Maknae’s Journey: When a Snail Falls in Love

I’ve found that Chinese dramas are extremely binge-able, especially if I deliberately choose ones with a low episode count. (Total side eye to Legend of Fuyao and Legend of Fei — darn you for being so interesting and SO LOOOONG!) I’ve had When A Snail Falls in Love on my to-watch list for a while, so last week I gave it a spin. And what a spin it was! Come see what I thought of this crime drama classic. 

The Plot

From our friends at

“Detective Ji Bai has to train a new recruit, the criminal profiler Xu Xu. Although she is great at determining one’s thoughts, she doesn’t know how to interact well with people.

But that’s not the reason why Ji Bai intends to fire her. She’s very talented in the art of profiling, yet lacks in physical ability, running as slowly as a snail. Still, impressed by each other’s abilities, the teacher-student pair slowly fall in love in the midst of their investigations.

I have to admit that I didn’t read the plot description right. I really thought that Snail was going to be focused on the relationship between Xu Xu and Ji Bai. Instead, I was blown away by the opening scenes where Ji Bai takes down several gangsters on a train as he travels through Burma. I love me a good fight scene, so I kept watching. 

Ji Bai is everything I would want a veteran detective to be — confident, intelligent, and capable. He’s got heroic good looks, and keeps his emotions to himself. Bad guys don’t stand a chance, and his reluctance to take on a new trainee because she would slow him down makes sense without being offensive. 

On the other hand, Xu Xu is the epitome of quiet calm. Her eyes seem to have incredible depth, and she’s very still as she observes everything around her. Her insights are startlingly accurate, and make sense once she explains them. She’s very believable as a highly recommended criminal profiler fresh out of college. 

The Book vs The Drama

On Kmuse’s suggestion, I read the book after I watched the drama, and I was impressed with both. The drama kept most of the major plot points from the first 2/3rds of the book, but was rewritten to be tighter and more complex. Tying the two central cases together was a stroke of genius, as was changing the character of Yao Meng. 

The drama was the epitome of an excellent crime drama — great action, characters with clear motivations, and just the right amount of suspense. It was focused on solving the mysteries, and Ji Bai and Xu Xu’s relationship was more of a subtle undertone with a delightful payoff at the end. 

On the other hand, the book is very focused on their relationship, which starts earlier and is more well developed. I got a better insight into what was going on in Ji Bai’s head, and his attraction to Xu Xu was more apparent. There’s more crime for them to solve, and Yao Meng has about the roughest life a book character could have. I was impressed that she’d survived as long as she had! 

Would I Recommend?

When I talk to people about Love O2O, they tend to like both the series AND the movie. I could say the same for When A Snail Falls in Love. The drama is tight and focused and gives a lot of power to the female characters — I enjoyed watching the entire thing and wholeheartedly recommend it. The book dives deeper into the romantic relationship, highlighting and adding more to it than the drama did, and was just as satisfying. It was a solid read, and I’m glad I didn’t pass it up. 

So, drama fans, have you watched When a Snail Falls in Love? Would you read the book? And do you think the drama was a worthy stop on my journey?

Until the next train heist, I remain —

Karie the Maknae

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

2 thoughts on “Maknae’s Journey: When a Snail Falls in Love

  1. I loved the series! The ending felt a bit odd, but overall it was a fun ride. I loved her drawings and wished there was a book of them. Can we get a manga of Lion and Snail? Where did you get a copy of the translated book? I would love to read it to get a better understanding of the characters.

    • There was a translated copy of the book on Wattpad, but a Google search will bring up several options. And agreed on her drawings! They were adorable and full of emotion. I would totally read that manga.

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