Cover Image: Once Upon a K-Prom

Once Upon a K-Prom

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Member Reviews

I’m struggling with how to rate this one. It’s easily 3.8-4.0 if the final product has a thorough edit. If not… 3.5?

Anyway, thank you to Netgalley & Disney Hyperion for the ARC. Keep in mind that I read an uncorrected digital version of this book.

Elena (or Elana? It was spelled both ways at different points) Soo is a high schooler who doesn’t plan to attend her prom. Instead, she’s more concerned with saving the local community center where she volunteers. Meanwhile, her childhood friend Robbie, who moved back to Korea when they were 10 and then went on to become a member of a popular K-pop band, returns to keep their juvenile promise: that he would take her to prom.

Sure, it basically reads like fan fiction. But it is a largely cute and swift read. It reminded me a bit of “You Should See Me In a Crown.” (Though this one is firmly hetero.) And aside from Elena being something of a self-insert type, she is relatable in her feelings of invisibility, in her attempts to find herself and “her thing.” The fact that she learns a lot about herself through the book and realizes she’s made as many mistakes as she accuses others of making, gives the story a little bit more depth.

Elena’s chapters are first person; the few Robbie has are third person. Kinda strange, and I don’t know if that will be changed before publication, but… It’s a choice, I guess. I mostly hope they fix the places where it goes from past to present tense, which is a particular peeve of mine.

In all, a solid upper middle grade to lower YA offering. Light and inoffensive, just enough steam to be safe for somewhat younger readers.
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I'm a huge believer that this book will do good once it's officially out! As someone who is maybe now beginning to see kpop in books, it's like where has this been my entire life? Coming from a reader of Axie Oh's XOXO, this fits within that similar genre.

I thought this book was cute and like others, didn't fully love the miscommunication aspect but it is an aspect that happens a lot in life and more so even in teenagers. I can't wait to re-read this again once it's out!
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Once Upon A K-Prom is incredibly reminiscent of XOXO by Axie Oh. But while XOXO takes place in Seoul, this story is set in the USA. This follows Elena, a girl who isn’t keen on going to prom for several reasons. One is that she’d much rather the funds go to the local community center and the other reason? Well, that reason is the star of the biggest Kpop boy band in Korea…and the boy who’d promised to take her to prom when they were little. So what happens when he comes knocking on her door, prepared to keep the promise? What happens when the Robbie Choi Elena used to love is now a pink-haired idol?

I somehow read this entire story within the span of almost one full plane ride. It’s so incredibly wholesome and fun, and full of all the cute Kpop cliches.

Elena sometimes annoyed me with how quickly she shut down Robbie, and her refusal to communicate properly, but I liked her for the most part. She feels overshadowed by all of her siblings and just wants to make her Korean mom proud. I loved seeing her passion for helping people, specifically those in the community center. Even better, she has great female friendships that aren’t toxic in any way.
This did touch on some of the rougher aspects of the industry, such as the terrible attitude towards Korean idols and dating, as well as the concept of an artist’s freedom with their music. So I really appreciated that!

AND THE ROMANCE!!! It was so cute!!! I mean, it relied a little too much on miscommunication for my tastes but it was super sweet for the most part. It also had the benefit of being supported by hilarious banter from Robbie’s bandmates so yeah.

I enjoyed the glitz, the glamour, and the insanity of Kpop. But I also really enjoyed the smaller, sweet moments between Robbie and Elena that really helped make their relationship feel organic. I just wish that miscommunication hadn’t gotten in the way so much, because it truly did make the story feel a bit repetitive.
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This was such a cute book! I am a BTS fan and have several k-pop fans at the library so this will be a must purchase for them. Fluffy, fun, and with great banter between the boys. Cho’s writing is always so fun, thank you so much for the arc.
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It should go over well with the target demographic.  Cute story and sweet premise.

Thank you to NetGalley and Disney for the ARC.
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I liked that the premise of this book was a bit more believable than some of the other recent popular normal girl + kpop megastar romances. In this case, they actually were friends and knew each other before all of the kpop fandom started, so I could get more into it without having to totally suspend all disbelief and willfully shut my brain off to some of the more ridiculous stretches to validate scenarios. That was an extremely long sentence!

