Cover Image: Once Upon a K-Prom

Once Upon a K-Prom

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Member Reviews

This one was so cute! When i started it, I wasn't sure what exactly to expect. I'd enjoyed Cho's other books, but considering those were fantasy with a romance sideplot, I was a bit wary. I'm so happy I picked this up though, because it was a super sweet read.

My favorite thing about this was defintely the plot. It gave off the same vibes as every teen romcom - sweet, unrealistic, cute. Basically, it's what all of us spent our childhood wishing for. This worked so well though, it fit the book perfectly. It was the perfect fluffy adorable read, and even in its predictableness had me smiling.

Another thing I really enjoyed were the characters. Elena wasn't super loveable, but I appreciated her as a character. Her friendship with Sooyeon was adorable, especially because Elena initially viewed her as competition. Watching their friendship grow was one of my favorite things about this. As for Robbie, he was sweet. A fairly stereotypical romantic lead, but a fun one nonetheless.

Although this wasn't anything world-breaking or realm-defying, it was still a super fun read, and one I'd recommend!

Thanks to Netgalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
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This book was so incredibly cute! 
Do you have to like K-pop to enjoy this book? No!
Is it more fun if you do like K-pop? Yes!

This book is like a big hug. It is just so comforting to read. The main characters are both adorable. I adore Robbie so much. You can tell he is just trying so hard to be the perfect  Idol, but at the same time wants some normal teenage activities like taking his childhood crush to prom.  The only reason this was not a 5 star for me is because of the cliché mean girl trope, which isn't my favorite, but it is a teen rom-com so you kind of expect it to be in the book.
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Thank you Netgalley and Disney Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is a very sweet and endearing story about Elena, a teenager who feels overshadowed by her family and invisible at school. She is headstrong and independent and is asked to the prom by none other than K-Pop star Robbie Choi. But before Robbie became famous he was Elena's childhood goofy best friend. Elena has to decide if their promise to go to prom seven years ago holds up today especially with screaming fans and paparazzi. So will Elena go to the prom with Robbie, you'll need to read it to find out.

I enjoyed Elena as a MC and Robbie is pretty cute with his banter with Elena. I thought this was an easy read and I think many K-Pop fans will enjoy Kat Cho's writing on it. I wish the K-Pop world was explored more as it is a fascinating subject to talk about (behind the scenes). I liked Kat Cho's writing and thought it was fast paced and to the point. Elena is a great character and I liked her development.

4 solid stars.
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Thank you Hyperion/Disney for the ARC in exchange for an honest review! 
Quick, light-hearted, and very entertaining. Can't help but root for Elena + Robbie. I liked how it tackled some personal struggles someone might go through, especially with relationships (not limited to romantic ones). Gives you a glance at what struggles a kpop group might be going through, with the secret dating, and just being treated as a commodity in general. I'd totally recommend the book as everyone will enjoy it, kpop and non-kpop fans alike!
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Thank you Hyperion/Disney for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Once Upon a K-Prom has a cute premise of childhood friends who made a pact to go to prom together when they were kids. While Robbie movies away, leaving Elena to not expect their pact to come to fruition, he comes back years to fulfill their promise. Except this time around he’s a full blown K-Pop Star, which means even more shenanigans ensue during the whole process.

As one of my anticipated reads of 2022, I was really excited and looking forward to this book. The premise was solid and it was exciting to see KPop being explored in American books. Unfortunately, it did fall a bit short for me.

Don’t get me wrong, the book was cute overall and it wasn’t a bad read. In fact, I feel like most people would enjoy this book. There were just a few problems I had while reading it that made me less excited now that I’ve read it.

As a Korean American that knows a bit about the k-pop industry, the book touched only a surface level and watered down topics that I wished the author explored more of. It was a great opportunity to really show how exploitive and manipulative the industry can get, and even scary with the fan culture. Also some of the romanization of the Korean words felt a bit off, but that might just be a me thing.

I also didn’t really feel too invested in the characters. Robbie and Elena definitely had their cute moments, but it wasn’t enough for me to squeal and root for them. There were even times where it felt like it dragged on with internal monologues, when it might have been better to show the awkward cuteness of them rekindling their friendship/eventual relationship.

