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K-pop Confidential

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"I'm still giddy over this electrifying, big-hearted, all-kill smash of a debut. I couldn't put it down." -- Becky Albertalli, bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda In this romantic coming-of-age novel about chasing big dreams, a Korean-American girl travels to Seoul in hopes of debuting in a girl group at the same K-pop company behind the most popular boy "I'm still giddy over this electrifying, big-hearted, all-kill smash of a debut. I couldn't put it down." -- Becky Albertalli, bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda In this romantic coming-of-age novel about chasing big dreams, a Korean-American girl travels to Seoul in hopes of debuting in a girl group at the same K-pop company behind the most popular boy band on the planet. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Jenny Han. Candace Park knows a lot about playing a role. For most of her life, she's been playing the role of the quiet Korean girl who takes all AP classes and plays a classical instrument, keeping her dreams of stardom-and her obsession with SLK, K-pop's top boyband-to herself. She doesn't see how a regular girl like her could possibly become one of those K-pop goddesses she sees on YouTube. Even though she can sing. Like, really sing. So when Candace secretly enters a global audition held by SLK's music label, the last thing she expects is to actually get a coveted spot in their trainee program. And convincing her strict parents to let her to go is all but impossible ... although it's nothing compared to what comes next. Under the strict supervision of her instructors at the label's headquarters in Seoul, Candace must perfect her performance skills to within an inch of her life, learn to speak Korean fluently, and navigate the complex hierarchies of her fellow trainees, all while following the strict rules of the industry. Rule number one? NO DATING, which becomes impossible to follow when she meets a dreamy boy trainee. And in the all-out battle to debut, Candace is in danger of planting herself in the middle of a scandal lighting up the K-pop fandom around the world. If she doesn't have what it takes to become a perfect, hair-flipping K-pop idol, what will that mean for her family, who have sacrificed everything to give her the chance? And is a spot in the most hyped K-pop girl group of all time really worth risking her friendships, her future, and everything she believes in?


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"I'm still giddy over this electrifying, big-hearted, all-kill smash of a debut. I couldn't put it down." -- Becky Albertalli, bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda In this romantic coming-of-age novel about chasing big dreams, a Korean-American girl travels to Seoul in hopes of debuting in a girl group at the same K-pop company behind the most popular boy "I'm still giddy over this electrifying, big-hearted, all-kill smash of a debut. I couldn't put it down." -- Becky Albertalli, bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda In this romantic coming-of-age novel about chasing big dreams, a Korean-American girl travels to Seoul in hopes of debuting in a girl group at the same K-pop company behind the most popular boy band on the planet. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Jenny Han. Candace Park knows a lot about playing a role. For most of her life, she's been playing the role of the quiet Korean girl who takes all AP classes and plays a classical instrument, keeping her dreams of stardom-and her obsession with SLK, K-pop's top boyband-to herself. She doesn't see how a regular girl like her could possibly become one of those K-pop goddesses she sees on YouTube. Even though she can sing. Like, really sing. So when Candace secretly enters a global audition held by SLK's music label, the last thing she expects is to actually get a coveted spot in their trainee program. And convincing her strict parents to let her to go is all but impossible ... although it's nothing compared to what comes next. Under the strict supervision of her instructors at the label's headquarters in Seoul, Candace must perfect her performance skills to within an inch of her life, learn to speak Korean fluently, and navigate the complex hierarchies of her fellow trainees, all while following the strict rules of the industry. Rule number one? NO DATING, which becomes impossible to follow when she meets a dreamy boy trainee. And in the all-out battle to debut, Candace is in danger of planting herself in the middle of a scandal lighting up the K-pop fandom around the world. If she doesn't have what it takes to become a perfect, hair-flipping K-pop idol, what will that mean for her family, who have sacrificed everything to give her the chance? And is a spot in the most hyped K-pop girl group of all time really worth risking her friendships, her future, and everything she believes in?