Unsurprisingly, this was a pretty light read. Considering the characters are 17-18 years old, sometimes they didn't really read that way. I felt like they were more 14-16 until something happened to remind me. Their emotional maturity wasn't always at it's peak, but I *did* very much appreciate that it didn't lean on a conflict that could be solved by just talking with the person as so many novels do. There was a smidge of that, and I certainly was yelling in my head the whole time, but it resolved fairly quickly with the character acknowledging that they were being a full idiot. So I can forgive it.

I didn't expect to get two perspectives in this story! So heads up on that, because it does switch between the two main characters. Elena definitely gets more of the story, but Robbie comes in every now and then with his side of things, and I think that kept me feeling in the loop and sympathetic. You always gotta know the other side of the story, right? That kept it from feeling anything like an enemies-to-lovers story, which is a direction it could have gone.

And yes, there's a k-pop concert scene to get all hyped about. ^.^

Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Publishing for a free advanced copy of this book. This is my honest review!
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Once Upon a K-Prom is a super cute romantic comedy featuring a high schooler and her old childhood friend who is now part of a popular K-pop band. 

I really enjoyed this book! Elena and Robbie are super cute together, and I liked the journey their relationship went on, as the book begins with them not being in contact for several years and Elena being very upset about that. I'm glad that we had chapters from Robbie's viewpoint as well as Elena, because at first I had trouble understanding Robbie, but once we got in his head his actions made much more sense. 

The family dynamics that Elena had to deal with at home were very authentic struggles that a lot of girls face, and I felt that they book explored familial expectations well. The book started a bit slow, but once it got going it was a quick and satisfying read. 

Overall this was a cute romantic comedy, with themes of coming of age.
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Elena Soo loves her community center so much.  She would do anything to save it.  In fact she is currently running a campaign to help raise money at her school in hopes that the students will realize how wasteful prom actually can be.  If only students would take the money they were planning on spending for prom and donate it to the community center she knows that they would be able to save it.  Unsurprisingly the student body is not quite behind this idea.  Yet when a promise made when Elena was 10 years old brings an old friend back into Elena's life the school and Elena are rocked to the core.  Can Elena set aside 7 years of disappointment and welcome Robbie back into her life?  Why really did Robbie come back into her life?  Most importantly is there a spark between Elena and Robbie and what does that mean for their future?

I really enjoyed this book.  There are a couple of twist and turns, that make reading this book quite a joy.  Elena and Robbie really are well developed characters and you really get to know them in a way that makes you invested in their lives.  I truly enjoy that Robbie's point of view is also mixed into the story as well.  I love when authors give us both standpoints.  I think it really adds a lot to the context of the story and lets the readers see things from both points of view.

Thank you so much to Disney Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book.
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Once Upon a K-Prom is a spin on the “ordinary girl meets famous boy” YA story, incorporating the recent global success of K-Pop. Elena Soo’s childhood best friend Robbie Choi moved home to Korea when they were both ten. While Elena feels adrift, without anything to make her special, Robbie became a K-Pop idol. And not just a mere idol: Robbie’s group WDB (think BTS) is THE bestselling international K-Pop boy band. So when Robbie turns up to honor their childhood pledge to attend prom together, Elena feels out of her depth.

What works in this book

making Elena and Robbie former best friends, instead of writing a contrived meeting between ordinary-Elena and famous-Robbie.
Incorporating Korean culture. For instance, the local older Koreans are proud of Robbie for becoming famous, but especially for him becoming famous as a global representative of Korea. The band’s music incorporates Korean instruments, and the performers are multilingual. The band’s name is WDB, and the author explains:

WDB stood for 원더별, which meant “Wonder Star” but it was pronounced “Wondeo Byul” … [a] mix of English and Korean so it sounded like “Wonderful.”

This effective representation of the culture of diaspora Koreans and the naming conventions of K-Pop segues nicely into…

The author clearly knows her K-Pop, from its dating bans to its brutal training process and realistically includes social media and fandom culture in Elena and Robbie’s spotlight relationship.
Elena is not A Brilliant Teen Artist or one of the other exceptionalities often put on YA heroines. In fact, her big struggle is not being able to find an activity or a belief in which to anchor her identity, having started and abandoned dozens of hobbies. (I would have been even more interested if this book had explored the possibility that Elena has undiagnosed ADHD).

