Cover Image: XOXO

XOXO

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Member Reviews

My Thoughts:
This is the perfect summer read, no thinking necessary, just enjoy the ride as these two high schoolers in an elite performing arts school in Seoul Korea live out their K-pop lives. Jenny is a Korean American from Los Angeles who is a serious concert cellist. She is technically flawless but she is missing the soul and passion that will take her to the next level. 

Jaewoo is a BTS style K Pop star. Their group has recently debuted and he has a lot of rules to follow as part of the K Pop boy band machine. He cannot bring scandal to his family or to his group by being in a relationship. But then he meets Jenny as he is hiding in the dark in a private karaoke room that is managed by Jenny's uncle. 

This story is deliciously unrealistic and saccharine. There is nothing wrong with that. After all, there is too much reality and drama happening around us. Why not escape for a bit. Everyone deserves a little escape and this is it. 

From the Publisher:
Jenny’s never had much time for boys, K-pop, or really anything besides her dream of being a professional cellist. But when she finds herself falling for a K-pop idol, she has to decide whether their love is worth the risk. A modern forbidden romance wrapped in the glamorous and exclusive world of K-pop, XOXO is perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Maurene Goo.

Jenny didn’t get to be an award-winning, classically trained cellist without choosing practice over fun. That is, until the night she meets Jaewoo. Mysterious, handsome, and just a little bit tormented, Jaewoo is exactly the kind of distraction Jenny would normally avoid. And yet, she finds herself pulled into spending an unforgettable evening wandering Los Angeles with him on the night before his flight home to South Korea.

With Jaewoo an ocean away, there’s no use in dreaming of what could have been. But when Jenny and her mother move to Seoul to take care of her ailing grandmother, who does she meet at the elite arts academy she’s just been accepted to? Jaewoo.

Finding the dreamy stranger who swept you off your feet in your homeroom is one thing, but Jaewoo isn’t just any student. Turns out, Jaewoo is a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. And like most K-pop idols, Jaewoo is strictly forbidden from dating anyone.

When a relationship means not only jeopardizing her place at her dream music school but also endangering everything Jaewoo’s worked for, Jenny has to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love. XOXO is a new romance that proves chasing your dreams doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your heart, from acclaimed author Axie Oh. 

Author: Axie Oh

Publisher: Harper Teen

Publication date: July 13, 2021
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<i>"I'm saying, people do strange things to protect their hearts. But when you're afraid, your heart is closed and it's never the right time but when your heart is open, and you're willing to be brave enough to take a chance, the time is always right."</i>

TL;DR: A well-written,super (but not overly) sweet contemporary romance about a teenage girl who unknowingly meets and falls in like with a K-Pop star, before moving from LA to Seoul to spend a semester abroad, where she reconnects with him. 
By all accounts, I SHOULD NOT LIKE THIS BOOK. And yet I do. I loved it. I couldn't put it down. More below, but I think this is a testament to Axie Oh's writing style and character development and the way she draws you in, like a Nora Ephron of contemporary, Korean rom-coms. 
<b><i>I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. </b></i>

Vibes: Your middle-school TigerBeat Boy-Band dreams come true, but make it K-Pop.
(C'mon. Most of us had that fantasy where we'd "run into" [insert 90s heart-throb] on the street and we'd be "so different" that they'd fall for us. This is THAT, in book form.)

Genre: True-YA Contemporary Romance
*Definitely True-YA, as there is a lot of angsty-teen-first-love as well as some high-school drama. 

Romance Meter: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤
Axie Oh scaffolds some other subplots in -- but this is, first and foremost, a romance.

Character MVP: Sori, the resident misunderstood-mean-girl-turned-BFF-because-underneath-she's-a-marshmallow. Actually got A LOT of Veronica Mars vibes from her...once popular girl because of her familys connections, but after a scandal, she becomes a high school pariah and intentionally distances herself from everyone around her to protect herself. 

Verdict: As I mentioned above, I SHOULD NOT HAVE LOVED THIS BOOK AS MUCH AS I DID. 
I definitely preferred [book:The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea|56978100], and I do wonder if, I had read this book first, I might not have read it. (I don't think so, but it's hard to tell.) I prefer the storytelling and lyrical prose style and lush fairy-tale vibes of TGWFBtS -- in general, I prefer fairy tale / fantasy to contemporary romance -- but Axie Oh will probably become an auto-buy author for me. 

