reading the description I thought this would be a new fav. I was so excited for childhood friends to strangers to lovers and the comaprison to XO, Kitty. I did enjoy the many mentions of representation in this book and it was a cute read but it just wasn't very memorable to me. I had a good time reading it but it's a book that I probably won't thunk about often after writing this.
Kpop star books have become more common in recent years, I think I've personally read four in the past year - not including this one! I think on a scale, this would be right in the middle of all of them.
The book covers all of the typical plot points that kpop romances have - bad work/life balance, a hesitant romance, industry issues, costars and coworkers, and a huge blowup that happens because one mc is famous and the other isn't. They're pretty formulaic in that sense but it's definitely not a negative because white authors can get away with writing the same story 1000+ times before we get bored. I liked it, I just didn't love it. The second half of the novel could have been better handled, and without spoiling the end, it just felt too...sudden? Abrupt?
What a cute little summer romance! This is perfect for fans of Morgan Matson or Jenny Han. The story will progress exactly how you expect and want it to yet you'll be completely wrapped up no matter what. I think there's an added appeal for K-Pop fans (something of which I don't care at all) since one of the main characters is a K-Pop singer.
I personally wanted a bit more from Lulu's relationship with Kite (calling him by his stage name throughout the whole book even though they are good friends? weird). I also felt the pacing of this book left a lot to be desired. This book could have used some better editing.
K-Pop will now forever hold a special place in my heart! This was a refreshing, fun, and sweetest books I have read in awhile! Lulu Li is getting set to go to college but things change when her childhood bestie comes back in town. Not only was he her bestie, he is now one of the most famous K-Pop artist, but even though time has elapsed, he's still her Kite. This was an easy read and had good representation of characters, their flaws and strengths. I found it very enduring of the love of animals shown in this book too! I would absolutely recommend this book.
Fireworks by Alice Lin
This is Lulu’s last summer before going to college and she has it all planned out. Till she learns that her childhood friend Kite is unexpectedly coming home for the summer as well. She hasn’t seen him in years, not since he left for South Korea to join a K-pop group. And now she kind of has a crush on him.
What I liked:
-I don’t know a whole lot about K-pop, so I enjoyed learning more about it.
-I loved when Lulu’s friend teased her, they were a fun group and made me laugh a lot.
-I did the audio and everytime they said the name of her mom’s restaurant I snickered and shook my head.
3⭐️⭐️⭐️ I liked this one but didn’t love it. I’m not sure what would have made me love this book more.
"Fireworks" by Alice Lin is a delightful and humorous young adult novel that combines themes of romance, friendship, and the unpredictable twists of teenage life. Lin's storytelling wit shines as she crafts a tale of unexpected adventures, comedic mishaps, and the complexities of navigating relationships. The book's relatable characters and lighthearted plot create an engaging reading experience that resonates with teens and young adults. Lin skillfully explores the emotions of first love, personal growth, and the ups and downs of adolescence, adding depth to the narrative. "Fireworks" is a charming reminder that life's most memorable moments often arise when least expected, leaving readers with a sense of laughter and a renewed appreciation for the joy and spontaneity that come with embracing the unpredictable journey of youth.
I'm so sad I couldn't love this one. I am not sure if it was the age group and I couldn't get invested. I ended up DNF this one and I chose not to post anything on my socials as to not sway readers. I feel like what wasn't for me can definitely be for others.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.
This was a really sweet, heartwarming story of romance with a K-pop star, and it didn't shy away from the intense parts of fandom or the challenges of stardom.
Fireworks is a YA K-pop romcom by Alice Lin. Released 7th June 2022 by Penguin Random House on their Children's imprint, it's 320 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is an engaging and well written role reversed teenaged Notting Hill redux. There's lots of angst and feelings and a diverting young romance. It's aimed at a young audience (circa 12-17 years old, presumably female) and despite the page count is a very quick read. Lots of info about K-pop and the music fandom included for verisimilitude.
It's not clear from any publisher promotional materials provided for review if the author plans a follow-up book. If the story isn't to be continued, readers might want to be aware that the ending is abrupt and there's no epilogue or clear resolution in the advance copy provided. Good story, precipitate ending.