30 review for K-pop Confidential

  1. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars. Stephan Lee's K-Pop Confidential is such fun!! Confession time: I know nothing about K-Pop. I don’t know BTS from Y2K or BLACKPINK from blackjack, but I do love reading about the music scene and stories of people going after their dreams of stardom, so this book really appealed to me. Candace Park is a dutiful daughter. She does what’s expected: studies hard, gets good grades, helps out at her parents’ convenience store, she even plays the viola (badly) in her school's orchestra beca 4.5 stars. Stephan Lee's K-Pop Confidential is such fun!! Confession time: I know nothing about K-Pop. I don’t know BTS from Y2K or BLACKPINK from blackjack, but I do love reading about the music scene and stories of people going after their dreams of stardom, so this book really appealed to me. Candace Park is a dutiful daughter. She does what’s expected: studies hard, gets good grades, helps out at her parents’ convenience store, she even plays the viola (badly) in her school's orchestra because her mother says it will make her stand out and be more likely to get scholarships for college. But what Candace wants is to sing. She thinks she’s good at it, her best friends think so too, but her mother doesn’t take her desire seriously, and thinks singing is something you do for fun; it's not a "real" ability. So one day, on a whim, thanks to the coaxing of her best friends, she goes to audition for the entertainment company responsible for all of the major K-Pop groups. They’re looking for singers for their first-ever girl group and girls from all over are hoping for their chance. Much to her surprise, the company wants her. She will become a trainee, one of a large group from which the members will be picked. They want her to come to Seoul and train with all of the others for several months. After much convincing, her parents will let it happen as long as she’s ready to go back to school when the summer ends if she’s not picked. She’s not prepared for how immensely hard it all is. She’s up against girls who have been preparing for this their entire lives. Her looks, her weight, her skills, her personality—it’s all under intense scrutiny. And no matter how hard she works, she might not even get picked, and even if she is picked, her group may never even debut if plans change. There's another American girl in the mix, so she wonders if she even has a chance. As she gets closer and closer to achieving her dreams, she starts to wonder if stardom is worth risking her friendships, changing her life and her family’s, not to mention the way the company treats its stars as well as obsession of the fans, who want their stars to be perfect, untouchable, only available to them. I enjoyed this so much. It’s fun and soapy and I could picture all of it in my mind’s eye, so it would make a fun movie. Don’t be put off because you don’t follow K-Pop—it’s a totally enjoyable book nevertheless, and there's even a glossary at the end! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html. Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emma Lord

    HOLY. GUACAMOLE. I just had the best week curled up with this absolute gem of a book. It is a hit on like, every level. There is all of the glamour and intrigue of our very relatable, big-hearted, gutsy heroine entering the world of K-pop and finding her voice, but it’s also so brilliantly grounded in family, friendship, and just the perfect amount of ~romance~ — and UGH, every single part of story is exciting but thoughtfully plotted, every remix of a trope so well-earned and satisfying in the HOLY. GUACAMOLE. I just had the best week curled up with this absolute gem of a book. It is a hit on like, every level. There is all of the glamour and intrigue of our very relatable, big-hearted, gutsy heroine entering the world of K-pop and finding her voice, but it’s also so brilliantly grounded in family, friendship, and just the perfect amount of ~romance~ — and UGH, every single part of story is exciting but thoughtfully plotted, every remix of a trope so well-earned and satisfying in the narrative, and EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER is so real to me that I just want to reach out through the pages and HUG THEM. There’s also so much growth in this novel, not just for Candace but everyone around her, and the way it all gets pulled together is just *CHEF’S KISS* perfection. I am not an expressive reader — like most people, I’m just kind of a stone-faced reading zombie — but I genuinely laughed out loud and shed so many unexpected tears at family moments that I had to put the book down for a hot second to catch my breath. I also love that you can enjoy this book whether you’re brand new to K-pop, or a deeply entrenched fan — Candace is a perfect bridge into the world, and once you are in it with her, you are FULLY IN IT. The behind-the-scenes of it all is unflinching, honest, heartfelt, and at times so joyful or devastating that it feels like you’re right in the room with them. Especially when you’re seeing things through the lens of Candace, who is equal parts funny and self-aware and hardworking and hopeful but also just as prone to moments of immaturity and misunderstanding that she takes responsibility for and grows from. And just!! The world-building! The wish fulfillment!! The way it is all so deeply grounded in family and friendship! This book took a risk with an extremely high concept, and in someone else’s hands it could have just been all glitz — which would have been fine! — but this has so, SO much heart. I can already tell I’m going to reread this book a hundred times. I wish it would hurry up and come out already so I can scream about it with everyone else.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard

    THAT'S FUCKING MOONBYUL! I'm too deep into the multifandom world of K-pop to not try this and also that girl looks like my love Moonbyul in Hip so...I have to support that THAT'S FUCKING MOONBYUL! I'm too deep into the multifandom world of K-pop to not try this and also that girl looks like my love Moonbyul in Hip so...I have to support that

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    I was privileged to read a book I knew I would truly love. This is mainly a fun read for K-Pop heartthrobs and new members to the world of K-Pop. Many people are slowly noticing the K-Pop world because of BTS(Bangtan Boys). BTS is a Korean boy band who hit it big in 2018 and only kept skyrocketing to No.1 worldwide. The author educates the reader on a few well known K-Pop girl bands and Korean phrases. I knew the majority of the things the author mentioned only because of my love of watching Kor I was privileged to read a book I knew I would truly love. This is mainly a fun read for K-Pop heartthrobs and new members to the world of K-Pop. Many people are slowly noticing the K-Pop world because of BTS(Bangtan Boys). BTS is a Korean boy band who hit it big in 2018 and only kept skyrocketing to No.1 worldwide. The author educates the reader on a few well known K-Pop girl bands and Korean phrases. I knew the majority of the things the author mentioned only because of my love of watching Korean Dramas. The author's main focal point in the book is how much are you willing to change yourself to be in the spotlight. This book dealt with 50 fictitious girls worldwide who were competing for a spotlight in creating SLK 2.0 girl band. The main character, Candace, strives with her voice and soul to be something different that your usual K-Pop star. The reader truly feels engaged in the lives of the girls and can feel the emotional aspect of becoming an idol. These struggles are: how you dress, your weight, your choreography, your singing, your family background, and no physical contact with boys period. The fans in general only get a partial glimpse into girls' lives, but there is so much that the cameras hide. This is almost a historical aspect of struggles all K-Pop stars in real life go through. It probably is a historical book, but I'll need to do more digging first. I enjoyed listening to few K-Pop songs that were mentioned in the book. I can't wait to read more books by this author.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Remarkablylisa)

    THIS BOOK WAS SO FREAKING GOOD GO READ IT!!!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marina Izzy

    Wow. No joke, if you love kpop or even if you don't and you just love YA in general, you need to read this book. I actually read this book a month ago but I've just been basking in it because it was everything I hoped it would be and more. To quote Stefon, KPOP CONFIDENTIAL has everything: amazing kpop song lyrics, a hot boy band, a cute cute forbidden love triangle, photo shoots, a music video shoot, a motorcycle ride through Seoul, incredible female friendships, family drama, terrible villains, Wow. No joke, if you love kpop or even if you don't and you just love YA in general, you need to read this book. I actually read this book a month ago but I've just been basking in it because it was everything I hoped it would be and more. To quote Stefon, KPOP CONFIDENTIAL has everything: amazing kpop song lyrics, a hot boy band, a cute cute forbidden love triangle, photo shoots, a music video shoot, a motorcycle ride through Seoul, incredible female friendships, family drama, terrible villains, scandal, high pressure performances and more. The best part of it though has to be the narrator, Candace Park. You don't expect to come across characters this complex, especially in a teen book about kpop. But I could read her all day. She's really funny, very smart, brave, bratty, excitable, sad, hopeful, all of it. It's amazing to see her go from being a quite and studious Korean American girl in New Jersey to an outspoken and confident kpop star trying to debut in this girl group that's supposed to be the girl version of the most popular boy band in the world, SLK. You can tell that the writer really loves this character and all of the characters and has so much respect for kpop fans and Korean culture. My other favorite part is one of the villains, Helena Cho, who's one of Candace's roommate and rival, the only other girl from America competing for a spot in the girl group. She's really hateable and sassy and also funny to read, but she also has a lot more going on than you think. You can tell this book isn't just about jumping in on the kpop trend but is trying to be a classic book that anyone can love. For me it definietly succeeded!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    If I could create the perfect book for a k-pop fan in a lab, K-POP CONFIDENTIAL would be it. Amazing narrator, authentic world-building about how hard it is and how high pressure it is to be a k-pop star, and amazing, believable, wish-fulfillment scenes about becoming a k-pop star yourself and also interacting with the stars we all love. I HOPE THIS BECOMES A MOVIE!!!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amber C

