Cover Image: Once Upon a K-Prom

Once Upon a K-Prom

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This was so much fun! I love the way Elena develops throughout the story and the way the different friendships in the story grew. I loved Robbie and Sooyeon! This was a great read!
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Before reading Once Upon a K-Prom, I knew very little about K-Pop. However, as soon as I saw the cover for this book and read the description, I thought it sounded so cute that I wanted to give it a try, despite my lack of knowledge on the topic. I will say, I’d probably recommend doing a little light research on K-Pop if you’re entirely unfamiliar with it like I was, just because it’s way more complicated than I thought it was! I did learn a lot while reading this, but it might’ve been easier to follow along with all of the terms and references had I had a basic understanding of it.

Despite this, I did enjoy my time with Once Upon a K-Prom. It was a super cute and quick read about a romance between two old friends who reconnect after a few years apart, though now as different people. This was certainly a challenge for Elena and Robbie as they learned to navigate their friendship as new people, and with new feelings. Their romance was sweet, though I did have a few issues with it.

My main concern with the romance, and with the entire story, was Robbie’s character. We should’ve had more chapters in his point of view, because it would have helped the reader understand his motives better. We get a few hints that something more than what we see is happening, but because we spend very little time in his point of view, when the revelation came for what was actually going on (sorry for being vague; I don’t want to spoil anything), it felt like it came out of left field, and was also out of character for Robbie. If we’d had more time in his thoughts—even if it wasn’t revealed outright—we would have had a clearer picture of what was to come.

His characterization just felt a little bit inconsistent to me. He had all these feelings from childhood, but the way he acts on them in his teen years doesn’t quite match up with that. And I know part of this was due to growing up as an idol, but I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more consistency, especially with his feelings and actions towards Elena.

In addition to that, everything also always seemed to be Elena’s fault. She was constantly being blamed for everything—and while she certainly wasn’t blameless, it got a little crazy with how much responsibility she was piled with. Sure, she contributed to a lot of the issues that take place, but it wasn’t all on her. Really, I just wish that this had been addressed better, because to me it felt like her entire personality (scheduling everything out, always having a plan), was the reason things in her life went wrong. This is problematic to me, because as someone who thrives with schedules and consistency, and knows several other people who do too, I felt the conflict could have been handled better.

Even with all of these issues, I still flew through Once Upon a K-Prom. I read it in a matter of two days, during finals week at that, and did enjoy it. I loved the banter between the band members, and Elena’s friendship with Josie. These were some of the highlights of the story for me, and really kept me going.

I also loved reading about Elena’s time at the community center. I thought it was so endearing, and most of my favorite scenes were in relation to the center. It was an interesting addition to the plot and really strengthened the story. Throughout the entire book, I was rooting for Elena’s success in raising enough money to save the center, and by the time I finished, I had a huge smile on my face.

Ultimately, I did end up liking Once Upon a K-Prom, though I couldn’t ignore my issues with it, which is why I decided to give it a 3.5 star rating. Overall though, it was very cute, and I read it so quickly. If you enjoy K-Pop and childhood friends-to-lovers stories, I’d definitely recommend this one!
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3.5, rounded up. This is a light, engaging YA romance inspired by the K-Pop industry. While realism is not at the forefront of the plot, readers will be able to easily identify with Elena, who is struggling to figure out her identity and interests as the youngest (and a twin) within a family of five kids. There are plenty of tropes and references for avid K-drama fans, which was a bonus and a treat for me!
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with this ARC and ARC audiobook.


Description from NetGalley:
What would you do if the world's biggest K-pop star asked you to prom? Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sandhya Menon, this hilarious and heartfelt novel brings the glamour and drama of the K-pop world straight to high school.

Elena Soo has always felt overshadowed. Whether by her more successful older sisters, her more popular twin brother, or her more outgoing best friend, everyone except Elena seems to know exactly who they are and what they want. But she is certain about one thing - she has no interest in going to prom. While the rest of the school is giddy over corsages and dresses, Elena would rather spend her time working to save the local community center, the one place that's always made her feel like she belonged.

So when international K-pop superstar Robbie Choi shows up at her house to ask her to prom, Elena is more confused than ever. Because the one person who always accepted Elena as she is? Her childhood best friend, Robbie Choi. And the one thing she maybe, possibly, secretly wants more than anything? For the two of them to keep the promise they made each other as kids: to go to prom together. But that was seven years ago, and with this new K-pop persona, pink hair, and stylish clothes, Robbie is nothing like the sweet, goofy boy she remembers. The boy she shared all her secrets with. The boy she used to love.