Three and a half stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
Lately, my brain has only been able to handle romance or lighter books; when my audiobook hold came available for FIREWORKS by Alice Lin (one of my #Netgalley backlists - whoops!), I figured my kerfuffled brain might enjoy YA romance might right now as well. 🧠
FIREWORKS would be a great read for those that enjoy friends-to-lovers, K-pop drama, and sweet YA stories. Lulu and Kite were best friends growing up - until he moved away and started an international K-pop career and starring in the hottest new boy group, Carnival. However, when we mysteriously shows up back home, can they pick up their friendship?
This was just such a sweet book - and, while it was my first foray into K-pop, it did such a good job at tackling issues surrounding mental health, fandom, and fame. There are fun side characters, some family drama, and some cultural education!
I'm always in for a book that has a k-pop premise, but I feel like we didn't get a whole lot of interaction between the two main characters. The conflicts weren't also strong enough for me to be truly invested, but whatever romance we got I enjoyed reading.
I have really been enjoying these books that dip into the k-pop world, despite not actually listening to k-pop. There's something fun about feeling behind the scenes, and this book satisfies some of that feeling.
If you liked Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho or XOXO by Axie Oh, you are going to devour Fireworks by Alice Lin.
The protagonist, Lulu Li has her whole summer planned out before she and her friends go away to college, but her plans are disrupted when her neighbor, Kai, now a K-Pop star with the group Karnaval secretly comes home to "rest and recover." Kai and Lulu were best friends but when he was whisked away in 8th grade to South Korea to become a singer and songwriter in the K-Pop factory, he has not tried to contact Lulu in four years, so their relationship is awkward and non existent.
Except that there is a neighborhood cat that plays his own version of Shakespeare's Puck, both narrator and trickster at the same time.
What I appreciated in this romcom is that the characters are Chinese American, even if Kai or Kite is a K-Pop star. In other words, not all Asians are the same and many Asian Americans keep their food traditions alive but not their langugage.
What I am lukewarm about is that Ms. Lin inserted an LGBTQ+ main character because Lulu is bi. Now if there were a love triangle, that would be one thing, but without it, the fact that Lulu is bi just feels like a way to check off another diversity box. It does not add to the story or make it more interesting because it seems like a throwaway fact.
The mental health and extreme fan behavior are much more interesting so I like that Lin included that. Either way, read it.
From the Publisher:
Seventeen-year-old Lulu Li has her last summer before college all planned out. But her plans go awry when she learns that Kite Xu, her old next-door neighbor and childhood friend, will be returning home from South Korea.
Lulu hasn’t seen Kite since eighth grade, after he left the country to pursue a career in K-pop, eventually debuting in the boy group Karnival. When Karnival announces that Kite will be taking a break from K-pop activities for mysterious reasons, the opportunity to rekindle their friendship arises.
Star-struck and nostalgic, Lulu tries to reconnect with Kite. As they continue to bond and reminisce over the past, Kite’s sister, Connie, warns Lulu not to get too close to her brother. The harder Lulu tries to deny her feelings, the stronger they get. But how could a K-pop star ever fall for a nobody from home? And even if he did, is there any way for their relationship to end but badly?
Author: Alice Lin
Publication date: June 7, 2022
Such a cute book for k-pop fans. I would love to have this in my school library because so many students would really enjoy this sweet book.
I really thought I would love this book more than I did - so many tropes that I'm drawn to in one YA novel, it seemed like a recipe for success. But I left the book feeling dissatisfied and couldn't identify exactly why. Tropes include famous person/normal person and childhood friends to lovers. It's more of a long lost childhood friends as the MMC went to Korea to become a Kpop star and has recently returned to his childhood home - next door to our FMC.
I think the major issue I took with this book was that I didn't buy the romance. It was very understated and there wasn't any background given to provide evidence that the two characters held a torch for each other for years. There was also none of the tension that I normally associate with YA contemporary romances and look for.
Some positives were the Kpop and Korean representation, the struggle the FMC had with her bio father and his new family, the mental health concerns our MMC dealt with, and the LGBTQ representation.
**Thank you to Underlined and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review**
Thank you to @netgalley and @randomhouse for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to @prhaudio for a free download of the audiobook.
