Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Review: Shine by Jessica Jung

 K-Pop anyone? When I saw this one, I had to get my hands on it. I do have a secret soft spot for Asian shows and movies. While K-Pop isn't really included in this love, the story definitely struck my interest. I've heard bits and pieces about the reality behind K-Pop, and this book promised to dive into exactly that world. 

Shine #1
by Jessica Jung
Simon Pulse
Young Adult Romance / K-Pop
352 pages

A Korean American teen is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Girls Generation.

What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?

For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?

Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.

GOODREADS   /   BOOK DEPOSITORY    /    KOBO    /     AMAZON    /    B&N


                                              * written by someone, who has experienced the K-pop scene
                                              * teen drama pure
                                              * rich world
                                              * quick-moving plot


The word K-Pop already awakens expectations of sparkle, wealth, and excitement, and this novel definitely delivers all of that with a rollercoaster of drama to make it complete.

Rachel is an American, but her family does come from Korea. While she never felt completely at home in the US, the family's move to Korea didn't settle things in that direction, either. Still, she now follows her dreams and has trained for more than several years to become a K-Pop star. She's a favorite among the trainees, but her age makes her slowly a tight fit. Still, she's determined. Despite her hard work, life throws several hurdles her way, not only in the competition among the other trainees but in her family as well. When Jason Lee, one of the biggest K-Pop stars, steps into her life, though, things really get interesting. And not necessarily in a good way.

I do love my Asian shows, dramas and such, and was excited to get my hands on this one. Normally, I'm a bit wary of celebrity authors, but Jung does a wonderful job at taking her own life and letting it weave into a grabbing novel. It packs drama....tons of drama....the life of the rich and famous, struggles of those who wish to become rich and famous, girl fights, boy dreams, the usual push-and-shove of parents and teens, and sibling relationships. So, this book definitely holds subplots and a certain amount of depth. 

The characters are sweet and very easy to sink into. While this one is sold as a young adult novel, I see it as a solid tween read. It holds all of those insecurities of fitting in, sweet romance, and still, needing the family. Plus, it plays along lightly with the teen drama in a way this age group tends to eat up. The story definitely flies by and is hard not to read in one sitting...but then, it's an easy read, too.

Many of the characters are rich...and Rachel's family isn't poor, either...and while there are mentions of upcoming financial issues, this one isn't a problem in the book. There are also moments where Rachel mentions her problems of really fitting in, but even this is more slid over than deeply explored. The real problems in this book rotate around Rachel and her family...which I appreciate and found nicely done...and the expectations of being 'owned' by the businesses, which fuel K-Pop. It's not a nice business, and this does come across pretty well with several harsh themes (weight watching being one of them), but it also gets mixed in with the competition between the girls (nasty). This is one reason I see this better set for tweens. The true harshness is only glimpsed at but not really ever closely scrutinized. This is simply not a book about dealing with serious problems but rather it's more about a girl fighting for her dream and the drama involved.

The romance is sweet and builds as the book goes along. I did appreciate that it wasn't an instant love. Plus, it takes a unique twist at the end. If anything stumbled for me, it was these last chapters, though. Things got pushed through relatively suddenly, and while it worked, it worked too well and without much depth or emotion (compared to the rest of the book).

Still, this was an enjoyable read and I believe K-Pop tweens will devour it. Since this is the first in a series, it will be interesting to see what drama Rachel will face next.

And here she is...

Jessica Jung, known mononymously as Jessica, is an American singer, actress, and fashion designer known for her work as a former member of South Korean girl group Girls' Generation. (taken from goodreads.com)

No comments: