Cover Image: Fireworks

Fireworks

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 
Fireworks is a generally cute YA romance with a fun premise of reconnecting and falling in love with your best friend, who happens to be a KPop idol. Given what a phenomenon Kpop is becoming, I’m not surprised we’re seeing more books where one of the leads is involved in the industry. But having heard a little about the dark side of it, from the intense expectations imposed by management to the intensity of the fanbases for certain groups, I appreciate how Alice Lin unpacks and critiques it through her story with the assumptions around Kite (real name: Kai) and his break from his group and the spotlight. 
Lulu and Kai’s relationship is complicated because of everything that’s changed. Obviously, he’s now a famous pop star, dealing with a lot of scrutiny. And Lulu’s parents split up, and her dad barely seems to get to make an effort with her. And they also have to figure out if they even have a future beyond the summer, since Kai will eventually have to go back to his career. 
I kind of wish there had been more effort made into setting Lulu apart from the fangirls, given their shared history. However, I can understand that she could feel a bit susceptible to the allure of KPop fame, while also recognizing him as more, because of that history. 
This book is cute and fun, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys KPop and the fantasy of dating an idol.
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This was quick, cute, and fun (YA) summer read!

Childhood friends reunite for summer when one needs to take a break from his famous life. While the ending felt a little rushed/unresolved, you can’t help but root for Lulu and Kite!

Thank you NetGalley, Random House Children's, and Underlined for this early release!
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One of the many things I love about reading YA is that you never know what you’re going to get! YA has a huge spectrum of books. You have your more romance heavy novels but then you have books like this that build on the lighter side. Books that remind you of the sweet first love, the books that remind you of your first crush and the dreams we had of them reciprocating! 

Kite and LuLu have been friends for years but after his rise to K-POP fame they lose tough! All it took was one summer, one kiss and now LuLu and Kite have a lot to figure out before their time reunited is up! 

While this books was a light romantic read topics like divorce, bisexuality, and family are brought up but the author did an amazing job on these topics! It was a very well written book. 

This book really had me nostalgic and I loved the characters and it’s heavily one of the main reasons I am rating this a 5!
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This was such a sweet read. It was so easy to relate to the loss of a childhood friendship thanks to miscommunication and just growing into different people in general. This was a quick and easy read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a nice clean YA read. 
I loved how it addressed the stress people who are in the spot light feel., the gentle look into how mental health can be subtle but still feel so overwhelming.
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Very cute YA contemporary about when the boy next door becomes a K-pop star in another country and then comes home for the summer. Childhood best friends and neighbors, Lulu and Kite have not seen each other since the end of eighth grade. Kite is now firmly established as a member of a K-pop group and Lulu and her friends just graduated from high school. I enjoyed watching as they caught up on all the things they missed over their years apart, and how their friendship turns into something more, slowly and sweetly.
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I don't know if it's just the time of year but I struggled to get into this book.  I loved the write up but couldn't get invested.  Again, it might just be the time of year for me.
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“Fireworks” is the debut novel by Alice Lin that follows seventeen year old Lulu Li as she graduates high school and prepares to have an amazing summer with her friends before they all go to college. Lulu’s plans are put on hold when her neighbor and childhood best friend comes home to visit for the first time in four years. The reason he has been gone? He is an international K-pop star in the boy group, Karnival. Now Lulu is star-struck and trying to fight feelings for her famous best friend. 

This was so cute and fun. I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary anymore but I do still enjoy the light hearted romances. I really like the trope of one of the characters in the couple being a celebrity. I read Axie Oh’s book “XOXO” last month and it was a similar situation so if you enjoyed that book, I think you would like this one. I liked how it kind of subverted the trope a bit by the celebrity being a childhood best friend. It helps to build the relationship with the characters because they have a past. 

This book had a lot of representation in it that I really liked. I picked this book up for AAPI Heritage month as I am trying to make an effort to read a bit more diversely and this month is the perfect time to do that. I really loved how while the main cast was completely made up of Asian characters, the author made a point to say that they were all from different countries with unique cultures. I feel like in a lot of books, a character being “Asian” doesn’t have a lot of meaning behind it whereas in this book, they were very nuanced. 

I could talk for hours about the different kinds of food mentioned in this book. Like I don’t even know what yellow pickles are but I was craving them while I read this book. Like seriously, don’t read this book on an empty stomach. You will get hungry. 

