Published by St Martin's Press on June 9, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.
Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.
She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.
Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.
I think most people will agree with me when I say that I was looking forward to a diverse book, taking place in a country we don’t see much in YA lit, and on a subject (KPop) that I’m not at all familiar with. I was excited to learn about and experience a new culture, new scenery, new music scene, and new people. The author had an amazing opportunity to shine a positive light on the Korean culture, but instead made a mockery of them, not to mention Americans and our knowledge of cultures other than our own. I was very, very disappointed in this book and almost didn’t even finish it. As always, my main points are bolded.
1. I hope not all Americans act like Grace did when she ended up in South Korea, because she was ignorant, judgmental, pretentious, patronizing, and obnoxious. I was embarrassed and offended. She ran away from her problems at home to a place I’m not sure she had even heard of before, with all these pre-conceived notions and transparent stereotypes. She has this superiority complex that never goes away throughout the entire story. She seems to think it’s impossible that Koreans can think or act without the influence of Americans. “Oh, they have music here? Oh, they have their own fashion sense? Oh, they have their own food?” Does the girl not know that Earth is not some huge America? She’s insensitive, she’s not accepting, and her comments (spoken and thought) are downright rude. I can’t believe she made friends or fell in love because I would want nothing to do with someone like her if they came to visit my country.
2. The author did nothing to make me feel like I was in South Korea, except for throwing in a bunch of Grace’s horrible comments about how the people look and what they eat. This could have taken place anywhere. KPop was pretty much non-existent. I feel like the author just wanted to label her book “diverse” because that’s the thing to do right now, but did absolutely no research to back herself up.
3. I did not find the romance to be cute or sweet because I hated Grace so much. And the fact that Jason could fall for someone who is so rude and judgmental about his culture and his home made me respect him less. Is she just really pretty or something? I don’t see the appeal.
4. For that matter, I didn’t like anyone in this book. When I was a teen I chose good friends based on common interests and a mutual respect. Grace spent the whole story on her high horse, making fun of the place she chose to live (on a complete whim, no less). Why does anyone like her? So I kind of lost respect for them as well.
Basically, Grace ruined the story for me. I have not hated a character this much in a long time. As such, I’m going to quit reviewing this now because all I’m going to do is continue to justify my complaints with my hatred towards Grace. I’m so disappointed in this book, and would not recommend it to anyone. Hence, my 0-star review.