XOXO wasn't a perfect story -- in fact, it ticked a lot of my quirks -- but, in the end, I just didn't mind. I really, really enjoyed it. It's a great fluffy-feel-good read, a 90's high school romcom in the vein of <i>10 Things I Hate About You</i> in book-form. 

For instance:
✖️ -- Time passed really quickly, and weirdly. We'd just skip over months at a time or important events just to move the story along. We go from November to March in the blink of an eye, and once Oh establishes Jenny's schedule at SAA, we don't spend much time in the school or classes again. 
Normally, this irritates me; here, not so much. 

✖️ -- Jenny's mom felt *really* flat, and the secondary characters come and go as is convenient. For example, much is made over Jenny going to visit her grandmother and establish a relationship with her, and then she just...kinda vanishes from the story. Same with Mean Girl Jina and Creepy Ian (more on him in a bit). They play pivotal roles in the story, and then just fade into the background...And yeah. I get that her mom is a busy lawyer, but we don't get those big moments that you'd expect. She's absent from most of the book and seems to just serve a stock placeholder role as "oppositional force."
Normally, this irritates me; here, not so much. 

✖️ -- Creepy Ian. He pops up near the beginning of the story and then is absent until one other scene in the back half. I *understand* his role: (1) establish Jenny as That Girl (who all the guys seem to like /gravitate towards) and (2) denigrate K-Pop music as "lesser" and inferior to other types of music, specifically classical music here. So I get his function and the role he's supposed to play within the story, and I don't necessarily disagree with it, especially the latter part. I'm assuming this may be something Axie Oh has encountered before -- and it's true of many things that we "fangirl" over; they tend to be dismissed as trivial and "lesser" and are often used as a way of denigrating and debasing fangirls -- but I just didn't like Ian's character, or his creepiness. The romantic interest I think was the part I could have done without. 

So I know that seems like I'm criticizing a lot -- and normally, for another book that didn't have other strengths -- that would be what I focus on. But my point is that I saw all those things and just didn't care. 

I thought the romance that Axie Oh told was sweet and cute and engaging. Her characters are, for the most part and even if they fade into the background, well drawn and differentiated and fleshed out. Like...what happened with Gi Taek's pseudo-eating-disorder? Did he overcome it? Get help? Realize he needed to bulk up instead? Gain self-confidence when he got friends? I have questions because I cared about the secondary characters too. 

I also really enjoyed the Seoul setting, and reading about the K-pop culture/industry. Its something I'm aware of existing, but I don't know much about it nor do I listen to the music much. But the boyband "industry" was fascinating to read about, if not a little heartbreakingly sad. Fan culture seems to be different in Seoul than in America, which is also engaging to think about...

A strong read, despite things that normally make me twitch. Will definitely be reading more of Axie Oh's work.
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This book was a fun coming of age romance. If readers want something entertaining and sweet this is a great option.
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Let me just start off by saying that the cover of this novel is one of the best of 2021 hands down. Sadly the content's inside did not live up to the cover in my personal opinion. This is an author I'll be reaching for again but I do not foresee myself reading this novel again.
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K-Pop is a popular topic of YA literature lately ... and with good reason!  The energy that K-Pop brings to the music scene and the droves of fans it amasses ensures that any book about the industry is going to be highly entertaining and engrossing.  Axie Oh's new novel XOXO, which features a cello prodigy who unsuspectingly falls for a K-Pop idol, is no exception.  This book is fresh, bold, and exciting, and is a delight to read.

Jenny, a teenage master at the cello, has big plans to attend a distinguished music school for college, but fate has other things in mind for her before she achieves that goal ... mainly by way of JaeWoo, the most attractive guy Jenny has ever seen.  When she kicks him out of her uncle's karaoke bar for loitering, she has no idea that their paths will cross again later that evening and that they will spend an amazing night together in Los Angeles.  Nor does she know that months down the line, she will run into JaeWoo again when Jenny and her mom temporarily relocate to South Korea to care for Jenny's grandmother.  But most jaw-dropping of all, Jenny has no idea that JaeWoo is a mega K-Pop star.  Yes, she has literally fallen for one of the biggest names in K-Pop, and it appears the attraction is mutual.  The only problem?  K-Pop stars are not allowed to date?  Can Jenny and JaeWoo keep their relationship a secret?  Or will their clandestine love affair be the next big K-Pop scandal?  