There was also some subtle bisexual representation in this book which I really loved. It was very organic in the way character’s brought up their sexuality, as it should be. Not every book with LGBT+ representation needs to make it a huge conversation. I enjoy the quiet acceptance of people just loving who they want to love without it being a big deal. 

This book was really great and fun but it’s a four star for me because though I really enjoyed the romance, I wasn’t obsessed with it. I wish there would have been a bit more pining. Kite as a love interest was so precious but I just wanted a little more. 

All in all, I would recommend this to anyone who wants a cute, summery romance with a bit of hijinks, K-pop stans, and a lot of food references. The fact that I don’t love anywhere close to a traditional Korean restaurant is tragic.
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Book received for free through NetGalley 

An adorably cute young adult romance. I fell in love with the characters and end the book cheering them on. Would love to continue the story but it was also a good place to end it.
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I've been wanting to read a book that gave me a more modern day Sarah Dessen vibe for a while and this one did! (Sorry Sarah, but you've been replaced). This was so lovely and had the right amount of, well, everything. A wonderful summer read.
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Lulu is the girl next store to K-Pop idol Kai, whose stage name is Kite. She hasn't seen him in four years, since Kai left their New Jersey town in middle school to pursue his dream in South Korea. Both families are Chinese, and all of the characters are East Asian, though I think only the offstage idols are Korean. No judgment there, just observing what a worldwide phenomenon K-Pop is, and with a fierce fandom. The book is named for Kite's band, Karnival's fan community, the Fireworks, who flip out when it's announced that Kite is taking a break for health reasons. While the Fireworks assume Kite is still in Korea, he's actually hiding out in his childhood bedroom, spending time with his childhood best friend. 

Of course neither Lulu nor Kai is exactly a child anymore, and the plot is a will-they-or-won't-they story. All of the characters are likable. Kai, or Kite, as Lulu calls him, suffers a bit of the perfect-YA-boyfriend syndrome, but that's the convention, so whatever. I think K-Pop YA is especially appealing because some of the world building is already done, in that it has such an established culture. 

PS Author Lin is a librarian, and one of the characters attends college at MPOW.
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This book really reminded me of another book that I just read about reunited best friends who fall for each other. Seoulmates by Susan Lee. I honestly think that this book was a very cute story but really didn't deliver any excitement that I was hoping for. I don't feel any real connection between Kai and Lulu. Even the ending left me feeling very lost and with no resolve. I think with more work that this could have been awesome.
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Very cute YA KDrama/Kpop romance. It’s a lovely childhood friends to dating story. This is definitely on the younger side of YA but it was an enjoyable read. I found some of the drama to be a little over the top but once I remembered the age of the characters it felt in line with their maturity levels. I really loved the main character Lulu, she was a very well thought out character. 

I’d recommend this to the 13-18 age range and any adults over 18 who enjoy younger YA novels. 

Thank you to netgalley for my copy in exchange for my honest review.
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This is really more of a 2.5 for me, 2 stars seems too low, but 3 is too high. For someone who is not a K-pop fan, it was hard to follow some of the lingo with no context. The flow was choppy and the narrative a little lacking. The ending was very unsatisfying. Overall, it was totally fine, a light read and cute, but nothing super memorable
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a perfectly cute, harmless rom-com. it didn't provide anything new to the genre, but wasn't in any way offensive; it was quite enjoyable!
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A sweet story that despite a few hiccups, is a cute romcom. The ONLY thing I would critique is the types of AP exams they take as seniors since several of those tests are completed during sophomore or junior year of high school. BUT that is me being unnecessarily particular to an otherwise great read. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Overall, this was a quick read and a really cute story. There are themes of friendship, love, relationships, and the pressures of fame. I know NOTHING of K-pop, and I learned a ton about the fandom culture from this book-really fascinating. I absolutely ADORED the main characters-they were so fun and well written-really enjoyable to read. However, the whole story seemed a bit lacking and anti-climactic. As cute as this story was, I really felt like it needed a bit more substance.

I was given an ARC of this book by NetGalley and Random House Children’s. All opinions are my own.
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Well, I liked K-Pop angsty drama theme with romcom vibes! Pop star meets ordinary girl next door that rekindles their unresolved feelings give us gender versed Notting Hill vibes with well approached representation of bisexuality of MC! 

  The romance between Lulu and Kite adorable. The realistic approach to chaotic side effects of fame, repercussions of trying to be star at demanding and competitive K-Pop industry were perfectly developed.

