‘Shine’ by Jessica Jung: Review

Synopsis:

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.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review:

Did I devour this way too fast and end up in a Kpop induced coma I genuinely didn’t want to ever leave? Yes, yes I did.

As a huge fan of Kpop and Jessica specifically, this book was literally everything I could’ve wanted. I’m going to be honest, the topics the book touched on are ones that are definitely problematic and I wasn’t expecting at all BUT so glad were discussed. As someone who’s been a Kpop Stan for more than a decade, I’ve always only seen the glamorous side of Kpop idols’ life and have always questioned whether or not it was real. To have an actual Kpop idol, an international sensation at that, come out and write a fictional (but based off the author’s own experiences) depiction of what being a Kpop Star is truly like is eye opening.

‘Shine’ brings attention to so much of what is wrong with the industry while also keeping the lightness of a YA contemporary for younger readers to enjoy. It’s focus on the double standard of being a female in the Kpop world and it’s fleshed out take on the competitiveness of it was prominent and enlightening. There were a lot of layers that I’m sure many, myself included, could really relate to without feeling the heaviness of the topics mentioned. I thought the female lead, Rachael was inspiring and motivating. Her will to not give up on her dreams through all the difficulties she faced is one that will surely stick with me.

It was surprisingly really well written (did not read like a debut at all), fast paced and genuinely a fun read while also being educational about the toxicity of being a Kpop trainee. It had some sweet moments I’m still swooning over, amazing banter, and overall an amazing premise. I truly think many YA contemporary fans will love this one regardless if they’re a fan of Kpop or not.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

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