Published by HarperTeen on July 13, 2021
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, Romance, Young Adult
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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.
If you love contemporary romances and K-pop, you will love XOXO! I’m not really a K-Pop person, but I am a J-Pop and idol kind of girl so this book was still the perfect light and fluffy romance read for me. I mean, anyone who’s into idol culture has fantasised about dating an idol right? 😀
XOXO follows Jenny Go, a Korean-American high school student and talented cellist who is aiming to attend a top music school after she graduates. However, after being told that she lacks spark by a cello competition panel, she decides to let loose a little. She meets a mysterious boy at her uncles karaoke bar and they end up on a wild one-night adventure, before he mysteriously disappears. Soon after, Jenny and her mother decide to move temporarily to Seoul, Korea to convince Jenny’s sick grandmother to receive treatment, and Jenny has the shock of her life when she realises her mystery boy is none other than K-pop idol, Jaewoo, who also attends her performing arts school in Seoul. Except when they meet again, he acts as if he doesn’t know her.
There was so much to love about this book. It was an easy read with a relatable main character (besides the whole dating a K-pop idol thing) and a romance you could get behind. I loved all of the side characters and enjoyed reading about Jenny’s newfound friends – I’m really hoping that Axie Oh is planning to come out with companion novels based on some of these friends! And I really enjoyed being able to read more about Korean culture and hearing about all of the delicious foods.
What I did struggle with a little bit were all of the plot points that were a bit unresolved. Everything just seemed to work out in the end and the things that hadn’t 100% worked out were glossed over and forgotten. One of the more interesting elements of the book was the underlying theme of family, especially since Jenny and her mother have a bit of a strained relationship due to her mother being a bit absent. The novel started to explore this a bit but it was never really resolved in the end, and there weren’t any meaningful conversations between mother and daughter that made the story feel complete. The secrecy around Jenny and Jaewoo’s relationship also wasn’t really resolved – despite getting a really nice ending, it wasn’t really clear how their relationship would progress, with idols being forbidden to date.
Despite this, I still had a lot of fun reading XOXO and was able to overlook most of these things.
For anyone looking for a light and easy read, I’d highly recommend XOXO. It involves a fluffy and feel-good story and some really great characters who you’ll want to read more about. Despite having a few issues with some unresolved plotlines, I still really enjoyed the reading experience.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Thank you to Harper Collins for the review copy.
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Great review, Jenna! I also really enjoyed this one, especially with how cute Jenny and Jaewoo are and I love their friend group! I do wish things were resolved more clearly, especially about Jenny’s relationship with her mom and her mom with her grandma. The ending was quite open with a lot of subplot. I’m hoping a second chance romance for a certain character…
ooh, I like the secret identity part, always a winner in YA stories for me!
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