So if you follow me on any social media, especially Twitter, you may have noticed that I enjoy fictional idols. I’m not really into K-pop or real Japanese idols or anything. But idols from books, games and anime? Count me in. I kind of want to get some more idol content on my blog, so I thought a great way to do that would be to share a bunch of rec posts.
I’m starting with a blog post about some of the idol books out there. Novels you can pick up in the YA section of the book store. I’ve only read two of these, but it seemed like a good place to start. I’ll be writing more posts on idol manga, anime and games too. So keep an eye out!
These books all follow Korean idols, though my personal preference is reading things set in Japan. Because the majority of popular real idols are Korean, it’s no surprise that books for a western audience will follow them.
XOXO – Axie Oh
XOXO follows Jenny, a classically-trained cellist who one night runs into a k-pop star. She thinks she’ll never see him again, but when she goes to Korea with her mum, she winds up at the same school as him. Jaewoo isn’t allowed to date though, and the more time Jenny spends with him, she begins to realise that she might have to choose between their relationship and their futures.
I enjoyed this book so much when I read it. I’ve not really enjoyed any of Oh’s SFF books, but she did a great job with this contemporary story. I picked it up knowing it was set in Korea, and I was curious how different it would be from books set in Japan. Parts of it felt familiar and other things very different. I did enjoy seeing the differences.
This book had some very cute friendships, and I loved seeing the school. Not everyone there wanted to be an idol, but it kind of reminded me of some of my favourite idol series, so I found that pretty fun.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot, and I’ll be rereading this one in the future.
Shine – Jessica Jung
Shine follows Rachel Kim, an American-Korean girl, who when she was younger moved to Seoul for the opportunity to start a career as a k-pop star. She’s nearly ageing out of her chance to debut when she meets Jason Lee, a k-pop heartthrob who she winds up developing feelings for. Just as she gets her chance to get on that stage.
Obviously, if we’re going to talk about idol books, we’ve gotta talk about one written by an idol, right? I found this book to be such a compulsive read. I devoured it in one sitting, and I have book 2 on my current TBR. It was compared to Gossip Girl, and that rings pretty true. This book is filled with drama, and it felt a little wild in places, but I had a good time.
What I appreciated about this book was that it definitely showed the bad side of the k-pop industry. Being an idol no matter what country you’re in is going to be hard work and can often be fairly toxic. Obviously, this isn’t true for all companies, but knowing that Jessica Jung was an idol in a very popular group…yeah. It definitely adds weight to the topic.
Shine is still fiction though, and it might be a little more dramatic than the industry actually is, but it’s a fun book if you’re looking for something a little wild.
Once Upon A K-Prom – Kat Cho
This final book is one that I haven’t read yet, but am interested in getting to soon. I wanted to include it on this list because I love the cover, and it looks pretty fun. I feel like this book is probably more along the lines of XOXO than Shine, and that should make it a nice read. I also love that Kat Cho when promoting this book did a lot of k-pop dances and things on TikTok. She clearly loves the music and units she’s into, and that really showed in the promotion of the book. As did some of the pre-order incentives. There was information on all the boys in her fictional group meaning that any of them could be your bias. That really added something to the book and makes me more excited to read it.
In this book, we follow Elena, a teenage girl who’s always felt overshadowed by her siblings and best friend. But she’s living her life the best she can, and to do that, she’s been ignoring prom. She doesn’t need to go after all. Until Robbie turns up at her house to ask her to go with him. Robbie is her childhood best friend who is now a k-pop star. Going to prom with him would be a lot of hassle, but still, Elena finds herself tempted.
I obviously don’t know much about this book having not read it, but it does sound like a lot of fun. I’m on a ban right now, but I think I’ll be grabbing this one when I can buy books again. I actually don’t know why I haven’t got it already. I’m very excited about this book, so hopefully, I can get to it soon!
That’s it for my idol book recs. I think I’m going to try to read a few on Kindle Unlimited soon, so there might be some sort of post on that in the future… But for now, give me any recs to idol books you’ve read, and I’ll start getting my manga recs ready!