What doesn’t work:

Elena has a weird abandonment fixation around people doing completely normal things, like going to college or relocating for a promotion. The latter is even more bewildering because she isn’t portrayed as that close to the person relocating until the relocation happens.
Elena’s parents treat her unequally compared with her twin, the only boy in the family. The resolution of this occurs only between Elena and her brother (and frankly he gets off too easily); there is no resolution with her parents
There’s a Big Mis around Robbie’s interest in Elena, and once you find out about it, you are just marking time until Elena finds out and triggers the Tragic Separation. This is by far the worst problem, which completely squished my reading momentum in the last third of the book.

I do love Korean stories and Asian diaspora stories. For the intended audience of YA readers who aren’t as tired of the predictable Big Mis last-act climax structure as I am, Once Upon a K-Prom will probably be a successful read. For me, though, while the book caught my attention, it didn’t hold it.

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This was a really fun, tropey, romance—a great take on the celebrity romance, with the added layers of childhood best friends (/soulmates...). The pacing was quick, and it was a really easy, fun read!
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: More like a 3.5

I love the hearts detail at the beginning of each chapter.

Elena feels like a teenager, which makes me very much annoyed by her. I don’t want to fault the book for this and I’m not going to. I have to be reminded often that teenagers in YA don’t have the foresight that their adult writer’s now (nor that they exist in a book).

The plot relies on miscommunication, even when the love interest knows that communication is a big deal to the protagonist.
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I am a huge k=pop fan, so I am so happy I got a chance to read an early copy of this book! I appreciated the dual perspective; I think if the entire book had been from Elena's point of view, it would have been less interesting and dynamic. I do wish Elena had better character development though; many times where she could have shown slight development she kept repeating her same thought process, until suddenly at the end when she went through a bigger internal transformation. It felt like an on/off switch rather than a more natural arc. I also wish we had gotten more of her relationships with some of the side characters, especially her family members. All that being said, all the k-pop elements were on point and the resolution had me in tears, so I definitely liked it! I will recommend it to any k-pop fan for sure.
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I enjoyed Elena's character, she was so passionate about the community center and trying to prove to her fellow classmates that it was worth saving. I will be honest I think I had high expectations for this book and was a little underwhelmed with it. I am a mood reader so that could have very well been the reason why I felt like that. Overall it was a cute story to read and I loved the setting! I love K- drama's so reading this was a little taste of that. To me I saw this book as a fan fiction story of the group BTS.
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This was so cute! I loved being emerged yet again with dreamy kpop idols, high school dramas and reunions of childhood friends!

Robbie and Elena were best friends during their childhood before Robbie’s family moved back to Korea. Elena watched as Robbie grew up and gained the public’s attention both in Korea and the world, as the maknae of a famous kpop group. He kept their childhood promise of coming back and asking her to prom- and yes the sparks from their childhood were still there!! 

What a dreamy little YA book, I really enjoyed the growth of Elena and felt that she started to recognize her own insecurities by the end of the book and maybe it was possible to have a relationship with Robbie, her twin Ethan, and other people in her life and could stop being afraid that everyone would leave her. 

I can’t wait for more kpop themed YA novels, this one did not disappoint! Can’t wait for it to be published!
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Well this was just delightful! Elena hates prom (except she doesn’t) and she definitely doesn’t miss her childhood best friend (she does). When Robbie, said childhood best friend, “promposals” her, she’s thrust into his world of international K-pop fame and the drama that comes with it. I really liked this book, I loved Elena and her family and all the inner workings of Robbie’s career. It’s fun and tropey and just the right amount of emotional, plus it’s got a beautiful cover! I’m adding Kat Cho’s previous novels to my TBR can’t wait to see what she does next!

Thank you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a preview copy of this title. 

I have to admit that as a teacher-librarian in a high school library I love when students gush over titles with me.  I have a feeling that Once Upon a K-Prom will be one of those titles that students gush over.  This book has a very relatable main character Elena Soo, who feels invisible, has former friends who are current enemies, and feels like everyone leaves. Pretty much sums up high school for so many.  

Then her former friend Robbie Choi who moved to Seoul when they were ten returns, but now he is a K-Pop idol who wants to take Elena to prom based on a childhood promise.  But Elena is actively against prom as she and her Awareness Club seek to persuade her classmates to spend less on prom and donate to the local community center in danger of shutting down.  This goes over as well as you can imagine.