Overall a very cute book though!
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what a wonderful, lighthearted romcom! i loved Elena's character, how she cared about the community center and her development throughout. i also loved the exploration of celebrity culture and korean music industry. full rtc!
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Ever since finishing Axie Oh’s XOXO last year, I’ve been looking for something that made me just as giddy, and I was hoping that Kat Cho’s Once Upon a K-Prom would do the trick! Once Upon a K-Prom promised so many things that I loved — childhood friends to lovers, celebrity trope, second chance romance, being true to yourself & a journey of self-discovery, among so many other things. So, it’s really no surprise that I loved Once Upon a K-Prom. 

Once Upon a K-Prom follows Elena, who has always felt invisible, and overshadowed by the people in her life. Whether it’s by her twin brother Ethan, her older sisters, or her childhood best friend and ex-neighbor-turned-international-KPop-Superstar, Robbie Choi. Everyone around her seems to know what they want to do with their life, and seems to be more concerned with prom — aside from Elena, that is. All Elena wants to do is find enough funding to save their local community center from closing. When Robbie shows up at her front door to ask her to prom after seven years of no contact, her entire world is turned upside down. 

I wanted to give Elena the biggest hug. After being constantly compared to her siblings and her community, and feeling left behind again and again, it’s no surprise how fiercely protective she is of the local community center. I loved how much Elena cared about her community, and really felt for her. Elena needed to learn how to let go of control, and how to communicate better, and I appreciated watching her journey unfold. 

I’m not very immersed in the world of K-Pop, but one of the standout aspects of Once Upon a K-Prom was the exploration of celebrity culture, and what it means to be an Idol. Through Robbie’s lens, we get to read about how much work and control goes into maintaining his brand and image; his label controls everything, from the color of his hair, to how he spends his day, and even who he dates. I also appreciated the commentary on celebrity culture (or rather, stan culture), and how invasive it can be. The lack of boundaries and the netizen bullying of Elena for simply being associated with an idol was reflective of stan culture. Robbie’s involvement with WDB, and his relationship with his fellow bandmates felt very realistic, and I loved reading about their dynamics as well. 

I personally struggled to connect with Robbie. While he was sweet and charming, the chapters where we get his POV took me out of the story. I found myself really wishing for more character development for him because at the end of the day, he felt a little too perfect and too manic-pixie for my liking. 

Overall, I thought Once Upon a K-Prom was fluffy, lighthearted, and adorable, and would highly recommend it.
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I cannot wait to own a physical copy of this book just to tab every other page because of how many feelings it gave me! It was just so cute and fluffy and fun! It really gave me exactly what I wanted from a KPOP childhood friends to strangers to lovers story!

Listen, I’m sure there were other parts of the plot that were important, but all I cared about was Elena and Robbie and all of their moments. Sure, there were things about prom and raising money for the community center, but those took a backseat for me as soon as Robbie showed up and the fun began!

I loved the fact that Robbie was trying to woo her and Elena just had no idea how to react! The proposal… the music video dance… everything was just so cute and adorable and fun! I really felt like I was reading the best kind of fan fiction!

Robbie’s bandmates were so fun to read about and the extra little drama between Sooyeon and Jongdae too!


I think the family dynamics were also really interesting. The feeling of being overlooked by the “better” sibling just because he’s a boy was all too familiar. Even little moments made the characters more three dimensional! Kat Cho does a phenomenal job of expanding a character without small details!

Also, I just loved how much Elena cared for the community center. She cared for the people she helped and that never changed and I really appreciated that!

But going back to the real star of the book. ROBBIE CHOI. ABSOLUTE LEGEND. LITERALLY SO ADORABLE! THE BANTER, THE LITTLE MOMENTS WHERE THEY GET TO LEARN ABOU TEACH OTHER AGAIN. UGH, I LIVED FOR IT.
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I loved Kat Cho’s Wicked Fox duology, so as soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. 

The book was everything I’d imagined and more! Kat does so well at capturing the current hallyu (Korean wave) as well as bringing up the strict rules that K-pop stars have to follow. 

And of course this book is also a great story on friendship, love, and belonging. Plus, while the plot seems outlandish, it’s still so relatable and like it actually could happen. 

