This is the original novel for the movie trilogy, I Love You If You Were Man. This story revolves around Mai Ding, a cute and goofy boy-next-door and An Ziyan, the cool and aloof heartthrob whom everyone can’t help love yet fear. It all began with a misunderstanding – Mai Ding was bribed by his college roommate to find out An Ziyan’s sexual orientation and An Ziyan had played a prank on Mai Ding in a rare moment of amusement, leading Mai Ding to believe he is bisexual even though he is straight. Mai Ding had little friends since young and wanted to ‘make his life more interesting’ by knowing people of ‘diverse background’ (i.e. An Ziyan) so he would have a cool story to tell his grandchildren in the future. And hence, a friendship which turned into more started to form between the two most unlikely characters.
[Warning: This book is about a gay relationship and there might be explicit scenes in it so read only if you are comfortable.]
I first knew of this when I watched the first movie of this trilogy – Like Love. From then, I realised that the movie was based on the novel and since I couldn’t wait another year for the third installation, I decided to read the novel to find out what happens. The second installation (theatrical version) has just been released on 25th September. I haven’t watched as I’m waiting for the full version. (Update: It seems that the third movie was cancelled.) The novel is made up of 9 volumes which consist of about 12 chapters each. It was a light lovely read with not much angst. I finished reading in about 4 days.
What I liked about this is that this novel can be slowly read over a long period of time. There are not many cliffhangers chapters so there won’t be an active urge to finish it all in one go. Well, unless you are like me and can’t help from being drowned in sweetness. The novel follows the two main characters from their first meeting to their eventual marriage. (Yes, I just spoilt it, they are gonna have a happy ending and get married!)
The funny moments definitely stand out in this novel. There are large doses of it and I must add, I had actually laughed aloud more than a few times when I read the novel. There are also many swoon-worthy and sweet moments that leave me wishing I was in love haha. In terms of proper angst, I think there was only one part. I had expected that plot arc and I didn’t thought I would care much since this was just a ‘silly read’ but when I read that part, I cried. A lot. I had invested all my feelings into this story unknowingly. And that’s why I love this story, I’m totally absorbed. I can feel the characters right beside me.
This story doesn’t lack the cliche plotlines but the author had written them all so well, I love it. This would perfectly fit what I would describe a ‘trashy romance novel indulgence’. It is so lame and impossible in real life but I continue to swoon over it and can’t help savour every bit of it. Perhaps it helped that I had watched the movie first so it was so much easier to read the novel because I can imagine the scenes in my head. Honestly, I don’t even know which scenes were in the original movie and which were not any more because my imagination has mixed up with my memory. I remember seeing scenes that weren’t filmed haha.
Character intro: Mai Ding
Mai Ding is a typical, silly, cute and innocent boy-next-door which most people would identify with. He’s extremely easy going and full of sunshine. The best thing about him is that he is very simple, straightforward, sincere and he wears his heart on his sleeves. He doesn’t try to manipulate or whatsoever. He’s very easy to relate to in the sense that you understand his motives very easily. And you would want the best for him because you feel him.
Character intro: An Ziyan
I’m completely in love with him. He’s cold and cruel and bossy but his actions can melt one’s heart. I can completely understand why everyone loves him and wants to be loved by him. While An Ziyan might seem stingy with love as compared to Mai Ding who shows his love openly, An Ziyan’s love is showed through the sacrifices he makes without Mai Ding’s knowledge – which makes it more swoon-worthy, especially to me. He might bully Mai Ding but he’s also the one that protects Mai Ding the most. He’s a very typical bully, rich male lead but somehow, I’m completely sold. (I’m not sure if it’s because the novel is written very well or if Korn Kong Chuinan, the actor that portrayed An Ziyan, did an exceptional job. I think both factors played a part.)
I would recommend watching the movie first before reading the novel because I think it would help you fall in love with the characters more! (Especially An Ziyan, he’s so yummy!!! To be honest, I don’t find him handsome at first glance but over the 15 episodes I watched, I found him so charismatic and I’m in love. Fun fact: he looks like Zhang Han from a certain angle.) But watching the movie first might ‘taint’ the image of the characters. I cannot imagine Mai Ding and An Ziyan as different people now that I have seen Huang Leeger and Korn Kong Chuinan acting as them. It’s not a big issue though – even the director of the film, 22 year old Chen Peng, shared that these 2 actors were the first people that came into mind when he first took on this project.
Don’t expect too much from the movie though. The quality is mediocre at best. The filming for the first few episodes was pretty amateur and seemed like a trashy wannabe film produced by China’s university students (believe me, I have watched enough of them – no idea what I was thinking) rather than a proper movie that is screened. But ignore the poor editing and gimmicks and just focus on the characters, relationships and the surroundings. It helps a lot when reading the story – it makes everything feel more lifelike. The chemistry between the actors is great too – they are great friends in real life. The first part of the movie was released in 2014 and the theatrical version of the 2nd part was released recently on 25 Sep this year. The third part will be released on 25 Sep 2016.
Recommended: If you are looking for something light and happy and funny and romantic to read. Or just a new character to fall head over heels with. (Last exclamation: I love An Ziyan!! Hahaha.) Watch the film as well for maximum feels. Plus points since english subs and translations are available!
Also, check out my updated Novels List! I’m also reading another similar themed novel which is also adapted into a web drama – Counter Attack – currently.
Last but not least, here are the links for the English translation on Wattpad. It’s a bit messy and you will need a wattpad account but translations are faster.