Besides, prom with a guy who comes with hordes of screaming fans, online haters, and relentless paparazzi is the last thing Elena wants - even if she can't stop thinking about Robbie's smile...right?

I don’t often read YA contemporary, but now and again there’s one that just grabs me from the cover to the premise. This is one of those. I feel so much for Elena trying to find her place in the world. I do wish we got more from Robbie. There are a few sections that are from his point of view, but instead of more of his POV, there are profiles for each of the member of hid K-pop group. I don’t know a lot of K-pop, but I got the impression that it is similar to the J-pop scene with idols.

The plot follows the typical romance structure, but I think it could use a few more pages after the break up because everything was wrapped up super quick. The narrator did a great job.

Overall: 3.5/5
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I read this in a day! 😬 Such a cute, fun and delightful story about childhood friends who reunite after 7 years, except that one of them is a now an international K-pop star so all eyes are on you.

I really enjoyed what an easy and swoonworthy read this was, while still having enough depth and conflict to keep me engaged. The main leads weren't always likeable but they were realistic, spirited and sufficiently developed. I loved the supporting cast and side storylines. There were also some surprises that I didn't see coming.

Overall, an enjoyable and satisfying read!
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Thank you so much to Hyperion, NetGalley, and of course, the amazing Kat Cho for this ARC in exchange for my review! 

—

Oh my goodness… this book! It was so!!! Good!!! I want to touch on a few points. 

First of all! I loved Elena! I loved her vibe and her calculating nature. It was very relatable to me since I’m also a chronic planner. And when things don’t go according to plan, I get… very anxious haha. 

This book actually read like a kdrama! It was so cute and so much fun. I was laughing out loud at certain parts and thankfully I was home while I read it because I was able to properly yell about how cute certain moments were. 

One thing that did throw me a little was the switch from Elena’s first person in one chapter, to Robbie’s third person when we would get a bit of insight into what he was thinking. I LOVED getting to peek into his head and see what he was thinking but I was a bit confused the first few times it happened. 

I also loved the other members of WDB! They were so funny and their dynamic was so reminiscent of some kpop groups I love that it made seeing them all the more fun. I also have to give Kat MAJOR props for basically creating new own fictional kpop group, complete with light stick descriptions, a fandom name, and corresponding colors for each member. The member bios that look like they could be straight from the KProfiles website were also a super cool touch. They even had little fun facts and favorites that made them all feel like I was reading a real kpop idol bio. 

One last thing I wanted to mention was that, while the big conflict did come a bit later than usual, I didn’t mind it! For a hot minute, I actually thought that it would never be revealed but then it was!!! And it was so good! It didn’t feel forced or like it was just drama for the sake of drama. And what Robbie was willing to give up for Elena was so heartwarming, especially knowing how much it meant to him.
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This was such a good book! The concept was so different from what I normally read and I loved it! It was good to see from Robbie’s perspective also, especially to see a little bit what the K-Pop industry is like from the view of someone in it. This book was so different and so cute and I’m obsessed! I totally recommend for anyone into K-Pop and/or cute high school romance! Also the cover is soo cute!!!
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As the youngest child in the Soo family along with her twin brother, Elena just wants to get out of everyone's shadows. Her successful sisters and even her more popular twin brother all seem to have accomplishments Elena can only dream of. 

When prom season comes around, she hopes to make her mark by focusing her energy on the community center where she volunteers instead of all the prom chaos going around her. But then Robbie Choi, her childhood best friend, shows up at her door, literally asking her to attend prom with him.

Seven years earlier, Robbie had left the U.S. for Korea without much communication with Elena over the years. While Elena has been working to save the community center, Robbie has become a member of the global sensation K-pop boy group everyone is talking about.

How will prom season turn out for Elena?

I loved the characters especially Elena because she's just SO relatable. She's honestly kind of a perfectionist and feels that everything has to go a certain way according to her plan but also life doesn't work that way. Sometimes, she has a hard time knowing that but the supportive people around her always help remind her of it.

Overall, Once Upon a K-Prom was just such a fun, easy read. The childhood lovers omg are just so cute. Books on K-pop are becoming popular these days and this one is definitely a must-read!
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3.5 stars  

This book was purely escapism, and I love it. I previously loved Kat Cho's previous books - the Wicked Fox duology which are also some of my favorite books of all time, and when I found out she's writing a book that is based on the KPOP industry - I knew I had to read it. 