    Y'ALL, THIS IS THE ONE. I'm a huge Kpop fan and I've been waiting for the perfect Kpop YA novel. Ive read the Maurene Goo and the ARC of the Lyla Lee and all the others I could get my hands on, but this is the only one that NAILED IT. I couldn't get enough of Candace Park's journey. I related to her so much when she fought her parents to let her go to train at a Kpop training center at a record label in Seoul. It's the record label that created the biggest Kpop boy band in the world, SLK (clearly Y'ALL, THIS IS THE ONE. I'm a huge Kpop fan and I've been waiting for the perfect Kpop YA novel. Ive read the Maurene Goo and the ARC of the Lyla Lee and all the others I could get my hands on, but this is the only one that NAILED IT. I couldn't get enough of Candace Park's journey. I related to her so much when she fought her parents to let her go to train at a Kpop training center at a record label in Seoul. It's the record label that created the biggest Kpop boy band in the world, SLK (clearly based on BTS and Big Bang), which is looking for their first-ever girl group, which is very hyped. It's clear that the group is supposed to be like Blackpink. I can't say much without ruining the plot but it's SO GOOD. Candace has a cute romance with a boy trainee... VERY FORBIDDEN, which is accurate to real rules in Kpop... and she may or may not attract the interest of the star of SLK. Everything about this book is exciting and authentic. I can tell that the author did a lot of behind the scenes research and he's a very funny observant writer ... the details about Kpop and Korean families and customs are amazing and kinda the best part. There are so many good scenes including a music video shoot and a secret date and crazy rehearsals. This would be an AWESOME movie, I hope it gets made into one. I can't wait for this to come out and be a huge best-seller. It's like nothing I've ever read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler Every now and again, a book manages to completely overwhelm me in the best sort of way. Without my permission, it decides that it has to be read in one sitting and even once I finish it, thoughts of it will still rumble around in my brain for days after. K-Pop Confidential was such a read. Addictive, glamorous and exposing the dark underbelly of the Korean music industry, K-Pop Confidential is an unputdownable must-read for everyone, Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler Every now and again, a book manages to completely overwhelm me in the best sort of way. Without my permission, it decides that it has to be read in one sitting and even once I finish it, thoughts of it will still rumble around in my brain for days after. K-Pop Confidential was such a read. Addictive, glamorous and exposing the dark underbelly of the Korean music industry, K-Pop Confidential is an unputdownable must-read for everyone, whether they’re a fan of K-Pop or not. A mesmerising debut that leaves you wanting more! Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dahlia

    This was a lot of fun and a great look into a world I don't know at all beyond whatever I've learned from other K-Pop YAs, though this has been the most educational so far. I love when books/movies expose the incredibly hard work behind things that look fun and fluffy and this is definitely big in that department! The development of the secondary characters is a little uneven, and I thought it struggled a little to capture the scope of the competition beyond just their team (it always felt a lit This was a lot of fun and a great look into a world I don't know at all beyond whatever I've learned from other K-Pop YAs, though this has been the most educational so far. I love when books/movies expose the incredibly hard work behind things that look fun and fluffy and this is definitely big in that department! The development of the secondary characters is a little uneven, and I thought it struggled a little to capture the scope of the competition beyond just their team (it always felt a little surprising to me when I was reminded there were actually 45 other girls there I knew almost nothing about), but those were small details in a very entertaining whole.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Brunson

    I have been so excited to get my hands on this book ever since I read the blurb. In case you didn’t know, I love K-pop with my whole soul. So it was meant for me to read this book. Also, I must say that this cover is one my favorites of the year is seriously giving me BlackPink vibes. The biggest take away from this book is getting a look into what being a trainee would be like. Some of it was straight up brutal and while I hope that the K-Pop companies aren’t this problematic and bullying, know I have been so excited to get my hands on this book ever since I read the blurb. In case you didn’t know, I love K-pop with my whole soul. So it was meant for me to read this book. Also, I must say that this cover is one my favorites of the year is seriously giving me BlackPink vibes. The biggest take away from this book is getting a look into what being a trainee would be like. Some of it was straight up brutal and while I hope that the K-Pop companies aren’t this problematic and bullying, know that it’s happening. I for one have caught myself comparing my body or skin to an idol. Imagine having the people who manage your carrier tell you to get better skin, put you on a deadly diet, or just downright push you too far? I applaud this book for showing that side. Our main character Candace was a force to be dealt with. I loved her spirit and how she never quit. We go through her journey with her and it was a fun and wild ride. We have so many K-Pop references here, so I feel even if you aren’t a K-Pop fan you won’t be lost. This talked about so many songs and actions that made me happy as a fan. Ya girl really felt seen! Let me know if you want any song or group recommendations! Why I couldn’t give this one five stars was because of the romance and the ending. The romance was a bit undeveloped to me. I never felt the chemistry between them. As far as the ending, I would have liked an epilogue at least. Even if it was just a paragraph. I’m uncertain if this is supposed to be part of a series or not. It ended like it could be. If not, then it ended a bit abrupt to me. All in all, I enjoyed my time reading this book. It’s super fast paced and entertaining. New K-Pop fan or old, give it a try! I received an ARC via Edelweiss for an honest review. Blog | Instagram