Oh and one thing more I loved was spotting the k-drama tropes. In my mind I had almost a tally going to check off when something came up. It made the read even more fun!
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Fun and engaging. It made me feel like a teen again! Such a great Kpop book! But those that don't know anything about the world of Kpop will still love this book.
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Robbie and Elena used to be the best of friends, but Robbie's move to Soul and his becoming one of the biggest k-pop stars has changed that. However, their connection rekindles when Robbie turns up in Elena's life years after they've lost touch with the intention to keep their childhood promise of going to prom together. 
This book truly was made for the childhood friends to lovers enthusiasts! You have the careful treading of that fine line as the two are scared of breaking the precious connection they already have, the yearning on both sides as they want to become more. You also have the additional layer of their distance (both spatial and temporal) making it so that they have to relearn who the other is after all these years. There's something so tender and fragile and tentative about their relationship, which is so heartwarming to follow as a reader. 
I also appreciated that outside of the relationship, both characters had a lot of growing up yet to do individually before they could come to a place to allow anyone else into their lives that way. 
Naturally, I adored that drama and hijinks brought by the fame aspect, from concerts to fans and managers, AND LET ME TELL YOU HOW WONDERFUL OF AN ADDITION I FOUND THE MEMBER PROFILES TO BE!
This book is just such a treat and a delight!
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I found this book to be very cute. The beginning was a bit stilted but it definitely picked up as the story progressed.
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~👑Special thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!👑~

I should've accepted that marriage proposal.

Rating: ✨✨✨✨3.6

See, when one gets a 'Say Yes To The Ring' moment when one is in kindergarten, that immature, tiny, miniscule brain thinks 'oh, that's weird, let's run away'. While years later, that same immature, slightly larger, miniscule brain thinks, "I could've been a married lady by now, with a slightly-disturbed-because-the-kid-chased-me-all-around-the-fountain-while-viciously-holding-on-to-said-flower-ring to lovers trope, and sweat stains from running away as my reminder of it."

Frankly, I'm still wiping tears.

With a big chunk of ice to make myself suffer because why can't I have THIS-
I missed the opportunity, and it hunts me.
It doesn't, but I'll say it does for effect.
I may be emotionally spent and money less, but let's make it ~dramatic~

Being superficial for a second, that cover owns me.
It owns my mortgage, my life, my own Barbie collection- and while reading some corny/ slightly cheesy scenes that fit perfectly with the vibes of the book, I thought about being critical and judging everything...

But then I thought, let's be real, I'm never going to have this ish (unless the kid that chased me back then, still holds a burning candle for my arrival, which I doubt-) in real life, so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Speaking of which, that brings me to the first topic of this ess- review (barely two days back in Hell, and I've already been hijacked), the fact that books like this give me hope for my celebrity meet-cute. AKA, the plot and storyline.
The book's pace itself was on steroids, most likely some hallucinogenic drug too- wait, maybe that was me, never mind. By page 20, the characters were already in each other's lives, by page 40, feelings were already present. By page 100 they probably swore never to be apart again- you know what I mean. Those kinds of steroids, and honestly? This mass of bad decisions was alllll here for it. I've been dying to read a celebrity/commoner book that's appropriate to mark as 'read' (cough) when people that share my own blood follow me- and this one was the perfect one!

Quick, light and basically a batch of whipped cream dumped on waffles.
Dang, now I'm hungry.
Which is also what this book made me feel.

For food, not uh... I'll shut up now.
Holy fire is needed in aisle 5

The storyline follows best friends that were separated when they were kids--one taken to stardom in the K-Pop industry, whilst the other strived to save a community center from closing down-- then suddenly Spy Boy comes back into the picture, and guess what? He rocks the MCs world.
...
......
I need a mental ice bath.
The puns are too frigid-
(I need help)

I liked that plot so much (not the ice bath one). Not too much to absolutely adore it, but I flew through it like a single-minded chipmunk.

Then, of course, we have the daydreaming portion where I envisioned V as the love interest for the whole book-
And I blushed.
Flushed (not the toilet)
And combusted.

But revived myself to finish this.