Once Upon a K-Prom is a sweet light romance read that will definitely melt your heart and take your mind elsewhere. I love the romance between Robbie and Elena and I really liked the subplot of saving the community center and Elena's complicated relationship with her family (especially with her brother).As someone who's twitter gets flooded up with K-pop tweets and also listens to K-pop and all that, I really like the way Kat approaches the concept. I like that Kat discusses the problems within the industry in this one - such as when she mentioned how mental health was still a bit of a taboo in Korea, and all that. 

While I really did enjoy this, there are some aspects of the story that I didn't really enjoy (although I don't mind it as well). For example, I was not a big fan of Elena at first and I really felt the 'I'm not like other girls' vibes coming off of her, although I did note that she became better as the story went on. I also didn't really like how the "antagonist" in this are portrayed as well - I felt like they were a bit cartoonish because you can really tell they were there to be just that. 

(Also wanna take a second to say how much I love the preorder incentives and the promotion for this book. The photocards thing sounds amazing!)
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Thank you to NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I thought the premise was cute and fun, and I enjoy reading the childhood best friends to lovers trope. However, I did not feel very invested in the characters, which made it hard to pick up this book. I also felt like a lot of the story was told to the reader instead of shown to the reader, which made it a less engaging read overall. I would still recommend this book to fans of K-pop and/or the childhood best friends to lovers trope, as well as anyone looking for a generally light read!
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

When prom season rolls around during her junior year of high school, Elena Soo has no plans to go. Instead, she fundraises for her local community center, the one place she's ever felt like she fits in. But her plans change when her childhood-best-friend-turned-kpop-idol shows up on her doorstep after years of radio silence to fulfill a childhood promise to take Elena to prom.

Be still, my K-drama loving heart! This reading experience scratched the same itch as a high school rom-com K-drama, and I loved it. Seriously, if you're a K-drama fan, this book is everything and more. It hits all the right vibes, plus has the deeper character arcs that you'd expect from a YA coming-of-age romance.

If I had any one complaint about this book, it's that Elena tends to willfully misunderstand basically every situation. Though she does have some reasons for this, and willful misunderstandings are also a hallmark of Korean dramas, I did find it a little annoying sometimes when a conflict would pop up just because Elena chose to believe the worst of a situation with little to no context.

Ultimately, this was a quick, fun, sweet read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Once Upon a K-Prom is a sweet teen rom-com that plays out like your favourite K-drama. Elena and Robbie “fell in love” at ten, were torn apart when his family moved to Seoul that year, and reunited 7 years later when Robbie shows up to fulfill a childhood promise to his first love. Naturally, Robbie became a huge idol while away and Elena turned into an awkward, often overlooked teenager with self-esteem issues.  

The plot unfolds at an enjoyable pace and uses many of the tried and true Kdrama tropes, but that’s what you’d expect when the male lead is a K-pop star. Kat Cho delves into the controls of trainees and idols and the micromanaging done by entertainment agencies to turn ordinary teens into money making idols. Even if it means they have to sacrifice who they are in exchange for what they want (success).  Cho doesn’t attempt to make fame and celebrity seem achievable without huge emotional sacrifices. 

This book is timely and has lots of modern day parallels to other titans of the K-pop industry achieving global stardom. A definite read for fans of South Korean entertainment or anyone who wants to see the boy who could have anyone falling for the ordinary girl next door.
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Once Upon a K-Prom is an entertaining rom-com that sheds light on the K-Pop world and the pressure put on its stars.  Elena Soo and Robbie Choi were childhood best friends, who agreed to go to their high school prom together when they were ten. Then Robbie moved to Korea and ghosted Elena when he became a famous K-pop star.  Seven years later, Elena is running an unpopular "alterna-prom" initiative, campaigning for students to spend their prom money to help a local community center. When Robbie reappears with an elaborate prom-posal, Elena is understandably embarrassed and flees. Robbie continues to pursue her, hoping to rekindle their friendship, but she wonders if it is just a PR gimmick to promote his K-pop career.  Told in alternating perspectives, the story unfolds with Elena warming towards Robbie, as he volunteers with her at the community center and aids her fundraising efforts.  There are several recent YA titles that focus on the K-pop and K-drama world, revealing the pressure that the stars are under and how controlled their world really is.  Elena and Robbie are believable characters that give the reader a window onto the complications arising from K-pop stars trying to have a relationship "offline."
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I really enjoyed this book. The premise of old friends getting to know one another again to keep a promise they made when they were younger was so sweet. I liked that Elena got more confident throughout the book and Robbie opened up. I loved getting to know the band members and learning more about the behind the scenes lives of K-pop idols. I really liked the pieces of Korean culture that were included as well. I would definitely recommend this book.
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Once Upon a K-Prom had an interesting enough premise which is why I was curious about it but for me it was a let down. 

