I love K-Pop and I love Yellowjackets, so, unsurprisingly, I loved this. The horror is well done, especially for YA, and I appreciate the queer romance didn't hinge on any self-denial or internalized homophobia, as is so common for YA. I did expect this to be a standalone, and was surprised by the ending until I realized there was a sequel, which enabled the ending to feel more conclusive in terms of the larger progression of the story. I don't have many complaints; I thoroughly enjoyed this! (And the cover is beautiful!)
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.
Wow! This was one wild ride. The prologue started off with a bang, it was mysterious, devastating and utterly hooked me into the story. I really loved the characters Sunny, Candie, and Mina. So even when it was a little slow, it wasn’t boring. I liked getting to know more about the K-pop music industry and what it takes to become a pop star. The book took some very crazy turns that I wasn’t expecting but that I absolutely loved. This was a mixture of horror and sapphic romance. This was a mixture of so many things: folklore, cults, celebrity worship, and beauty obsession. I couldn’t stop reading because I was so invested in finding out what was happening (so many twists and secrets!). For horror fans, some truly gruesome, unsettling scenes would make for a very twisted horror movie. I really enjoyed reading this book and loved the main character Sunny a lot, even though she wasn’t necessarily always good and sometimes made poor choices, but it’s what made her more human to me.
I recommend this book to those who love sapphic horror novels, and although it is marketed as a YA, I feel like it can be a fun read even for adults.
*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Roaring Book Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
This was one of the more unique thrillers I have read in awhile and I loved it! As soon as I saw comps to Yellowjackets I knew I had to find out more about it. I really enjoyed how the characters were all very layered and complex, no one was truly evil but no one was fully innocent either. It felt very realistic for behavior of teenagers in a very cutthroat environment, so all of the motivation for their behavior and decisions made sense. The journey that Sunny faces regarding her sexuality and exploring that was very raw and real and I think will make a lot of readers feel seen.
I could tell that the author put a lot of passion and heart into this project and it really comes out on the page, especially in any conversation around K-pop! I'm eager for the next book in the series to come out!
I'm not entirely sure how to rate/review this book. I was very intrigued and invested in the story. I liked the main characters and felt like they were decently well developed. I loved the social commentary on the K-pop industry, beauty standards, fame and double standards. The horror aspects and eerieness were really well done. However, the end of the book felt somehow disconnected from the rest of the story, almost like I was reading two different books. I wasn't a super big fan of the direction the book turned. It's not that I wasn't interested in the end part...I think it just would have worked better if it had been explored in a different series. I did enjoy the writing style. I'm interested to see where the story goes in the next book. Readers that enjoy horror, social commentary or books about the music industry may enjoy this book.
Eh this book was ALRIGHT. The cover and the plot are what drew me in, but i honestly had to DNF mid way through because it just didn’t keep my interest.
I was excited for the premise of this speculative horror/thriller. It started off a little slowly but once it picked up I WAS INVESTED. I enjoyed reading about K-pop and Asian folklore, but at times the story got muddled. I like the ways that Cheng wrapped the story up. Overall, a solid read.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC.
Interesting concept, and I enjoyed the past/present POV switch and the supernatural element. I would have liked more build up and suspense, overall the story felt rushed.
Needless to say this was a book I didn't expect to end that way. I wasn't the biggest fan but loved the representation of queer and Asian identities.
🎤 was this a pure cover influence that promised a shocking scandal and some ghostly hauntings? Yep. And did I fall for that only to have this book cause me utter confusion for most of the time I was reading it (like, to the point that I honestly should have DNF’d this but pushed through it since a physical copy was gifted to me)?
🎤 This book follows Sunday aka Sunny, who have encountered a scandal during the highlight of her teen pop-star career, resulting in their group disbanding and her secluding herself away from everyone. That is until a new K-pop recruitment agency opens and she finds that her previous co-singer is applying, so she takes the jump to join her (even if she hasn’t talked to her in 2 years and the last time was when they lost the 3rd member of their group). Ok, so still following me? Because this is where things took a turn for me.
🎤basically, the one singer has these VERY strange divine gifts that have been passed down through generations, and she has the ability to control people; oh, but the goddess wants free and starts projecting and haunting all those around them until she starts to think she is losing it. And then the K-pop assignment was all a front to getting a bunch of girls as human sacrifices? Yep, that’s where this is where we ended up. Oh, but then we also thought that Sunny is bi (I believe…?), but it didn’t really fit in, and then there were so many characters that I was trying to keep track of; there was no real factor. I also just learned (as I finished this) that this is going to be a series, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing this since I’m not too sure where we are going to be going with the second one 🤷♀️
✨a creepy, culty, and bloody k-pop competition where girls will do whatever it takes to make it to the top✨
This book was the perfect blend of intense competition, friendship dynamics, and relationships complicated by strange rituals and unexplained deaths. I don’t wanna spoil it too much so I’ll leave it at that, but I can’t wait for the sequel!
I do wish some of the lore was explained in a bit more detail, though. I’m hoping we find out more in the next book!
Thanks NetGalley and Roaring Brook Press for this arc🎀🎬🎤
Eerily beautiful. This book will have you watch your back and to think twice about the things you may do and the people you may trust
This was SUCH an inventive, needed story—taking a thriller/horror spin on beauty standards and K-Pop is brilliant, and it was executed wonderfully. Was holding my breath and frantically turning the pages from start to finish!
This was a really good story that mixed pop culture stardom, along with horror, friendship, competition and societal beauty and social standards. I think anyone who is interested in the kpop world and the competitiveness that goes along with it, they'll most likely enjoy this. It takes a horror spin to it that is also really engaging. Highly recommend.
After a shocking scandal that abruptly ended her teen popstar career, 18 yrs old Sunny Lee spends her days longing for her former life and also cyberstaking her ex-BFF and bandmate Candie
Now Candie is chasing stardom in a new k-pop competition, and Sunny can't resist joining her and finally confront their traumatic history. As she can't figure out what happened that horrible night their third bandmate jumped to her death and whether the dark, otherworldly secrets they are keeping hidden has something to do with it
But when Sunny is haunted by terrifying visions, bodily harm even strange mutilations start happening to her competitors.
Read this awesome thriller to know the rest of the story.
Thriller is a genre that I quite enjoy reading and this book is a perfect fit for that genre. This book is like a rollercoaster ride that takes the reader to the darker side of the glittering k-pop world. We only see the glitz and the glamour of every industry whether it's film, music , fashion or any other industry but often behind that there is a dark, gloomy world that exists. The author has beautifully written about that in a thrilling narrative. The author beautifully switches the scenes between the past and the present where she shows the transformation of Sunny's character, from being a cheerful girl to a disheartened one.
The author has also nailed the spine chilling atmosphere that will keep the readers at the edge of their seats. The glory scenes are also gruesomely written and obviously not for the faint of heart. So, trigger warning is advisable.
So, overall it's an amazing, exciting and thrilling read. A perfect read for this cozy weather.
- GORGEOUS GRUESOME FACES is a YA thriller that combines K-pop glitter with Chinese mythology.
- I love a book that explores some of the traumas of fame, especially for young people, and that is woven into the larger supernatural mystery of this book.
- I didn't realize this book was the first in a series until I got to the end, and I'm excited to see where Cheng takes this next.
‘Gorgeous Gruesome Faces’ is a sapphic horror story set to a K-pop background. For once, the content of the book actually lives up to the gorgeous cover. There’s a K-pop aspect but it’s not so much that you’d need to know a lot of background going in. It’s very much a horror story, and a very well written one at that. I really enjoyed the plot and the characters, I really have no complaint other than I felt it was a bit short. This also appears to be a book 1 and if so I’m eager to read the sequel!
Thank you to NetGalley and Roaring Book Press for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
A strong debut! GORGEOUS GRUESOME FACES has a unique and compelling concept—a horror-tinged K-pop competition—that doesn't quite live up to its potential. The competition element felt somewhat removed from the heart of the story, which is the main characters' backstory and intense relationship with each other. The novel also contains a supernatural element which, again, showed a lot of potential but wasn't explored enough until the book's final sequence. Overall, GORGEOUS GRUESOME FACES is a good but not great start to this new series, and I'm excited to see what Linda Cheng does next.
She used to have it all. Money, fame, friends, power—everything a teen girl could dream of. All Sunny ever really cared for were her two bandmates and best friends, Candie and Mina. But after one too many disagreements led to an unforgivable act of revenge, the friendship falls apart and the band suffers. And worst of all, the guilt of what they had done was too much for one of them, leaving Sunny and Candie as a dissolving duo. But Candie goes on to further her stardom, while Sunny gets left behind and forgotten.
But when she hears Candie promoting a talent agency looking for K-Pop performers, Sunny sees it as a second chance. Selected to compete, Sunny decides to go all the way to show she does have what it takes to be a star. But the competition is far more cutthroat than she remembers, and this time it’s different not having Candie by her side. Because now she sees the wrath she tried to ignore in Candie, and can’t deny it’s connected to the harrowing injuries the other girls are receiving. Is Candie back to using her dark magic, and how long does she have to stop Candie before she becomes Candie’s next victim?
This was a wonderful surrealistic thriller. idk too much about K-Pop but that didn’t matter because Cheng drew me in with sympathy for Sunny almost immediately. I was rooting for her during the whole competition and her investigation into the weirdness surrounding Candie. This book had all the dark and creepy vibes mixed with the glitz and glamour of K-Pop and the heartbreak of abusive men and dying friendships. I thought Cheng did a great job of bringing all of these things together and resolving them at the end. Highly recommend this and will be on the lookout for other YA thrillers by Cheng!
A creepy YA horror novel about teen idols, pop music, the entertainment industry, East Asian beauty standards and toxic fan culture. I recommend it if you enjoyed horror movies centred around performance arts, like Perfect Blue, Suspiria and The Neon Demon etc.
What I liked even more than the spooky workshop storyline was the revealing of the behind-the-scenes drama of a young idol's life: social media pressure, fan theories, relationship scandals, tour fatigue, body issues, personal insecurities. Candice and Sunny are written really well, and incorporating a sapphic homoerotic relationship into into a narrative about performed performed public identities versus private reality, added new layer and pathos.
That aside, there is also a cosmic, supernatural horror element mixed with East Asian folklore, which I thought was very cleverly used. I must say, I preferred the old timeline to the current workshop horror story, probably because the time given to the character work is better and more effective than some of the spooky action, although I liked how the book didn't shy away from GROTESQUE body horror. Hell yeah, we love Asian horror stories that are not afraid to get gory and twisted.
Overall, as someone who loves anti-consumerist horror, this was perfect for me. I've always spoken vocally about people's fetishization of the K-pop/East Asian idol culture, and if you're one of those who wants to give up your life and move to Seoul for Jungkook, please read this lol. Can't wait for the sequel.
4 stars for blood, body horror, K-pop, dance battles, murderous sapphics, glitter gore and deranged fans.