The characters themselves weren't that big of a deal. Superficial, sweet, if they died maybe I wouldn't have cried- BUT THAT'S OKAY. NOT EVERY BOOK HAS TO BREAK YOU, BOOKSY. HUSH YOURSELF

I really wanted to care more about them, you know? I wanted to see how they were beneath their masks and dance breaks.
They were more... fillers, I think.
We got the mean girls.
Sassy bff.
Annoying yet super hot brother.
More mean people.
The one friend that's not mean but not nice.
You know the gist-

The MC needs a thousand hugs, possibly a bottle of tequila, possibly a pillow fort and the words 'you're worth staying for' tattooed on her forehead. You have no idea how much I related to how she felt and the things she did when times seemed a little too difficult. Trust me, I gave up on the violin a loooong time ago because I didn't have a passion for it, and maybe I didn't. But perhaps I didn't want it because it got hard to do. And the fact that she went from journaling to music to art and didn't find the one that called to her made me feel not alone. We're teens, we don't have anything planned out, most of us don't know what the heck to do with life itself. And even if you're not a teen! Perhaps you're 88 (which is epic) and don't know what the complete purpose of your existence is. I've learned that just enjoying hobbies or studying the things you want to study is what makes living, better than existing for a single goal. And her character ARC was fabulous.
Mainly because the rest of the characters made her see what was going wrong, and I love THE COMMUNICATION-

Then we have the love interest-he- UGH, okay? (look at me using my words) That's really all. I wanted to squeeze the cuteness out of his bootiful self, bottle it up and spritz it every time I walked into a room. Disturbing visual? Yes.
We need to bury this man under 56789 pounds of cotton to preserve his precious innocence. Time and time again, his adorable self was too much to resist. If I were to rate him from 'Ew, what's that', to 'MARRY ME, LET'S HAVE OFFSPRING-', I would give him a solid 'you brighten up my day, you' next to 'I'll steal you away and place you in a lovable dungeon'

More on the like than in the love-basically this whole book.

The main event of this book, though, was (McDonald's outro) the romance! It was easy, sometimes not very easy because COMMUNICATION was not present (I have an innate dislike for that trope), but ultimately fun, loveable, perhaps shoveable too, sweet and quick. The atmosphere it created was not one of sizzling feasts, more like desserts served cold on a summer day. I had the issue of finding it was too fast for me to completely adore it, but I see why. Or at least what was the purpose of it. Childhood sweethearts meet again, disastrous Promposal, the holy duo of Rom- Coms everywhere.

It helps that I was eating Ice Cream while reading, not going to lie- *wink WINK*

The thing I least enjoyed, overall, was probably how easy every problem was fixed at the end. Because sometimes it takes time to recuperate a bond, to forgive years of fights or hatred. The fact that it was made so easy within the last 25 pages was a tad frustrating. I want to see the struggle, or even better, leave it open-ended! Life is not perfect, so why should familial or even romantic relationships strive to be so?

On a closing note, this is a book you can most likely read in under four hours. It's funny, fluffy, uncomplicated, painless (ahem, as every book you read should be, Booksy-) and above all, so flipping wholesome.

I'm still waiting for my ring, V.
You may be a little (COUGH) older than me, BUT I'LL SOON BE LEGAL-
JUST HOLD UP THE DANG AGING-
EVEN THOUGH YOU LOOK SO FINE STANDING THERE-

(P.S: To the boy who chased me with a flower ring, I want to tell you that even though I screamed bloody murder, you made me feel loved, and I hope someone makes you feel that way now.
Or, you know, give me a call-)

I wish you the sweetest bookish day!
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Thank you to Disney Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. As a huge fan of the author, I was so excited to get a chance to read it early!

Kat Cho's done it again with Once Upon a K-Prom! I absolutely loved this book and it hit on so many favorite tropes: forbidden romance, famous person falls in love with regular girl, ride or die friendships, and so much more.

While most people don't have an international K-pop superstar as a best friend, the feeling of being left behind or overshadowed by friends and family is a much more universal experience that I think many readers will be able to relate to. I know I did, and I would have loved to have access to this book when I was a teen.