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    This might be the most surprising read of 2020 for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Arielle Dachille

    Candace Park's story is at once relatable and a glimpse into a fascinating cultural phenomenon like K Pop. Our heroine struggles with the typical things an American high school-aged teen does: self-esteem, her dreams, boundless energy, bullies, crushes. She's just doing so against the backdrop of another world — the cutthroat, taxing, but glamorous arena of the idol training academy, S.A.Y. entertainment. The author does an excellent job juggling the many elements of this book. From page one, yo Candace Park's story is at once relatable and a glimpse into a fascinating cultural phenomenon like K Pop. Our heroine struggles with the typical things an American high school-aged teen does: self-esteem, her dreams, boundless energy, bullies, crushes. She's just doing so against the backdrop of another world — the cutthroat, taxing, but glamorous arena of the idol training academy, S.A.Y. entertainment. The author does an excellent job juggling the many elements of this book. From page one, you'll fall in love with Candace, her mother, her friends, and her bandmates. I can't recommend it enough.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    I was able to get my hands on an advanced copy and couldn't put it down. Any K-pop fan should love this book, but you don't need to be a K-pop fan (or know anything about K-pop!) to love it. Many elements of the book blew me away: the vivid imagining of a musical genre I wasn't familiar with; the descriptions of Candace's sense of wonder and terror as she experiences the rigors of training; and the humor and pathos that underpin the social dynamics of Candace's interactions with other potential p I was able to get my hands on an advanced copy and couldn't put it down. Any K-pop fan should love this book, but you don't need to be a K-pop fan (or know anything about K-pop!) to love it. Many elements of the book blew me away: the vivid imagining of a musical genre I wasn't familiar with; the descriptions of Candace's sense of wonder and terror as she experiences the rigors of training; and the humor and pathos that underpin the social dynamics of Candace's interactions with other potential pop stars. The protagonist's voice is captured wonderfully and infused with an American teenager's skepticism toward authority, desire for fame, and love of pop culture. If this is developed as a series -- and I hope it is -- I look forward to seeing her further growth.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I'm a simple girl. I see something that vaguely resembles my internal fantasy that I'm a hidden dancing, rapping, singing, fitness goddess and I click. No questions asked. So I started reading this like any normal person would. (Listening to Dynamite by BTS while trying desperately to hide how much of a simp I am.) I read it all in a day so it's a very quick easy one. Also, a good thing to note is that YoungBae, the main romantic interest is fucking bae GOALS. Which honestly startled the fuck I'm a simple girl. I see something that vaguely resembles my internal fantasy that I'm a hidden dancing, rapping, singing, fitness goddess and I click. No questions asked. So I started reading this like any normal person would. (Listening to Dynamite by BTS while trying desperately to hide how much of a simp I am.) I read it all in a day so it's a very quick easy one. Also, a good thing to note is that YoungBae, the main romantic interest is fucking bae GOALS. Which honestly startled the fuck out of me because I thought that this would be some awkward, girl-obsesses-over-boy kind of crush. Another thing to note is that I've been running a bit of a dry spell when it came to male leads and I'm honestly just happy to find someone that I don't think is an absolute man-child. I also particularly liked that this book wasn't an over-romanticized version of the kpop industry. Usually very young adults, even tweens are molded into a "perfect" sex dream of an idol. They are constantly criticized and isolated because they are believed to belong solely to the fans. This is harsh but accurate. And when Candace was going through the training, she was openly ridiculed, constantly fat-shamed and the butt of a variety of sexist remarks. All accurate. In my deep dive into Kpop ---> AKA ---> Honestly, I've had to put myself in a ton of morally compromising situations. The beauty standards in Korea are over-the-top, ludicrous. My mom lived there for four years and I can tell you that even in restaurants, they will stare at you like you're out of your fucking mind if you're a girl and you order a whole plate of chicken wings and a beer. Just what it is. This in mind I know that the process for turning out these mass-produced mannequin-esque trainees must be absolutely ghastly. Their schedules are constant with minimal breaks. Their pay, in the beginning, is trash, and a lot of time the success rate is so low that you could be working for ten years, earning pennies all while working your ass off. But South Korea... South Korea has found a formula that is addictive. By allowing their idols to live and breathe for their fans, to not date, not hug, not even SPEAK to another female they've given fans the ability to take ownership of idols in a way that America can never comprehend. I once watched this documentary that deep-dived into the Kpop phenomena that took a look at one of the top boy groups in Korea right now - MonstaX. One of the boys pulled out their phone and scrolled through their calendar, showing the camera the fact that he had no days off. 365 days in a year and not a single day to take a breath and just... idk? Live like a normal 17 year old? From morning til night, they were constantly pumping out content. Snapchats. Tweets. Instagram lives. Fan mail readings and personalized gifts and messages. Photoshoots. Interviews. Multiple dance compilations for one song. Airport pictures. What they were doing. How they were feeling. At night they would film bedtime content where the members would get in a bed and talk to each other as if they were falling asleep - letting the fans feel like they were cozied up to their dream boys as they drifted to sleep. Like a sleep meditation session hosted by your idol. Candace (yeah I'm getting back to the story now) was never going to make it as a Kpop idol. I knew that from the first chapter. Was it cute of her to try? Sure. Yeah. Was it a bit far-fetched? Did I find myself rolling my eyes sometimes at Candace's antics? Um. Yeah. I'm not dumb. But... there's something so enticing about falling into this world. And it was refreshing that the author highlighted these flaws and also didn't shy away from Candace's as well. When an author acts like their MC walks on water when it's more like they trample through the shallows, that's when I have an issue. Woo glad I got that Kpop rant over with. Feel like my head was an attic with too many boxes labeled KPOP IS DAEBAK OMG up there.

