I think that I might have found a new favorite trope in the world of YA contemporaries. What is that trope, you might ask? Two words: Kpop boy band*.
*before you tell me that it’s three words, just ask yourself: what would phil from disney’s hercules think?
🎶 Kpop boy band
💕 childhood friends-to-lovers
🇰🇷 Korean culture/author
Thank you so much Disney Books for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Once Upon A K-Prom is incredibly reminiscent of XOXO by Axie Oh. But while XOXO takes place in Seoul, this story is set in the USA. This follows Elena, a girl who isn’t keen on going to prom for several reasons. One is that she’d much rather the funds go to the local community center, and the other reason? Well, that reason is the star of the biggest Kpop boy band in Korea…and the boy who’d promised to take her to prom when they were little. So what happens when he comes knocking on her door, prepared to keep the promise? What happens when the Robbie Choi Elena used to love is now a pink-haired idol?
I somehow read this entire story within the span of almost one full plane ride. It’s so incredibly wholesome, and fun, and full of all the cute Kpop cliches.
Elena sometimes annoyed me with how quickly she shut down Robbie, and her refusal to communicate properly, but I liked her for the most part. She feels overshadowed by all of her siblings, and just wants to make her Korean mom proud. I loved seeing her passion for helping people, specifically those in the community center. Even better, she has great female friendships that aren’t toxic in any way.
This did touch on some of the rougher aspects of the industry, such as the terrible attitude towards Korean idols and dating, as well as the concept of an artist’s freedom with their music. So I really appreciated that!
AND THE ROMANCE!!! It was so cute!!! I mean, it relied a little too much on miscommunication for my tastes but it was super sweet for the most part. It also had the benefit of being supported by hilarious banter from Robbie’s bandmates so yeah.
I enjoyed the glitz, the glamour, and the insanity of Kpop. But I also really enjoyed the smaller, sweet moments between Robbie and Elena that really helped make their relationship feel organic. I just wish that miscommunication hadn’t gotten in the way so much, because it truly did make the story feel a bit repetitive.
So that’s it! This is definitely a shorter review but I’d 100% recommend this for fans of XOXO by Axie Oh! I’m giving this 4.25/5 stars. Tell me: do you enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope? How about the Kpop love interest?