This is my second K-pop book this week (writing this one on December 3rd), the first one being Shine by Jessica Jung. I still think it is funny that two books about the same theme were released at the same time. And I feel kind of sad because I am sure Shine will get more attention due to being by Jessica Jung.
This book is about Korean-American Candace. Who loves singing, who loves K-pop, but whose mom isn’t happy with that and let’s her play viola (she is terrible at that btw). But she gets a chance when there is a competition nearby. I loved her audition, though I had a snort at her dance performance. Then again, if someone asked me to do something I am not good at I would probably also do as Candace, just do something. Improvise. 😛 And from that moment her life changes, though I was delighted that it wasn’t just a done deal. She first talked about it with the president herself, then there are countless of talks between lawyers, her mom and dad, the director. It took lots of planning and convincing. I was kind of worried she could just go. This makes it more believable.
She has 4 months to train. That is not a lot, especially since she just CANNOT dance. But she works hard, trains hard, and tries her best. She tries some extra things to make her performance better, which at times I found a tad rude (for her unnies/team members) but on the other hand, you got to do something. I loved Candace and how she worked hard, how she tried to make friends, how she worked to get her Korean up, how sassy she was. She was a great MC. I also loved seeing her relationship with her umma and see that improve as she learns more about Korea.
We also have Candace Harabuji (though it can also be harabuji no clue why it was one way or the other throughout the book) who is very sick. I loved how, despite not seeing him that much, she has this fantastic bond with him. I loved how sweet she was when she had the chance to visit him. I loved how her Harabuji tried to keep up with K-pop and interest him in the things that his granddaughter loves.
I loved reading how things go at this place. We read about hours of training, Korean language classes, more training, barely any sleeping, barely any food (and only a select few things), weighing, more dancing, punishments, sabotage, and more. While I know things, and I also read Shine, I am still very shocked by all that goes on in this place. I just want to grab all the girls and feed them food and have them sleep longer than 2-4 hours a day.
Helena was just ridiculous. Never liked the girl and didn’t like how she went from hot to cold constantly.
Though there was one thing. The romance? Could be cut entirely and I think it would have been better. It is just barely there, but it feels out of place. Candace was so OMG I will not date, hahaha, who will I even date, but when she gets her first glimpses of some boys in the morning she immediately falls for one. The moments are very sparse, she does think about him sometimes, but barely. Then there is One-J. I would have rather seen the romance not be around and just focus on the training/debuting/etc.. Plus, this is the second book about K-pop in a week, and frankly I am surprised both have romance despite the strict rules that K-pop has.
The ending? Mmm, that is why I am just giving this one 4.5 stars. Up till the end, even with the barely there but still noticeable romance, I was planning on rating the book 5 stars. But then the ending happened and I just wanted to throw my book against a very hard wall. It just didn’t make sense, and it felt weirdly open/inconclusive. As if there was more to be planned but it got scrapped. A shame. Yes, I am happy with the message, but it just felt out of place in my eyes.
But in overall I had plenty of fun reading this book and I am happy I read it. I would recommend it if you love K-pop or if you like books about working hard to become famous and having a big dream.