This lovely rom-com features tropes well done. It's a will they or won't they with a does of growth for the characters.

I feel like teens relate to the characters--even the K-Pop idol who has a way different life, but I think the overly managed and controlled life he experiences will resonate with teens longing for more independence.

Recommend!
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Given my experience with Cho's previous books, I really wanted to love this one but found myself unable to. I think if she'd aged the characters up a bit the love story might've worked. For me, it was hard to buy into. I also couldn't get myself to root for the main female character. She was a tad unlikeable. Still, there were some cute moments and as a K-pop fan I really appreciated some aspects of it.
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When I heard this book had Kpop elements in it, I immediately had to read it and it delivered on all fronts! 

I've read a lot of young adult books with Kpop as one of the focuses and I have to say that this book managed to do something completely new and it was so great to see, I really enjoyed it and it was such a fun read! 

This book wasn't just about Kpop though, it was so much more. It was really a love story between two people who had known each other for years and it was so great to see them come back together now that they are different people. Seeing them work out what went wrong before and grow together made the ending so wonderful and sweet. This book was honestly full of heart all around, the love the main character has for her community was my absolute favorite part and I'm so happy it all worked out for them! 

Overall, this was a feel good book full of heart and I loved it so much!
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What’s it like to have your childhood best friend become one of K-Pop’s biggest stars? To have him surprise you with a visit, in the hopes of fulfilling a childhood promise? to have to learn what it’s like to become immersed in the life of a popstar? That’s what Elana has to do in this fun rom-com romp. She has to come to terms with the fact that people leaving doesn’t mean they are leaving you. Sometimes people have to do things they’ don’t want to do because its supposedly for the best intentions. That you aren’t invisible, that those around you really do see you. A sweet story that deep dives into the life of a KPop star and the girl he left behind.
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𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘴, 𝘮𝘰𝘰𝘯𝘴, 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨... 

𝘖𝘕𝘊𝘌 𝘜𝘗𝘖𝘕 𝘈 𝘒-𝘗𝘙𝘖𝘔 centers Elena, a Korean-American teen, as she struggles to collect funds to help keep her local community centre afloat, all the while reconnecting with her estranged best friend from her childhood who's now a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands.
Perfect for fans of Axie Oh's 'XOXO'!
- ~ - 

Firstly, I flew through the pages in less than a day, which says much about how the author skillfully crafted a plotline that made me yearn for more! 

The story gives an insight into the hectic lives of k-pop artists, the way every aspect of their life is controlled and how that affects their private lives; in our case it follows Robbie Choi, the maknae or the youngest member of the biggest K-pop acts of recent history: WDB! 

The band was defo inspired by BTS so I assume even if one doesn't know much about Korean culture, they'll be able to relate atleast on a superficial level, but if you are as infatuated with Korean everything as me then this book is definitely for you!  

We're blessed with mentions of different Korean snacks and it gave me a chance to practice my teensy bit of Korean language knowledge with a few words thrown here and there, but most importantly we have the classic "it's-beautiful-but-he's-not-talking-about-the-view" tropes from practically all romance K-drama! 

- ~ - 

Now as for Elena, I cannot emphasize enough on how we neeeeed more socially awkward characters! But let's be real, not the kind from movies, I mean the real ones who get nervous but are not shy to stand for what's right! 
Similarly, our Elena might be soft but don't mistake it as her being oblivious! She's strong, independent and knows what she's worth. 

The story also features several secondary characters who were all quite fun to read. All members of WDB added a certain charm to the plot and some others were wise for their age, especially Sooyeon! And her friendship with Elena - and also Elena's relationship with her twin - shows some much needed character development. 

- ~ -

One thing I have to address though is that while Robbie's pov was appreciated, I do wish they weren't added so randomly and maintained consistency, especially with regard to how they were written in third person. 

- ~ - 

Overall: A fun story with witty characters and adorable chemistry, sure to make you swoon or maybe cry with regards to how relatable the issues our characters face are!
I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did or more It's out 5/17! 

4.27 / 5✩ 

𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘯𝘦𝘺 𝘗𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘞𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥𝘸𝘪𝘥𝘦 & 𝘕𝘦𝘵𝘨𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬, 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘐 𝘷𝘰𝘭𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 & 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸𝘦𝘥. 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘸𝘯.
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