  16. 5 out of 5

    AnnieChae

    As a Korean-American YA fan, I'm always always always looking for books with Korean or Korean-American MCs. There are so few that I picked up this ARC, even though I was expecting a book called K-POP CONFIDENTIAL to be a breezy but probably silly read. I was right and wrong ... It's a fast paced and very funny book, but I was NOT expecting the depth and feels that came from it. This book really got me. As a Korean American HS student myself who lives not far from where the MC, Candace Park, lives As a Korean-American YA fan, I'm always always always looking for books with Korean or Korean-American MCs. There are so few that I picked up this ARC, even though I was expecting a book called K-POP CONFIDENTIAL to be a breezy but probably silly read. I was right and wrong ... It's a fast paced and very funny book, but I was NOT expecting the depth and feels that came from it. This book really got me. As a Korean American HS student myself who lives not far from where the MC, Candace Park, lives, I could see myself in her and her relationship with her family and the pressure to be the quiet hardworking type. I loved how strict Candace's parents could be but they're not a stereotype - you can see how all their expectations come from love. I spent a summer in Korea myself, and I don't speak great Korean, just like Candace, and OMG the author got how that feels!! You feel like a fraud and failure all the time, but you try your best anyway and Korean people are so nice when they see you make the effort. I started flying through the book when Candace got to S.A.Y., the Korean record label and training center. I'm a big K-pop fan so I know about some of the problems in the industry and the fan culture. This book definitely gets deep into that stuff, but I like how it wasn't about criticizing the world even while pointing out some of the problems. It made me love K-pop even more, now that I know what goes into it, and made me want to find way more songs and bands to add to my pandemic playlists. I love the friendships in the book -- both Candace's friends in America and the ones she makes in Korea. None of the relationships are simple and straightforward ... a lot of the characters are really complicated, including Helena (my nemesis and hero) and One.J, who's not really exactly who he seems. This book is so good and I hope it becomes a TV show! I could see it becoming the first CW show that's half in Korean subtitles lmao. A girl can dream.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chelsey

