Cover Image: Love & Resistance

Love & Resistance

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was requested when I first found out about NetGalley and I had requested so many ARCs that I could not get to all of them before they were archived. I really wanted to get to this one, as it seemed interesting.  If I can find this somewhere for a reasonable price, I will try to get it! I am giving this book three stars, as I don't want to give it a good or bad rating, since I did not get to it.
Was this review helpful?
Love and Resistance by Kara H.L. Chen was such a cute and enjoyable read! I really liked that this book had good pacing and it never felt like a scene was dragging. I love the whole idea of a secret society of nerds! I had never read anything with that concept, so it was nice to read something a little different and nonfamiliar. Would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting a light and fluffy YA romance!
Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.
Was this review helpful?
This was fun, enjoyable and quick!

The concept is great and it is executed well. It was everything I'm expecting in a teen novel.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book and the characters were very dynamic. The book covered some serious topics of racism and bullying, and I really appreciated the perspective of everyone having individual, complex circumstances. Olivia, the main character, underwent a lot of positive development as she opened herself up to new people and mindsets. Her interest in history and government was so cool. Overall, this was a great story with a lot of ups and downs and some really cute romance. 

Thank you Netgalley and publishers for the eARC!
Was this review helpful?
Special thanks to Rylee from SparkPoint Studio and the publisher for providing a digital ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars rounded up!

TL;DR: Love & Resistance is a YA contemporary that has an intriguing premise and delivers on it too. The story covers some tough topics such as bullying, racism/xenophobia, and the toxicity of social media culture. Although it was at times heartbreaking and emotionally angsty, it was also powerfully hopeful and I appreciated the approach the author took to handling the tough situations that Olivia and her group of friends find themselves in. I'm sure many readers will be able to relate to this story and the experiences of these high schoolers. This was a great debut by Chen and I'm looking forward to seeing what the author puts out in the future.

Love & Resistance is set in a small town high school and is a powerful coming-of-age story about friendship, and standing up for yourself and others without compromising your integrity. This book sent me on a rollercoaster of emotions from anger, frustration and sadness to hope. We follow Olivia, an Asian-American high schooler who keeps to the fringes, strives to be invisible and passes her days noticed by as few people as possible. She has heartbreaking, although not uncommon, experiences enduring extreme bullying in her previous schools and in this new one, she simply wants to remain anonymous until she graduates. Through an unexpected turn of events, that's not how her year ends up going but along the way, she learns what true friendship means and she experiences tremendous personal growth as well.

Olivia is a smart and observant teenager who has a deep love for military tactics, history and politics influenced by her immigrant grandfather and her mother in the military. I loved the way she compared the high school popularity hierarchy to militant governments and compared historical military manoeuvres to their own resistance tactics. Maybe that doesn't sound like the most appealing subject to readers but the author doesn't linger, the story is well paced and I appreciated the uniqueness of the comparison in a YA contemporary; plus, it's not an inaccurate comparison! What I really admired was the growth of Olivia's character and how she has to overcome her own biases and judgement of others and learn how what you see on the surface or what people project to the public is not always the full story. Obviously, this doesn't excuse bullying and other nasty acts but standing up for yourself and resisting bullies does not mean they should be treated in the same demeaning and nasty way they treat others. I fully agree—even if it might mean that they don't immediately get the comeuppance you feel is warranted by their wrongdoings, and I loved how Olivia confronted her own actions and took accountability. While it did frustrate me, I respected that the author didn't make the bullies suddenly remorseful because that's not the reality for many.