  I was so close to give five stars after reading the first half but when I started to read the rest, I got so agitated because things started spiraling out of control and extra messy! It seemed like another author sat down in front of the computer to finish the rest of the book or the same author’s dark side took control and threw as much as angst she could to disturb us!

  I don’t know the main reasoning but I didn’t like the sudden turn of events. So I’m giving my three solid stars just because of its promising first half and likable characters! 

  I wish the second could be rewritten! The entire drama could be handled better without too much exaggeration! 

So many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
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Any book that mentions K-pop I end up reading, lol. It’s a keyword that really gets my attention. I have thoroughly enjoyed books with the topic and then there have been others that have felt flat for me in certain areas. This particular book was kind of a mixed-bag. The first half was very enjoyable and I liked where the story was going. The second half felt a bit muddled and nothing really progressed very far with the relationship/romance.

The book is told from Lulu’s perspective. She grew up next to a boy who was a friend and eventually tries his luck at joining a K-pop group. Friends-to-lovers isn’t always my thing but I am down for a celebrity relationship any day. I liked that even though he was famous he didn’t let it go to his head. He was still very down-to-earth and took care of this stray cat. Cats are the best and he is a cinnamon roll for doing that.

Their interactions from the beginning were slow and even though they eventually started to hang out more I didn’t feel like their relationship ever picked up. It kind of stayed in neutral and didn’t have me feeling any particular way. The author also tried to put another hurdle in their relationship at the end and by end I mean at around 94% or so. It made the ending feel rushed and incomplete for me even if they resolved in not so many words.

The majority of the book focuses on the pressure that can come with being in a group. It is taxing and can really wear down on someone’s mental health. I did like the talk that surrounded the subject. I feel like most books with a K-pop group miss out on this dialogue because they don’t usually go into the detail this one has, especially with the intense fans. Both Kite and Lulu handled it well and it makes them stronger.

Overall, this was good but it just didn’t a bit more in certain areas.
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Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the arc and for satisfying my fluffy K-pop-inspired needs.

Reasons to read: well, if you've ever fantasized about your childhood coming back home as a K-pop idol, this is for me...I mean, you. >_>

Lulu has everything figured out for the summer, but her plans go awry when her former friend and international K-pop idol comes home after taking a break from music. Kite (Kai's stage name) has to stay in hiding when he's home since he's afraid of uber-fans swarming his house (again) and tags along with Lulu and her friends while in disguise (super funny btw) Lulu doesn't want to get too deep into her friendship with Kite, but we all know how things go when you're friends with a hot Korean idol, right? 

Sigh.

The story is similar to another arc I recently read except this one is an idol and not a K-drama star, but it also had a depth I did not expect. We don't know what happened for Kite to come back to the States and that mystery is what kept me HOOKED to the story. There are so many layers to the characters and their chaotic lives. 

The ending did leave a lot to be desired. IMO there wasn't any real closure to Lulu or Kite's problems BUT it succeeded in me stalking the internet looking for the sequel within the next year or two. There is a lot of content to be played with. I'm excited to see how Kite deals with the aftermath of his issues, as well as Lulu and college. If there's no sequel, I will riot.
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A childhood friend turned k-pop star has returned home and now seventeen-year old Lulu Li is about to get an unexpected summer. Her childhood friend turned famous Kpop star is returning home. It’s been years since they spoke and drifted apart but now he’s back and her summer is about to get interesting. Lulu and Kite haven’t seen each other since eighth grade and now she’s graduating highschool. Lulu and Kai ( stage named Kite) have to restart their friendship and reconnect, finding who they are now with who they were and if the friendship between them is still there.. and if there is a chance for more. On top of that there is drama with Lulu’s father who cheated on her mother and with Kai’s sudden return being more than just simply a medical leave and the drama and chaos of k-pop fans. This is the second k-pop romance book I’ve read this month and while it was sweet and cute there were some parts I found a bit meh, the first one being that Lulu called her childhood friend whom she’s known by his stage name. making it seem like she still idolizes him as an idol rather than calling him by his regular name... like an actual person and as someone who’s known him, the second was the ending and resolution of this book, it felt lacking and so open ended, it felt like there should have been another epilogue or a bonus chapter with more resolution to their relationship and to what was going to happen in their future. Overall it was a sweet read and the friendship to lovers trope was cute in this. Lulu and Kai made an adorable couple and had sweet and caring moments with each other. 

*Thanks Netgalley and Random House Children's, Underlined for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
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