The book is really witty and humorous too. And so well written - Guo writes the entire thing from Z's point of view, in the kind of English a Chinese speaking ESL student would use, which is just a masterly and enviable act of writing. As Z learns more English, the English language in the book becomes better (never perfect). (reading some reviews - some found this conceit annoying).
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I would not call myself a fan of romance novels; I can't remember the last time I read one. This book is definitely not a romance novel, but it is most definitely a love story. A very, very unusual love story. That is part of what kept this book going, the incredibly unique relationship between the narrator Z an d her older lover, never named, but always called "you." Without getting into too many spoiler-y details, just know going in that the two of them bring to the table much strangeness and unlikability. Unlikable characters tend to bug me in books, but there was something about this pair of star-crossed lovers that turned this book into a salty, savory treat. That is also all due to Guo, who masterfully created and built these two characters bit by bit, like assembling two Frankenstein's monsters and letting them loose upon one another. By the end, you may not personally like either of them (they are porcupines) but I *think* you will understand them. I read two opposing Guardian reviews on this novel: Ursula LeGuin liked it, the other reviewer didn't get it. I'm on Ursula LeGuin's side here.