If you are a K-Pop fan or have any interest in learning more about the genre that has taken the music industry by storm, then XOXO is a must-read for you!  Axie Oh infiltrates this adorable love story with tons of K-Pop references and information about the Korean culture in general, making for a satisfying read that educates as much as it entertains.  Korean food?  Yep, it's in here and it sounds delicious.  Korean "year ages" (something I knew nothing about before reading this book)?  Yes, that's discussed too!  Korean beauty products?  Axie Oh has got you!  And K-Pop?  K-Pop is everything and it is everywhere!  Prepare to be dazzled by both the very public and very secret lives of Korea's hottest stars.  

Axie Oh's XOXO is recommended to readers who loved Lyla Lee's I'll Be the One.  Both books cover the K-Pop industry in great detail, and feature strong, talented female leads.
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This book was so SWEEEET!! I knew going into it that I would love the kpop aspect as an avid kpop fan for the past several years and this did not disappoint. 

I thought that the pacing was well done and I never found myself bored. 
Not to mention the romance was so cute and I found myself smiling a lot throughout this book. 

I can't wait to read more by Axie Oh !
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You can't help falling in love with this book! Fantastic read! A great addition to your library’s collection. This Own Voice book has broad appeal, it’s quick read, and it captures readers from the beginning. A very swoon worthy read! Plus, KPop! I’m not a KPop fan nor am I familiar with Korean Dramas, but I know that in itself can sell this book to reluctant readers. I’m really surprised this book is not making the rounds on BookTok – at least from what I’ve seen. I have and will continue to recommend XOXO by Axie Oh to young adult readers of all ages. I look forward to more young adult novels from Axie Oh.
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What a amazing book! I feel in love with this one. The story is spectacular, all the characters are super vivid. I recommend with my heart.
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Delightful and fast-paced, this sweet teen romance novel grabs readers by the hand, pulling us along  on the journey of a cellist to study music in Seoul. We enter the world of a performing arts school, where K-pop trainees and idols come of age.  How can talented artists in a relationship balance demanding schedules with their longing to be together? And how does this work when one person is a K-pop idol, trying to avoid the paparazzi?

At Jenny’s first encounter with Jaewoo, she hears him sing in her uncle’s karaoke bar, and realizes that, 
“After all, a true musician doesn’t just perform a song but makes you feel something. And it’s clear with how my heart aches from the memory and the music, he has the spark.”
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Very cute and sweet romance! The portrayal of Kpop idols and secret dating wasn't too unrealistic. If you enjoy Kpop or Kdramas, this one is a perfect, quick read!
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I have read a few K-Pop infused ya books this year.  It definitely is trendy.  But this one blew them all out of the water for me!

Thank you NetGalley for my copy of XOXO!

From the beginning of the story we get the mystery surrounding our male lead and the hardworking nature of our female lead.  They both are reaching for their goals, while falling for each other in such a sweet way.

I loved that a large part of this story takes place in South Korea - I feel like I didn’t know that going into the book.  The story has such a strong sense of place which I loved.

I would definitely recommend this to my K-pop or YA lovers.  A sweet story with great pacing and and enjoyable conclusion.


Rating: 
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 4.5/5
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I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 4 Stars

This was SO. STINKING. CUTE! I can’t even count the number of times this book had me grinning like a total fool. I ended up listening to the audiobook at work and was totally sucked into it. I listened to it all throughout my shift and the minute my work day was done, I picked up my kindle and finished reading the eARC. I just needed to know what happened right away.

I loved getting these glimpses of Korean and K-Pop culture, and honestly learned a lot that I didn’t know before picking up the book. I also loved that the main character developed such strong friendships while she was in Korea and that the focus of the book wasn’t solely her romance with Jaewoo.

The only reason this was 4 stars instead of five for me was the ending. It felt a bit rushed and anti-climactic to me. There was all of this tension building and then it was rushed. Jenny never really resolved things with her mother, I felt like there were things left unfinished with her grandmother, and the resolution with Jaewoo, while sweet, was a bit cheesy and seemed too easy.

