The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2)
By Helen Hoang
Originally Published May 7th, 2019
Dual POV, First Person
The Kiss Quotient was such a cute and enjoyable read that I had high hopes for The Bride Test and, luckily, it did not disappoint!
This sequel was as lighthearted and quirky as its predecessor, but I found that the culture shock of Esme moving to the states from the slums of Ho Chi Minh City added a kind of depth, to an already diverse book, that The Kiss Quotient didn't have. I still, days after finishing the book, am troubled by Esme changing her name when she came to California so that it was more "white". This book was full of tender moments and tense situations, culminating in an engrossing read that starts with you being sympathetic for these characters, and ends with you having such pride for them--it's as if they are your real friends.
I was rooting for Esme and Khai from the start. Their journey to accepting and understanding one another was a difficult one. Esme with her slow adaptation to her new life, and Khai with his autism, leaves a lot of room for misunderstandings and gaps in communication. It takes a long time for Khai to decide on what he wants and while I love that Huang features characters that are on the spectrum in her inclusive works, I found the tricking tactics employed in this book against Khai too underhanded to be appreciated. Esme was an interesting character and had a lot of backstory to understand, but she was always slightly detached. I figured this to be because of the mix of cultures, and while I wanted her to have her happy ending, I never truly felt that her wanting Khai was more than him being an answer to all her burdens. There are a few times she deceives Khai and his family with pretty big things, and their reactions to learning all her truths felt a bit unnatural and staged. Khai was a sweetheart, and since he was happy in the end, so was I!
Overall, The Kiss Quotient remains my favorite, but the cultural depth and sensitivity of each POV made The Bride Test a transformative and enlightening read.