The other thing I really loved about this book is the friendships. This self-proclaimed nerd group that acted as an "underground network" that worked to subvert the powerful group of populars at school was like a found family. Their friendship gave them space to be themselves and they were so supportive of each other while still encouraging one another to consider different perspectives and to always choose kindness to not stoop as low as their "oppressors". This was the first time Olivia had been surrounded by a steady group of friends and it was great to see her slowly open up and accept their friendship, albeit begrudgingly at first. There's also a very sweet romance between Olivia and Griff, and another couple in the friend group and it was SO ADORABLE—ah, those butterfly feels. 🥰

Overall, this was a really enjoyable YA contemporary and I'm glad that it was put on my radar!
Was this review helpful?
Enough is enough for one Taiwanese-American teen who goes up against her school's VIPs - with the help of some new friends. Olivia Chang, daughter of a military mom, is at her fourth school in seven years; she's created rules for survival: stay anonymous. Embrace isolationism. Soon enough, she'll be out of this little Ohio town and off to college, and leave this toxic mess behind. But she ends up on the In Crowd's radar when she hears Mean Girl leader Mitzi Clarke make a racist comment about how certain students skew test results; Livvy speaks up, and war is declared, taking place on the social media battlefields that Mitzi and her minions dominate. Until NerdNet comes to the rescue: a quietly operating group of students who use their know-how to defend the bullied, they take up Livvy's cause and bring her into the group. Empowered by their friendship, Livvy and NerdNet work together to upend the system: but Livvy may push too hard, go too far. Taking on the cult of social media and casual racism, Love & Resistance is reading teen readers will dive into. Livvy is a complicated heroine who risks becoming the type of bully she's pushing back against, and her fellow NerdNet members have fully realized backstories, making them as realistic and likable as our heroine. The pace moves quickly and the book is compulsively readable, with much food for thought and discussion.
Was this review helpful?
I should have reviewed this as soon as I finished it, because now I'm sick and can't remember anything. This was ok? A cute YA and I did really like the characters. I especially appreciated the main characters love of war history. Ha. That said, the end was lacking for me. I wanted more. I felt like they deserved more. 

Thank you for the opportunity to read and review!
Was this review helpful?
This was a fun romp down memory lane, but it left a lot to be desired for by way of real character development that wasn't completely situationally framed. FMC's relationship with her mother is basically nonexistent, and for a high school student, she has a lot of free reign.

I enjoyed the idea of a secret nerd society - and wish I had one when I was in school! But I feel like this missed the mark on discussing why bullying, especially racist bullying, is bad.
Was this review helpful?
love & revolution

“it wasn’t only in america. and it wasn’t just this time period. in other places, throughout history, people of certain races or nationalities or religions couldn’t access particular jobs or positions of power. privileged people sat in their comfortable lives and didn’t feel the need to think of others. 
until the others made themselves heard.”

this book meant a lot to me. growing up, i was always the kid that wouldn’t let people pick on me. i was always the winner of verbal sparring matches, and i wasn’t afraid to make the people picking on me feel stupid for even trying. i’ve always had a strong sense of justice, and maybe it’s the tism, but i hated seeing people being picked on, especially when it was for something that they couldn’t change. double if it was just to inflate their own ego or sense of self-importance. i was never one to keep my head down and just let it happen, but sometimes it felt like i was the only one. 

we open this book meeting our main character, olivia chang. she has one rule when it comes to dealing with people in her school: don’t. keep your head down, don’t make waves, be invisible. but she wasn’t always this way. however, bad experiences and her moving around a lot due to her mom’s job with the military wasn’t really conducive to making and keeping friends anyways. 

olivia is fine to keep her isolationist policies until, as per usual, a partner project is assigned in her french class. while olivia wasn’t hoping for this, it’s fine. it’s whatever. it’s cool, she guesses. she’s partnered up with this guy, griff, who seems to be really nice. he’s conversational, sweet, and kinda cute. not the worst partner she could’ve ended up with. 

this leads her to meeting the nerd net. it’s basically just a group of griff’s friends. they each have their own specialties, which comes in handy for what they try to do: help the little guy. 

as in every school, there’s always the popular crowd. in this school, there’s mitzi. the daughter of a once-famous actress, her and her lackeys seem to rule the school. not through respect, but through fear. the nerd net, however, tries to combat this with subtle behind the scenes maneuvering in hopes of maybe changing the way things are. 

i really liked griff’s character. he was a bit mysterious at the beginning, but very fun in a nerdy peter-parker-esque way. a bit goofy, teasing, and just super adorable in his interactions with olivia, or livvy, as he calls her. he has his own motivations for combating the bullying that happens in their high school, which i won’t spoil, but it’s something that really impacted his character. i knew from the beginning that livvy and griff were going to be more than friends. it’s like my sixth sense. but i enjoyed every step along the way. 

