XOXO


Title: XOXO Author: Axie Oh Published: 13th July 2021 Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Pages:337

Start Date: 11th September 2022 Finish Date: 14th September 2022


Summary

Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure before he disappears without a word.


Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world, and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.


When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

Review

This story is the perfect balance of cuteness, fun and growth. I love the setting (I may consider a trip to Seoul!) and the music school in a big city is perfect for this kind of story. I found that the whole “I didn't know that you are famous” trope makes this so much sweeter, too, by just seeing how an average girl and a boy who wants to be normal work through their own teenage worries together, and honestly, all of the characters are amazing. I do not think I have read so many side characters who are just as awesome as the main ones.

I absolutely loved how Jenny and Jaewoo met. I mean a karaoke bar is so fitting for a k-pop idol and those two spent quite a nice night together. Their meet-cute was extremely sweet and I can’t believe Jenny didn’t know who he was. She found out soon enough though and to say the revelation kinda threw her would be an understatement.


Jenny was such a great character though and I really liked the way she thought about life and idols in general. Her stance on how fans should respect their idols and their wishes was amazing and I really wish the hard-core fans in the fandom would see it like that too. I think the majority of k-pop stans (and when I say majority I mean about 90%) want their idols to be happy no matter what they do or who they end up with. Unfortunately, not everyone in the fandom is nice though and there are the ugly sides of being an idol as well. Stalker fans (saesangs) and people in the fandom criticise everything their idols do. People think they can dictate what their idol wears, who they date or even what haircut they should get.


There will always be ships no matter if it’s among the members in the group or with members of other groups. The representation of XOXO as a k-pop group was more than just accurate too! The way the band members cared about and supported each other was so heart-warming and relatable. Everyone who’s a fan of a k-pop group will know that the members are basically family and that they spend a lot of time together. Most of the time even their youth because they become trainees when they are still very young and the other band members kind of compensate for their real family. So by the end of their trainee days and when they have their debut they are actually already a found family that gives each other strength.


And here’s the moment when I have to admit that I loved XOXO and that I’d definitely become a fan if they’d be a real k-pop band! All four members were amazing and no matter if it was Jaewoo, Nathaniel, Sun or Youngmin all of them totally gave me family vibes. The description of their roles in the group was typical k-pop too and I had a really soft spot for Youngmin (the maknae) and Sun (their leader and rapper). Of course, Nathaniel and Jaewoo were amazing as well and they all complemented one another and made their group unique.


All the side characters in this book were also a joy to meet. We have Sori, Jenny’s roommate who’s cold at first but slowly opens up throughout the book. There’s Nathaniel, Jaewoo’s Korean American bandmate and Angela and Gi Taek, Jenny’s first friends at Seoul Arts Academy. Angela and Gi Taek honestly remind me of Soo Ah and Tae Hoon from True Beauty.

However, XOXO was still an incredibly fun read with wonderful girl power friendships and heartwarming family moments between daughter, mother, and grandmother. We also have an honest discussion of mental health and idol life in the Korean entertainment industry as well as carving out one’s identity in the country your family is from.


A lot of the events aren’t realistic, but sometimes, you just want a story that will make you smile. This book is perfect for any K-Pop/K-Drama fan or if you just need something to brighten your day. From boarding school adventures to secret romances with celebrities, XOXO is a book that is pure trashy (yet heartwarming) goodness. If you need a pick-me-up, are a K-Pop fan, or simply looking to marathon a K-Drama but don’t have time, this is the book for you! Or if you have ever had a daydream fantasy when you were a teenager about having a meet-cute with a member of a boyband, this book was written for you.


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