I was looking forward to Mina’s new book, so when she announced that Welcome to Envy Park was available for pre-order, I immediately reserved and ordered a paperback copy directly from her. Once the book became available, she was kind enough to send me a copy right away.
Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:
Moira Vasquez is a doer. A planner. A get-up-and-goer. At twenty-two, she left her hometown to work in Singapore, to satisfy a need to travel as well as give her savings account a boost. Five years later and she’s back in Manila, with a shiny new apartment to her name, but no job, no career, no boyfriend. She meets Ethan Lorenzo, the quiet hunk of an IT consultant on the ninth floor of her condo building, and he’s a welcome distraction during this period of having absolutely nothing going on in her life.
But she has a plan – of course she does – and this is just a short layover on the way to the next country, the next job, the next big thing. Or will she be missing out on something great that’s already there?
The story introduces us to Moira, a mid-twenties lady, who returned to her home country with no job. She buys a condo unit in NV Park as she temporarily enjoys her unemployment phase before looking for another job in a foreign country. There, at NV Park, she meets a number of people that might possibly change her view in life.
The characterization of Moira strikes me as different. Her obsessive-compulsiveness isn’t exactly what I read in other books. While I’m more familiar with people being so neat and organized in their day-to-day activities as their way to show OC-ness, Moira, on the other hand, demonstrates something more serious. Moira takes it to a higher level as she plans out and controls her life the way she wants it to be – and stick to it through and through. It’s also amazing to see that she’s good at analyzing people she encounters. The use of matrices in the book definitely helps in summarizing the minor characters’ personalities, lifestyles, and behaviors.
The book evidently centers on Moira’s life and illustrates in detail what she does during her leisure time. I may not relate to her as we differ in personalities, but it’s quite fun to read about characters having worked abroad. And as Moira meets some of the people in her condo, it’s like I get to have a small glimpse of their lives as well. However, the lack of characterization in the minor characters left me hanging. I was expecting to get some closure about them and their lives, but it doesn’t happen and this disappoints me a bit. I would’ve wanted to find out more about them.
There are times when I get confused with Moira’s actions and thoughts; perhaps it’s due to her self-denial of what Roxie states at one point that could possibly ring some truth in it. Welcome to Envy Park is definitely more than just about looking for jobs. Mina V. Esguerra certainly succeeds in combining a perfect mixture of themes about self-discovery and romance. As a secondary character, Ethan is someone I would want to read more about. His relationship with Moira perfectly portrays that opposite attracts.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book, but not to the extent I expected it to be. I guess I’m more interested in books that focus more on contemporary romance. Either way, this is a light, fun read.