Bite Me, Royce Taslim

Disney-Hyperion. May 2024. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368095358.
Gr 9 Up–Agnes Chan attends an international school in Kuala Lumpur. A rising track star who is waiting to finalize a college recruitment deal in America, she has a clear path to the future. A scholarship will secure her dreams of making it big and take the weight off her family’s uncertain finances. Agnes’s only obstacle is her rival and track team cocaptain, Royce Taslim. Things come as easy to him as they do to his wealthy family. Everything changes when Agnes has an accident that destroys her running career. While recovering, she spies on Royce and uncovers his secret life as a stand-up comedian. Without intending to, she becomes part of that world. As she works her way up the amateur comedy circuit, she realizes Royce is not the only one with a hidden agenda. Jumping through unforeseen hoops, Agnes grows in ways she never anticipated. Ho creates a vivid picture of teenage life in Kuala Lumpur, her own hometown. The universal high school angst that Agnes feels as she struggles with friendships, flirtations, and home life is portrayed through well-developed, diverse characters. Though the trope of rivals-to-lovers is nothing new, it serves its purpose and gives readers a satisfying romance.
VERDICT A sweet, unique rom-com that is recommended for high school libraries.

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