Review | The Bride Test
Author: Helen Hoang.
Length: 296 pages.
(Second book in The Kiss Quotient trilogy)
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.
When I first read The Kiss Quotient I loved it. I thought is was amazing and I was extremely excited to read the next one. However, I put it off many times. First of all, the premise didn’t really appeal to me. I don’t think I had ever read a book that dealt with an arranged marriage and I really couldn’t wrap my mind around how it would work. Also, the fact that the autistic character in this story was a boy kind of hit close to home, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to separate Khai from my personal experience. However, soon enough I figured out I had absolutely nothing to worry about, because Helen Hoang’s talent at creating these type of characters is insurmountable.
I loved Esme. I thought she was so strong, perseverant, passionate, and intelligent. She is everything I search for in a lead character, and more. Even though I don’t share her culture, I know a thing or two about moving your entire life and having to figure out things as you go. I could completely relate to her story and it filled me with hope. If you’re the type of reader that doesn’t usually take the time to read the acknowledgements and author’s note, please take the time to read the ones on this book. The backstory to this character and story are so inspiring (I even cried).
All of her “drawbacks” were not due to her character. They were things beyond her control: her origin, her education level, her lack of wealth, the language she spoke – things that shouldn’t matter when determining the value of a person (if that can even be done).– From Helen Hoang’s Author’s Note.
Because of these conversations, I was able to give Esme a depth and soul that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I hope that comes out in the reading. Most important, the conversations gave me my mom, the fuller, more authentic version of her, and now I love her even more, respect her even more.– From Helen Hoang’s Author’s Note.
In regards to Khai, I think he was a very well done character. It was really fascinating to read from his perspective and get a little glimpse of his world. The experience was very different to reading from Stella’s point of view (the main character from The Kiss Quotient) because Autism and Aspergers can manifest very differently on boys and girls. Nonetheless, it was really nice to see how being this way is not actually a disability, which many people consider it to be. But, most of all, I loved watching Khai get to know himself better and better, discovering not only how amazing he is, but his worth and ability to care for people so deeply.
“That’s funny. They’re companies, not people.”
“Companies have people.”
“Companies don’t have feelings.”
“If companies have people, and people have feelings, then companies have feelings.”
What I think that disappointed me the most in this book was the ending. For more than half of the story, we were building up to this very important moment and, when it finally came, it just happened. To be honest, I was expecting bit more grandeur or more of a romantic moment between the main characters. It’s not that I didn’t like how it all went down, but the fact that this scene was so public and at the very end of the book made it seem kind of rushed. Nonetheless, it was very adorable and heartwarming.
The Bride Test has the ability to capture anyone and give them a little insight in how difficult it could be to progress as an immigrant, but it demonstrates that it is possible. This definitely was an amazing novel and has nothing to envy from the first book in this series. I am so excited to read Quan’s story in The Heart Principle!