The book hinged a lot on the miscommunication trope and while I appreciated that the story gave valid reasons for why they couldn't always just call or text to clear something up, it did get to be a bit much. That said, I still absolutely loved it and can't wait until my final copy arrives!
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3/5 for Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho

I was very excited when I picked up this book. The kpop idol and normal girl trope has quickly become one of my favorite. While this book delivered towards the end, the beginning could have been much better. There was little setting development and it felt very rushed. The ML, Robbie was so suddenly introduced (as expected), but he experienced little character development. I was honestly very disappointed with his action...and don't think he should be forgiven. Overall, the whole book felt quite rushed. It was all go, Go, GO! It would have been better to slow down at some parts and really develop the characters as real people. The only redemption for me was how relatable Elena (the FL) was. The struggles she faces in her family parallels my own.
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Once Upon a K-Prom is so cute. I loved the (estranged) friends to lovers trope, the K-pop band and industry insight, and Elena's involvement with the community center.

Elena's character never sticks with anything hobby-wise and keeps people at a distance for when they inevitably leave, but she's doing her best to improve her corner of the world. She has issues with her family and classmates, but most of that gets resolved.

Robbie has to remember who he was seven years ago to rekindle his friendship with Elena and get her to agree to go to prom. I enjoyed his POV chapters, learning about his bandmates, and having a behind the scenes look.

Overall this is a quick, entertaining read.
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I really enjoyed this book.  Minor spoilers.

Elena and Robbie are super cute together :)  Once Robbie stops listening to his cousin on how to wow a girl, he gets a lot more likable.  I love how they reconnect and grow close again.  There are some pretty amusing moments, but the main takeaway for me was relationships- familial, friendships, and love interests, not assuming anything and keeping lines of communication open, since this would have prevented just about all negative moments.  

This would probably have been a 5-star read for me if it wasn't for the MC's having their first kiss and crushing on each other when they were just 10 years old.  1) they're way too young to crush/ be in love with someone, and 2) seven years pass before they see each other (crucial teenage years where you typically see substantial changes in people), but they still know each other, etc.  I could have bought it if it would have been a couple of years, but seven is a long time to remain the same person.
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This had such a fun premise. There were definitely some cute moments, and I appreciate that it highlighted some of the darker aspects of K-Pop, such as the strict rules that idols must follow. Plus, how gorgeous is that cover?

Unfortunately, though, it felt like too much in this book hinged on miscommunication. I did enjoy the main character's passion, and I found her relatable in some ways, but there were also so many strained and broken relationships based on assumptions and a lack of talking things through. Towards the end, it felt like there were a couple of times where she was just being stubborn and doubling down even after being confronted with her errors, and that made me lose a lot of sympathy for her. I would much rather have seen more development, and to have gotten to know some of the side characters better.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. 
This book.was adorable and lovable, with fun and relatable charecters that I couldn't help but love. My only issue was that sometimes the chapters felt unbalanced, with more of Elena's POV than Robbie's, and I wish they were more balanced or that there was more of a pattern. Other than that, I loved the story and charecters, especially Elena, who was sweet and caring. I definetly reccomend if you like K-Pop and slow-burn childhood-friends to lovers. 4.5/5 stars from me.
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Thank you to Disney Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. All opinions in this review are my own.

This book was the K-Drama YA novel that my heart needed right now. It was everything I thought it would be, everything I wanted it to be, and then some. It reminded me of how much I love & miss K-Pop/Korea, and highlighted the fact that sometimes the way we perceive things is not always what is happening behind the scenes.

Elena is a flawed character in the best way. Her flaws make her real and believable - and thus the best type of main character to follow. In fact, all of the characters were written with believable flaws, coming off as very realistic and not too perfect, even the K-Pop stars. Everyone in this book is accessible and I would want to be friends with most of these characters (there are a few I would be fine leaving in the book). The whole book is just very sweet, even when my heart ached because of the misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Kat does a great job as well with highlighting the chaos that it is to be an idol in the Korean music industry, especially after the Hallyu 3.0 wave started. Between the netziens, dating scandals, reality TV shows following the groups, and the struggle with finding your own voice while under contract. The entertainment industry in Korea very different than the US, and this does a good job explaining some of the weird nuances of it.

There is so much I could say about different small points about the plot, but overall this book just made my heart sing. It made me emotional through a combination of nostalgia and just cute YA-ness. I can't wait for it to be out for everyone to read as I think it is just a sweet book. 5/5
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