ARC received in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.
If you know me, you know I love KPop. And I was so flipping pumped when I got approved for this book. But then the negative reviews started and I got a little bit apprehensive about it. But I charged ahead and I read this book anyways. Let's just say that the negative reviews are well deserved.
Quick Summary: Grace moves to South Korea to get away from the drama of her family. It's spontaneous and crazy but she can't handle life anymore with her mother and her past. She enrolls in an international boarding school and finds herself immediately taking a liking to her exuberant roommate, Sophie. But Sophie's twin brother is a music star and is cocky beyond belief. He has a right to be though. He's famous, gorgeous and obviously talented.
But Grace moved to Korea to get away from the music industry that her family is so entrenched in and she wants nothing to do with Jason. Being friends with Sophie means that she has to get along with her brother though and soon a grudging alliance forms. Grace realizes, after spending so much time with Jason, that not all is as it seems and not everything in his world is perfect. Their bonding sparks a romance that crosses language barriers and obvious fatal flaws in each other.
I'm just going to come out and say it: Grace is a ridiculous spoiled brat of a bitch. She's blonde, skinny, pretty, and is a princess in the music industry. She can't sing or play instruments but she's *awesome* at composing and is fantastic at everything.
She has trust and panic issues but it isn't really enough to make her relatable as a character. I wish someone in the book would have told her to lay off and actually be respectful of Korean culture and her friends but that never happens.
Grace repeatedly bashes Korean culture and shows such American elitism it made me want to gag.
"So people do play Western music"
She never really makes an attempt to dive in headfirst and opts to complain about everything that they do in Korea. Women wear skirts during winter? *Judgement* Girls are skinnier than her? *Judgement* They like to listen to bubbly pop music? *EXCESSIVE JUDGEMENT*
"I’m not sure what I expected--that they would be good? Pop is in the name of the genre. That never bodes well for the quality of the music. But I guess I’d hoped since they’re a big deal, they would be more than your average bubblegum band. After ten songs, my brain is ready to explode."
Get off your high horse. You sound like a baby. And it's not that I don't like her music taste. It's actually pretty good stuff in my opinion. But there's no need to be that person that judges everybody based off of what they are playing and listening to.
I guess that out of everything about Grace that bothers me, the worst is her obvious disdain for everything that she hasn't been exposed to. She tries to flaunt her hipster cred at every opportunity and it made me want to punch her in the face.
Moving on now to some other flagrant flaws in this book.
Jason flip flops. He doesn't have any real personality to me. One second, he is cold and removed and then he is apologizing. This author started with what could have been a strong character in him but seemed to sort of give up and try to make him nice. I like him mean and rude. I liked how he pushed Grace and made her lose her cool. Jason clearly just didn't care and that was part of his character and all of that changes very quickly. He turns from outwardly aggressive to making snide comments and trying to push everybody away.
Sophie is obnoxious as well. She's happy and bubbly (which is fine) but for being a "best friend" she abandons Grace for a guy. And then tries to hide it from everyone. I can understand hiding a relationship with your brother's best friend from him just so it doesn't get awkward, but don't sneak around and act like nothing is going on and lie to your roommate. Everybody knows. Just be honest.
Honestly, out of all the characters, I liked Yoon Jae the most. He came closest to what I expected out of a book about KPop and he is thrown under the bus as far as character development goes. Yes, he's the drummer of the group but maybe he got roped into something he didn't want too. Everybody treated him like he was the one that caused the tension but really, he was just as unhappy as Tae Hwa and Jason in the band. Doesn't anybody else consider his dreams too? He wanted to be an Idol and he had to play backup to a sexy singer. Yoon Jae could have grown so much more and could have competed a bit more for Grace but he is one of the most passive characters I've ever encountered.
It's telling when your favorite character is a secondary character that has little to no personality. But hey, he danced and he sang and he was what I wanted when it came to a Korean star.
The plot was rather weak as well (now that I've raged about the characters). Grace helps Jason with a music project and somehow ends up being her Korean tutor despite not being able to read Korean. And then later, magically, he can write in Korean. It doesn't make sense. Sophie drags Grace around the country following the guys like a groupie and it came off as desperate. Yes, you're there to support your brother but it's borderline stalker for the guy in the group you like. It seemed awkward and forced.
Grace's mother and father are obviously a point of contention throughout the book and Grace has some baggage that she's carrying around but it never felt real to me. It felt like a plot device throughout and it was too dragged out. She focused on it too much while there was other stuff going on. What about the concern for your roommate? Does she not matter anymore?
Ugh...sorry for the rage filled review. When I hate a book, I always find I have a lot more to say about it. I wanted sexy KPop. I got a little bit of drama and a whole lot of whining. Whatever, I'm over it. Crash and burn.
So this book definitely deserves the negative reviews. It portrays Americans as elitist and self centered. It barely shows any of the Korean culture. The main character is a complete bitch and her love interest is so contrived it's ridiculous.
All of that being said, if anybody has any suggestions for other books based on KPop, I'd love to hear them. I watch Korean dramas a lot and I love stuff like that so I would love some more input!