one of the biggest things that i liked was the fact that livvy learns that not every person is as they seem. they all have these internal struggles that we would never know about unless they tell or show us. but i also love how the overall message is that, yeah, we all have our own crap to deal with, but it doesn’t excuse our actions. it doesn’t mean that we can be a crappy person because of it. i think that’s something we should all learn to a degree. 

the rest of the nerd net was also amazing. i loved each of them so, so much. i wish we got to see more of will and peter’s backstories, though. i feel like they weren’t nearly as developed as livvy, griff, and heidi. also HEIDI. i love her so much she’s amazing and ill never stop wanting to be her with her amazing hacking skills. she’s everything i wanted to grow up to be.
Was this review helpful?
Olivia is the new girl - again - who accidentally gain notoriety at her new school  when Olivia stands up against a racist comment made by a popular girl, Mitzi. 

Olivia joins a group who is going to take down Mitzi and restore the peace at their school. In the group, Olivia finally starts to make friends.
Was this review helpful?
My Thoughts:
When I was in high school, my parents moved to Hawaiʻi island and set up a mini ranch in Volcano. I was in charge of the chickens or rather retired hens. What I learned from these old biddies (or birdies) is that the pecking order is part of the social culture of the flock. If I separated the low hen on the pecking order, the biddies already had the next lowest hen in mind. More shockingly, if I put another hen in isolation with the lowest hen, the lowest hen gleefully would become the top hen and do the same thing that was done to her. What I learned from these observations in the hendom is that social justice is antithetical to pecking order. However, these are hens, not humans. I still have hope for humans. However, social justice and equity in education has been a lifelong endeavor for me and I am entering my 31st year in education. In my observations in the middle school culture, I have also seen that how you react to the bully is also complex because they may be bullied at home, or they may be hurting too, so a hard stance on "not in my classroom," but also a hard stance on no to the behavior, not no to the person is necessary so that all middle schoolers can continue to fully form into 3 dimensional whole humans with their identities and self worth intact. 

This book by Kara H.L. Chen comes pretty close to understanding that weird dynamic of facing bullying without becoming the bully.  If students like this book, another book that you can give them is Queens of New York by E.L. Shen for more of what I call the strong "systems of support" that is seen in Love and Resistance. 

A darker read set in a middle school, students can also be given Jennifer Chan is Not Alone by Hawaiʻi born Korean American author Tae Keller. And yes, the reason I revealed that Tae Keller is from Hawaiʻi is that even in a minority majority school system like Hawaiʻi, bullying still happens. This story is really about the cost of being different, and how the "be invisible" strategy that Olivia uses in Love and Resistance does not work.  I realize that my three books I talked about in this post are all from Asian American authors who write about Asian American characters, but I think that is only as purposeful as the books I choose to read. 

From the Publisher:

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Chang is at her fourth school in seven years. Her self-imposed solitude is lonely but safe. At Plainstown High, however, Olivia’s usual plan of anonymity fails when infamous it-girl Mitzi Clarke makes a pointed racist comment in class. Tired of ignoring things just to survive, Olivia defends herself.  

And that is the end of her invisible life. 

Soon, Olivia joins forces with the Nerd Net: a secret society that's been thwarting Mitzi’s reign of terror for months. Together, they plan to unite the masses and create true change at school.

But in order to succeed, Olivia must do something even more terrifying than lead a movement: trust other people. She might even make true friends along the way . . . if Mitzi doesn’t destroy her first. 

Publication Information
Author: Kara H.L. Chen

Publisher:  Quill Tree Books (July 4, 2023)
Was this review helpful?
Olivia Chang’s method for staying invisible as the new Asian girl at several high schools has worked out for her. It’s lonely, but safe, and she’s pretty sure that is better.

What a unique book! Sometimes, the underdogs might get a chance to win, and this is their story. Olivia just can’t keep her mouth shut anymore when the most popular girl in her newest high school makes a racist comment blaming the Asian students for her own less-than-stellar grades. While Olivia initially regrets not holding on to her invisibility, she soon meets the secret Nerd Net, where she’ll find friends and maybe even love.

