Author: Axie Oh
Pub. Date: July 13, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
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.
This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook via Audible. While I didn’t 100% love the narrator for this book, I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
I’ve been anxiously anticipating this book for months. I don’t remember when it first crossed my radar, but it’s been at least 6 months and I’m thrilled that I finally got to read it.
I lived this book.
I mean, it truly came to life in my mind. I’ve never been to Seoul, yet I felt like I was right there. Also, this book may or may not have pushed me to buy BTS’s “Butter” because that song is so damn catchy. I don’t think I’ll fall into the rabbit hole of K-Pop, but I for sure have a mild fascination with it now.
I don’t think I would have caved and bought the song, if I hadn’t been reading this book right now.
But like, can we talk about how vivid this book is? It legit just comes to life right off the page. I had zero issues picturing anything, and I have a very limited understanding/knowledge of what anything looks like. But I felt like I was right there. I’m actually kind of blown away over just how alive it felt. Like, I knew going in that people were praising Axie’s writing ability, and damn, they weren’t kidding.
If you go into this book for anything – go in for the writing. It’s great.
Though, I will say, I found the story a little stiff – BUT I think (for me) it was more about the narrator than the writing. I thought the narrator did a good job, but she just didn’t do much for me. I wasn’t that big of a fan and I do think it slightly negatively impacted my enjoyment of the book.
As for the characters, I liked Jenny – she surprised me. I thought she was going to be more on the shy/reserved side, but she’s bright, vibrant and thriving. For the majority of the book, she’s pretty sure of herself, her wants, her needs. But like any lovestruck teen, things get muddied, she stumbles a bit, but still handles herself rather well. She goes on a journey of self-discovery and it’s wonderful. I think if she’d had stayed in LA, Jenny would have sacrificed parts of herself to appease others. Her going to Seoul gave her a chance to figure out who she is, what she wants and how she wants to achieve those things.
As for Jaewoo – I was actually kind of iffy, believe it or not.
Now, I’m a sucker for plot lines that are like this – though typically the one’s I read are Prince & Commoner, or vice versa or some kind of dynamic imbalance. And XOXO is no exception.
The whole concept of Idols and the sheer planning and work that goes into creating these K-Pop groups is incredible. Jaewoo is basically a cinnamon roll and incredibly endearing. When we meet him, he’s basically a lost puppy in need of rescuing. So, yeah, I was hooked from the first glance. But also, I get stressed when there’s that kind of imbalance between love interests because you know it’s going to end badly, or shit is going to hit the fan and you never truly know if the feelings are real, or fake. I think my iffy-ness stemmed from wanting him so badly to remain the cinnamon roll he is, and for nothing bad to happen.
I also loved Jenny’s friends and her grandmother – who totally gave me Mulan Grandmother vibes – I loved it.
Overall, I 100% recommend this book. The audio isn’t terrible, but I do wish I’d read a physical copy instead. But y’all, read this book. It’s definitely worth the hype and worth the wait. It was fun, endearing, and just good as hell. I can’t say I had a desire to go to Seoul prior to reading this book, but now – bring on the travel. For the food mentioned alone, I’d go. Also, wtf, I just caught myself thinking about K-Pop boy bands and how if I ever did fall down that hole, I’d be SOL. I now kind of get why people loose their damn minds. This book has really piqued my curiosity about the whole business. This book also has me sitting here going like, where tf is my hot, cinnamon roll singer who happens to be a K-Pop superstar idol.
Y’all, we might be in trouble LOL
But seriously, check this book out, add it to your tbr, request it at your libraries – just get your hands on this book and read it.