I hope that we get more of these characters and would love to see some of the other XOXO band members get their own stories. I loved Nathan and definitely want to learn more about him.
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This was such a cute book and I loved it so much! All of the main characters were so great. I really loved the development of everyone's relationships. I loved their little crew and wanted to be a part of them. I totally wanted to eat all of the Korean foods they mentioned and to go to Seoul so bad! If you love all things Korean this is the book for you :D
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What a cute story! I was so excited to read this. I had never read a romance revolving around a k-pop idol and I was obsessed. It was so fun to follow Jenny go from being a studious LA high school student to breaking out of her shell during her adventures to South Korea for a semester abroad. I swooned when Jaewoo and Jenny had their moments and felt for them when his stardom got in the way. I loved the relationships Jenny had with the other band members and the friends she made in South Korea. Closer to the end of the book I did start to check how many more pages were left where the story could have been tighten a bit more or I wanted more from the characters but I still really enjoyed this. It's a super cute and fun read.
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This book was so good! If you like kdramas or kpop then this is the book for you. I loved this book and read it super fast. I think anyone can enjoy this book
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I absolutely loved this book! Wonderful, engaging, romantic—I didn't want it to end, and my only complaint is I wish it was a little longer. :D
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A sweet and lively coming of age novel with a bit of romance XOXO is a light and fluffy story that will leave you feeling good. Jenny Oh is a brilliant technical musician who just needs a bit of a spark to make her performances stellar. Taking the advice of her Uncle she decides to just live a little and ends up meeting a cute mystery guy. After moving to South Korea for six months with her mother, she finds out that shes in school with this mystery guy who’s not at all who she thought he was, but maybe just what she needs. Navigating this new life she makes friends, enemies, and most of all figures out what it means to be herself.

#XOXO #NetGalley
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Axie Oh’s XOXO is a big-hearted, feel good piece that’s equal parts humorous, adorable, painfully human, and deliciously wholesome. 

Jenny Go needs a spark. She’s a technical genius on her cello, but she’s missing the passion she’ll need if she wants to land a spot at her dream music school. 

Enter chaotic goodness in the form of Jaewoo, a sullen but irresistible young man who accompanies Jenny on the best night of her life. After Jaewoo mysteriously disappears and ghosts her via text, Jenny has to move on. 

But when chance throws Jaewoo’s and Jenny’s paths back together, sparks fly and these two combust. The problem is, Jaewoo is a K-Pop idol, and dating is strictly forbidden. Jenny has to decide if she’s willing to take a chance on love, and if Jaewoo losing his career is worth the risk. 

With beautifully rich Seoul as the glimmering backdrop, Oh transports readers into the culture, traditions, and intricate nuance of Korean life. 

*Siri, play K-Pop essentials playlist*
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I don’t know if it’s me (who likes food) or my book choices (very possible), but lately all the books I’ve been reading have been filled with mouth watering, delicious food descriptions. XOXO is no exception as Axie Oh takes us on a trip with Jenny and her mother to South Korea to take care of her grandmother. From kimchi pajeon to gimbap, you don’t want to open this book up on an empty stomach.

Outside of the food, I loved the different relationships.

~ Jaewoo and Jenny – cute and adorable romance (that starts with them meeting at a noraebang or karaoke bar), that is all.
~ XOXO members (and with Jenny) – if I weren’t already preoccupied in multiple fandoms… (no but seriously, I actually wouldn’t mind if someone could manifest XOXO to life. I’d listen to their music in a heartbeat) I’m such a sucker for bromance.
~ Jenny’s new friends – Angela and Gi Taek were quick to adopt Jenny the moment they meet at Seoul Arts Academy, and although Sori starts out as cold roommate who would would likely murder with a look, she eventually opens up as the book progresses
~ Her mother and grandmother – Axie Oh only touches the surface between Jenny’s grandmother and mother, but I still like how this was explored even at a surface level (especially considering Jenny goes to South Korea so she wouldn’t have to spend an entire semester alone at home)

I think there could’ve been some development with a few storylines such as with Jenny’s mother and grandmother, Sori and Nathaniel, and even among the XOXO members. The book went by at a very quick pace that sometimes it was hard to immerse into the story because we’d go from point A to point B within a few paragraphs.

Overall, XOXO was cute and adorable as hell, and I think this might be my favorite book set in K-Pop. XOXO checks off quite a few boxes for me: cute romance, friendship goals and of course the food (the most important part). Whether or not you’re already a K-Pop fan or just a fan of cute romances, Axie Oh’s latest novel is a perfect, feel-good quick and light summer read.
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Sweet and dreamy, I loved the romance in this novel. I like reading stories about characters who are accomplished and proud of their achievements, and the main character in this book definitely fits that bill. I liked the atmosphere and the setting, and felt really emotionally involved in the character's journey.
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