Besides just teen angst and drama, the story really makes use of Olivia’s interest in government and military strategy and structure. As the Nerd Net made plans of how to "even the playing field" at Plainstown High, Olivia weighed it all against her previous experiences, the lessons her grandfather and mother had taught about navigating the world, and what she had learned through her interest in history and governments.

While not necessarily the expected teen contemplations, Olivia’s assessments and reactions made the book so enjoyable and overall uplifting. The book earned 4 out of 5 stars and would be easy to recommend to any reader who enjoys contemporary YA fiction.
Was this review helpful?
Love & Resistance is about a teen girl that is often moving from school to school. She has developed rules for herself around staying invisible and just trying to make it through her time. This year though, there is another classmate that is entitled, popular, and racist. When they have a run in and Olivia speaks up, the floodgates open and she is subject to a lot of bullying and nastiness from this girl, Mitzi, and her group of friends. The plot follows as Olivia makes friends with the Nerd Net, a group of outcasts that have banded together to try to make things better for others experiencing Mitzi's hatred and popularity. 

This was a fun book. A secret group of students banding together for the greater good. It was such a lovely read. I enjoyed the overall plot a good deal but found some holes that I think would have added to the overall theme. I really wanted Mitzi to have her ah-ha moment and that never comes, if not that, I wanted more depth to come out of her background and really having her justify how she is acting. That never came full circle, Mitzi is who she is racism and all, and she is never really punished for her actions. 

I liked the other characters though, I am not sure that this needed the romance element, but it was cute. Olivia is smart and determined and her relationship with her family and heritage is a strong one that I really appreciated seeing throughout the book. I especially liked the diverse cast of characters along with her. Griff was interesting, and I figured out his deal long before it came out in the book, I am not sure how much it adds but I really like the friendship that he and Olivia have and how they become closer through the plot and emotions they feel around helping others. 

The resistance part was entertaining, albeit a little predictable and kind of one-note, but in the end I laughed out loud a good deal while reading and enjoyed this read coinciding with the July 4th holiday weekend. If you are looking for a cute, YA romance with some high school politics, this might be a good fit for you. This book does have elements of bullying, racism, and cyber-bullying.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this. From the start, you could tell this was going to be a young adult, high school drama filled story. This story focuses on the main character, Olivia, who is the new girl, the loner, and the quiet one. She soon finds herself facing the popular Mitzi and under attack from her in some of the worst ways. Never fear, Nerd Net (NN) to the rescue. I absolutely loved NN and all the characters within it. Olivia soon realises having good friends can help you conquer anything and with the NN they decide to change the school environment for the better while teaching Mitzi a lesson. A beautiful read. Highlighting what a lot of us have been through... Bullying. But also the importance of friends. A well-deserved four stars from me.
Was this review helpful?
DNF @ 30%

nothing against the author or the book itself, i am just not the audience for this book. this is very much on the younger side of YA, borderline middle school if not for the swearing, and i could see myself enjoying this if i were five years younger than i am. i think that victims of bullying, especially racial bullying, would find this story empowering, but the very simplified, black-and-white conflict between olivia + the nerd net and mitzi was jut supremely boring to me.

thank you to netgalley and harpercollins for an eARC of this book, all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This title had a lot of buzzwords for me as I like to pick up books that might address very current issues such as racism.  I also liked that this book really tackled Olivia finding her own niche and come out of her anonymous shell.  I can understand her original mindset to not draw any attention towards herself and wanting to disappear in the crowd, but it was really nice to see her mature and find herself.  The relationships that she builds along the way were really nice to see and felt authentic to me.  The writing style flowed well and it was a quick read but still had some impact. Please keep in mind that there are definite trigger warnings for bullying and racist language.
Was this review helpful?
Olivia Chang wants to be invisible. Having moved around a lot, Olivia knows what it's like to have been bullied. She has learned, the hard way, that the only method of survival is to keep your head down, don't make waves, and get through the day-to-day nonsense of school until you can escape for good. Her new school, Plainstown High, seems no different than any other. Mitzi and her sidekick Adeline run the school, and nobody dares to challenge that. When a racist comment is made, however, Olivia takes a stand and ends up putting a target on her back. Luckily, an underground group of friends known as the Nerd Net takes her under their wing, and soon plans are being made to take down the social hierarchy. But how far are they willing to go, and at what cost does true change happen?

