel like things are rushed, especially when it comes to the development of relationships.
That’s exactly how I felt for most of “Cover (Story) Girl”—that things moved a little too fast for our couple. Considering that Min Hee is from a different country and culture, I felt like Gio should have had a little more of a challenge adjusting to Min Hee, and vice-versa.
I’m not averse to a whirlwind romance in a romance novella, of all things, but because of the character profiles, I expected that Min Hee’s foreign-ness would have played more of a part as a challenge in the relationship than her mysterious circumstances. This would have “slowed” things down a little for them (emotionally, perhaps, more than time-wise), and the development would have felt more natural. But that’s just me. Maybe I’ve been watching too many Korean dramas that I already half-expect there to be a lot of roadblocks in romance plot lines, and for someone to push for extra episodes to prolong the agony if the ratings are high enough.
I did not feel Min Hee’s foreign-ness much, actually. The author has said that because it was difficult to get into Min Hee’s mindset as a foreigner, she wrote the character with a lot of caution, and it looks like this is how that caution became most evident. But, on hindsight, I’d rather have this cautious writing of the character than a forced, unbearably awkward caricature.
I did enjoy reading this story very much despite the above. It was well-written and fun and peppered with a lot of cute moments.
I love that Boracay felt like another character, so much so that the island seems more…real than how some other travel documentaries and blogs describe it. Believe it or not, I haven’t been to Boracay, but how it is described in this novella is probably how I will expect it to be if I finally get the chance to visit. I suppose the love that I can feel Gio has for the place reflects the author’s own love for her hometown; it’s a nice feeling to get from reading a book.
As was already obvious from my author interview, Chris Mariano and I share an interest in Korean entertainment. I appreciated all the references to dramas and music, celebrities and the fan culture. Fellow fans will surely spot all the meta, but for those who aren’t, those references serve to build Min Hee’s world a little more.
I also like that this was written from the guy’s perspective. It’s hard to resist using fan-ish fiction defaults even when writing original stories, so this could just as easily have been a foreign-guy-meets-a-local-girl thing. I’m glad it’s different because man, the climactic scene was worthy of a k-drama, and it wouldn’t have had the same effect otherwise.
My song choice as the book’s theme music/musical score is, of course, by a Korean artist and one of my favorite bands: Nell. People who have been reading this blog for a while now will be familiar with how much I like this band; I’ve used their song for a Scoring the Book post before.
The song is called “Beautiful Stranger”, and it’s sung entirely in English, so I’m not going to link to translations anymore. Enjoy!
I barely know you,
but yet I feel secure when I’m with you.
I don’t even know you,
but yet I feel so strong and bold when I’m with you.
My beautiful stranger.
If you haven’t read “Cover (Story) Girl” yet, you can check out the following links:
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