Contemporary (Teen), Romance (Teen)

Review: Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi – RANT TIME

A contemporary novel about feeling lost, finding love, and finding yourself

Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This blog contains affiliate links. I make a small commission when you decide to buy books via the Amazon or Book Depository purchase links available in the book review's post.

I wasn’t expecting to have another rant review up so soon after The Bookweaver’s Daughter. I definitely wasn’t expecting it with this novel, since I loved Emergency Contact. But I guess it’s just my luck. I buddy-read this book with my cousin. This book will be counting towards ARC August, hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat and for Trope-ical Readathon, hosted by Jenny @ Jenny’s Review BlogFor Trope-ical Readathon, this fulfilled my “book you previously DNF’d” prompt!

Permanent Record book cover

Permanent Record

by Mary H.K. Choi

Published August 3, 2019 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 1534445978

Data from Goodreads

After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out…

My Review: What A Boring Read

Rep: Pakistani rep, Korean rep, mental health rep (anxiety)

Everything I loved about Emergency Contact was missing in this novel. And if it wasn’t for my cousin, I would probably have DNF’d it.

My main issue lies with the characters in this book, chiefly our main character Pablo. His personality was just so off-putting. He’s always coming up with these quips that I guess the author thought was funny? But they’re not. Nobody in their 20s talks like that – and if they do, well, they wouldn’t be someone I would want to know. Pablo is obnoxious, shrouded in self-pity, and he speaks in monologues that bored me to tears.

And that takes me to the pacing and writing style: I found it annoying to sift through useless and mundane detail to get to the good stuff. Granted, there are moments when the author is articulate on her views about being someone of mixed heritage, what it’s like to not know your purpose in life. But these deeper musings were just touched on briefly.

I also didn’t appreciate the constant mentions of how great New York is. Great, you like the place. Can we move on? Because I don’t need to spend the rest of the book reading details about a place that doesn’t really matter to me.

The plot itself was an issue for me… because there really wasn’t one. The story revolves around Pablo making excuses for his life, and staying in this cloud of self-pity – and he stays there for 80% of the book. For the entirety of the novel, I was in a state of frustration over Pablo and the choices he was making. (Click to reveal spoiler) If you knew the university was going to be too expensive, why did you go in the first place? And if you still wanted to go, why would you not have a plan for what you want to do? Why would you get multiple credit cards and max them all out? If you have enough knowledge about credit limits on a Black Amex, surely you know how debt works?! I could go on and on … but I won’t.

The author tries to use mental health to excuse Pablo’s behaviour. And I get it! I have anxiety myself, and there are days when I really want to avoid everything that induces that anxiety. I wish the author had shown Pablo slowly recognizing these toxic behaviours and using proper coping strategies to deal with it. Instead, we are given a romance.

The romance is a joke. It’s basically just insta-love between Pablo and Lee, and I honestly didn’t feel any chemistry between them. Also Lee has no personality so I didn’t really care about her.

The ending was just the cherry on top of this disappointment cake. Pablo miraculously “gets his shit together”. At this point, I didn’t care. I just wanted the story to be over.

I genuinely wanted to love this story so much. But from the first chapter to the end, I could find nothing redeeming about this book. I’m giving it 2 stars for the rep.

Vee Reading signature


5 thoughts on “Review: Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi – RANT TIME

  1. Omg Nooooo, I was SO excited for this! You’re not the first book blogger to mention her disappointments about this book. It’s such a bummer because I read the synopsis of both Emergency Contact and Permanent Record and was really interested in it, plus the cover is gorgeous.

    I have just received the book today so I haven’t read it yet.

    1. I would definitely recommend Emergency Contact but Permanent Record was an infuriating read. Hopefully you enjoy it more than I did!

  2. Yeah I didn’t like Emergency Contact either, it was very meh for me but lots of people loved it and are apparently liking this one too. Idk, this author just isn’t for me. Also I clicked on the spoiler and yeah that’s so freaking idiotic to do oof.

    1. This book had a lot of moments where I wanted to sympathize with the MC but I also wanted to give him a solid thappad because I have no patience for selfishness and irresponsibility to this level.

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