I love characters who grow. They don't have to start out likeable, they don't even have to end likeable. They have to grow, change, learn. 

There's not really much of that here, or at least not enough for me. Also, suspension of disbelief only goes so far. 

Our couple made a promise when they were kids to go to prom together. Then Robbie moved away and they stopped talking. No communication for a while. Then he shows up on her doorstep one day, now he's an idol, and is like "remember our promise?"

That doesn't work for me. They didn't talk for, what, years? And yet he still showed up and remembered? It would have been more believable to me if they still talked but not that often. Maybe a text or two a month. But they were still in communication. 

Idols put themselves through the grinder, the K-pop industry is wild. But for them to just not speak at all and him to show up to keep the promise was a bit much for me. It was a peeve I guess. 


What also bothered me is that Elena is a down on herself for no reason character. There are moments where she absolutely should not feel that way but she does, she does it to herself. She has moments to put what she's learned into practice, to show some growth, and she doesn't. Then the end of the book shows up and it's not a smooth ending. Her change felt rushed and unbelievable.

Is it cute? Yeah, I guess. But when change is forced, as a reader it's annoying. Because that's not good, that's poor growth. No one ignores every chance to grow and then in the last 30% is like "wait a minute" and does a 180 shift. I couldn't get behind it. 

I'm giving this two (2) stars for competent writing. 

I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to them and the publisher.
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Once Upon a K-Prom, by Kat Cho, was a fun read that I enjoyed from start to finish. The characters in the book are likeable and people who would be easy and fun to know.  I recommend this especially to those young people who have an interest in Kpop or in South Korea.
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Thank you, Disney Publishing Worldwide, for allowing me to read Once Upon a K-Prom early!

Once Upon a K-Prom was a really cute, fun reading experience. Nothing original, but still very enjoyable
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book. 

I enjoyed this book a lot. It took a little while for me to fully get into it, but once I did, I liked it. It was a lot deeper than I was originally expecting, which was good. While I like fun and frothy books, I also want to feel like the book could be at least somewhat realistic, and this one was. It dealt with the cost of celebrity and pursing your passions.
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For Elena life has been one big living in the shadow of everyone else from her perfect twin to her successful other siblings. She just feels invisible. Most of all she feels abandoned by her former best friend and now crazy famous K-Pop idol Robbie Choi. She's busy trying to save her beloved community center, the only place she truly feels at home, but everyone else only seems to care about prom. When Robbie invites her to prom to (on a promise they made when they were younger to go together), she find her whole world uprooted.

I have pretty mixed feelings about this book. At first I was really into it and felt for Elena, but her constant "invisible again" mentality started to grate on me. Especially when it made no sense for her to feel this way later in the book. The turn the book took with this toward the end felt like jamming a puzzle piece that didn't quite fit to just get the puzzle over with. Also, the book was in first person from Elena's POV and third from Robbie's. While I've read this style of story before, it's really jarring for me, and I don't like it. Others may not have a problem at all. Robbie felt kind of flat to me too, and I didn't connect with him at all which made me not really care so much for the romance. Also, the world of K-pop wasn't as immersive as other K-pop books I've read. Everything kind of felt told from a fan perspective. I think that kids who feel like Elena does might enjoy this book.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this book.
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This book was completely adorable and it’s perfect for the month of may or even like a summer book. I love all the vibes it gave off and the characters were a lot of fun to get to know. 

Elena is a very sweet and tough girl, she feels like she isn’t seen by her family or anyone for that matter and she keeps everyone at arms length in the very beginning but slowly you see her healing her relationships and becoming someone amazing: 

I love the KPOP part of it which is a big part of it, I was a huge KPOP buff in middle-high school and I’ve been starting to get back into it. So it was nice to see it represented in this book in such a relatable way. 

The only thing I wasn’t a big fan was Robbie’s chapters, I honestly don’t think we needed his POV and I didn’t like how it changed to third person. But other than that it was a really sweet book and I think you all will enjoy it.
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