I enjoyed this YA resistance romance. The characters were diverse, and the author didn't resort to stereotypes (in line with the theme of the book). I'm still not sure about the difference between resistance and revolution, but the message about everyone (even bullies) dealing with issues that nobody knows about is on point. Ultimately, it's a great story about learning to trust others after years of living in fear.

Recommended for students in gr. 8-12. Thanks to NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book was SO GOOD. The author flawlessly tackled so many important issues, such as racism, bullying, and many others. I really loved Olivia's character growth and her feelings were really relatable, especially as someone whose also experienced loneliness in school.

I have nothing but praise for this wonderful book.
Was this review helpful?
this was a pretty fast and straightforward book. it was also a very quick read which i really liked ! though i think it moved a bit too fast in some areas, i overall enjoyed the pace very much.

i loved the relationship building between the characters !! their chemistry was my absolute favorite. it was wholesome and cute to see these teens come together under such negative circumstances and even better seeing them help get our protagonist out of her isolation !

and while i love the overall message of standing up for youself and others in the face of discrimination/bullying... the actual outcome was a little too lenient for me. i understand wanting to spread a message of being the bigger person in certain situations and being the kindness you want to see in the world but... this just felt like letting the bully off too easy for all the hate and racism she spread. the message also got a bit preachy when talking ahout having sympathy for a bully because "you never know what's going on in their life," which i agree with ! but in this instance, there was just some really disgusting acts done that really should have not been handled with this much kindness.

so i guess you can say this has a somewhat realistic ending but i truly went into this expecting a real revolution against the bullies ! some disney original final confrontation uprising scene where people get to give the bully what she deserves for being so nasty all those years. an "i'm radio rebel" stand or something lol. (sorry yall, this is ya, therefore the only examples i could come up with are these lol)

and thought i expected something different, i did enjoy the ending and what it promised. i feel the same for the whole book ! there's a lot to like about it, truly !! but that certain point i talked about kept it from getting a higher rating.

and as i had stated, i loved the character's relationships with one another so i'll still be keeping an eye out for other releases from the author ! i'm excited to see what else she drops !!
Was this review helpful?
I am a firm believer that bullies should be taken down. They make life such a living hell for those who can't fight back, so when someone finally does stand up to them, I'm all for it. In Love & Resistance, I was Team Olivia all the way.

In this book, Olivia is just trying to exist as quietly as possible at her school in Plainstown. She's used to being invisible and that's how she likes it. Safer that way. But when she decides to say something to the school mean girl, her invisibility is shattered and school life brings a ton of surprises, both good and very, very bad.

Okay so I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed reading it and think the subject matter is very relatable. School bullying is at an all-time high, leaving so many kids vulnerable and miserable. Social media just makes everything so much worse and the author used that in the book. Mitzi, who is the main bully, uses social media as her tool of choice and man is she good at it. So much so that the entire school is terrified of her. Olivia and her band of new friends use social media themselves to counter attack and the back and forth is really interesting to read. I grew up in the 80s so we just had our mouths and sometimes fists to settle beefs and end rumors. Social media is a different animal, causing harm on such a massive scale it's a wonder anyone does anything even remotely out of place.

I think the biggest problem I had with this book is its main message. I am not one for giving racists grace or trying to appeal to their humanity. Never have and never will. There is nothing about them that will make me feel empathetic towards them. I wanted Olivia and her friends to deal with Mitzi in a much harsher way and I felt like they were being too easy on her. I get it, the message of being the bigger person is one that goes a long way and can be effective. EXCEPT when dealing with racists, in my opinion. 

The book started to get a bit too preachy towards the end and it felt a little much and just didn't appeal to me. However, I think a lot of readers will like it, especially those who think Olivia's way of dealing with her bully is more to their liking.
Was this review helpful?