At a young age Kite Xu left his family to join a K-pop group in South Korea. He’s taking a break and has returned home, causing a disruption to his neighbor Lulu’s summer before heading off to college.
While Kite’s return home needs to be kept secret, this gave Lulu the opportunity to get reacquainted with Kite and learn why he’s really taking a break. She learns that life isn’t as great as Karnival’s social media pages seem. Feelings begin to develop as they go around San Francisco in disguises. Kite starts to relax and work through his part of the issues until a video of him punching the lead singer is released…then he is spotted taking his cat to the vet after being hit by a car. Kite has to go into hiding with Lulu and her friends.
I loved the characters, all the K-pop references, the friendships, and the romance. An epilogue would have been nice to better wrap things up based on the events of the last few chapters. If you love YA and the childhood friends-to-lovers trope, I recommend this book.
Fireworks is the newest addition to KPop infused fiction for Teens. A light and fun Rom-Com about childhood friends who reunite and fall for each other. Give this to fans of XOXO and I'll be the One.
I don’t remember where I saw this book. I think that I was scrolling through Netgalley when I can across it. I am a sucker for K-Pop. I enjoy listening to it and I love K-Pop romance books. I thoroughly enjoy them. So when I saw this one I knew that I needed to request it. I was excited when I eventually got approval confirmation for it.
Lulu is a huge fan of K-Pop, specifically Karnival. Her old best friend and neighbor is a singer in that boy band. She is blown away when she finds out that her friend Kai/Kite is coming home for some medical rest. She runs into him one night when out for a late-night walk. They seemingly pick up right where they left off 4 years prior. Except for this time sparks seem to fly between them. While I really enjoyed this book it felt like a massive soap opera for YA. It was the constant will they won’t they but the main character is bi, which I don’t really understand how that plays into the story but it apparently does, somehow I still haven’t figured it out yet. I did love the idea of the book. Drama happens with a K-Pop group and he moves back home and falls for his old friend. It just needed to be written a little differently. There was just too much hesitation and stuff like that from Lulu’s side, and that just got on my nerves.
Lulu’s two best friends were funny and kind of gave the book some comic relief. However, their K-pop obsession was a bit much. In that defense, I know that K-Pop fans are a little bit like that anyway. It just seemed exaggerated. At the end of the book, I really would have liked an epilogue of some sort. I needed to know if things worked out for them in the long run. Did Lulu get the study abroad that she wanted in Korea? Did things work out for Kite in his Karnival group? I needed more of a follow-up it just felt really rushed. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t think that it was the most amazing thing that I have read all month, it just was meh. It wasn’t the first K-Pop book I have read either so I am not exactly completely oblivious to the scene. Don’t read what I have said and not read this book, read it and make your own decision about it.
3.5/5 stars (rounded to 3)
I received an ARC of this book, and I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
Lulu has her last summer at home planned out. Before she heads to college, she wants to spend as much time with her friends as possible. But those plans go slightly awry when her childhood best friend returns home for the summer. Kai, now the kpop idol known as Kite, hasn't spoken to Lulu since his debut. The two start to spend more time together, leaving Lulu wondering what to do about her new feelings for him. After all, he's famous and she's just his old childhood friend. Not to mention, he'll return to Korea soon enough...
I enjoyed a lot of things about this book! Unfortunately, there were a few things that kept this from being a 5-star read for me.
The first half of this book was my favorite. I loved Lulu and her friends! They felt authentic, and I enjoyed their scenes together. Kite was also a likable character from the get-go, and his dynamic with Lulu was so cute!
The second half of this book was not quite as enjoyable for me. This book started out light-hearted, but the second part got heavier. While I appreciated the author's portrayal of the kpop industry, including its flaws, I wish we had more positive scenes before the rather abrupt ending. I also disagreed with the actions of a certain character towards the end, and it seemed somewhat out of character for them.
Overall, I loved the characters, all the kpop references, the friendships, and the romance. I do think this book could have definitely benefitted from an epilogue to better wrap things up, especially after the events of the last few chapters, but if you love YA kpop books and the childhood friends-to-lovers trope, you might really enjoy this!