    Candace Park has never had a chance to let her own voice shine: her parents have forced her into playing the viola instead of joining choir, and she lives in the constant shadow of her popular older brother. When her friends convince her to try out for a K-Pop company's trainee school and she manages to pass the audition, will it finally be her chance to prove who she really is to her family and to herself? Well, this book was everything I never knew I wanted in a K-Pop story. It reads very much Candace Park has never had a chance to let her own voice shine: her parents have forced her into playing the viola instead of joining choir, and she lives in the constant shadow of her popular older brother. When her friends convince her to try out for a K-Pop company's trainee school and she manages to pass the audition, will it finally be her chance to prove who she really is to her family and to herself? Well, this book was everything I never knew I wanted in a K-Pop story. It reads very much like an expose into trainee life, and I really enjoyed every moment. That being said, the ending feels slightly rushed, like Lee tried to push in an issue to stand behind at the end, but it was too late to make it really hit home. Give to your K-Pop stans!

  18. 4 out of 5

    theresa

    i DID NOT expected to love this as much as i dis??? and i definitely DID NOT cried at the end.nope,not at all.and i am definitely NOT listening to Blackpink right now. KILL THIS LOVE 💗🖤

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    Obsessed! If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of your favorite kpop group or have already devoured Jenny Han or Mary HK Choi's books, you've got to read this. I couldn't get enough of Candace's journey or the drama within the group. The writing is fresh and fun and kept me wanting more. I can't wait to see what comes next!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    This book is SO. MUCH. FUN!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephan Lee

    If you can’t love yourself...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Abbyforth

    This was so fun 😭For the record my team two bias is Binna 😭

  23. 5 out of 5

    Justin Sherwood

    As a newcomer to K-Pop, I was excited to get an advanced copy of this book but was not sure what to expect from it. What I got was an impossible-to-put-down, deeply relatable, and totally fresh look at coming of age under extraordinary circumstances. The book’s protagonist, Candace, won my heart in the first few pages of the book and I loved every twist and turn on her amazing journey to a K-Pop wonderland. Little details in the book — the vagaries of K-Pop fandom, the making of an idol, and the As a newcomer to K-Pop, I was excited to get an advanced copy of this book but was not sure what to expect from it. What I got was an impossible-to-put-down, deeply relatable, and totally fresh look at coming of age under extraordinary circumstances. The book’s protagonist, Candace, won my heart in the first few pages of the book and I loved every twist and turn on her amazing journey to a K-Pop wonderland. Little details in the book — the vagaries of K-Pop fandom, the making of an idol, and the worldwide impact of MVs – opened up totally new worlds to me. I pray that there is more to come, because this book seems destined to become a series!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    I really enjoyed this arc! Thank you for the early review copy. It is so much funnier than I expected. I really love Candace’s voice through out her journey as a trainee. I really appreciated the realistic portrayal of her relationship with her traditional parents. I could relate so hard to that struggle to find common ground and still want to be your own person. I’m excited to grab a finished copy! A must read for anyone who love that kpop life! There are a few content warnings that should be n I really enjoyed this arc! Thank you for the early review copy. It is so much funnier than I expected. I really love Candace’s voice through out her journey as a trainee. I really appreciated the realistic portrayal of her relationship with her traditional parents. I could relate so hard to that struggle to find common ground and still want to be your own person. I’m excited to grab a finished copy! A must read for anyone who love that kpop life! There are a few content warnings that should be noted before reading this book for eating disorders and mental health issues.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    I know absolutely nothing about the world of K-pop other than what I've read in one other K-pop YA but this was such a fun and addictive read. I loved being immersed in this entirely new world and I thought Stephan did such a brilliant job on filling the book with enough information to educate the informed on K-pop culture without becoming info dumping. I don't know how factual the training/behind the scene elements were surrounding K-pop culture and its values (although I know the author did a I know absolutely nothing about the world of K-pop other than what I've read in one other K-pop YA but this was such a fun and addictive read. I loved being immersed in this entirely new world and I thought Stephan did such a brilliant job on filling the book with enough information to educate the informed on K-pop culture without becoming info dumping. I don't know how factual the training/behind the scene elements were surrounding K-pop culture and its values (although I know the author did a lot of research) but I left this reading experience somehow wanting to both learn everything there is to know about K-pop culture, whilst also not wanting to come near it ever again. So much of it absolutely horrified me, especially when it came to diets and the dangerous fixation on weight loss and I'm not sure how I felt about that not really being condemned (but I also realise that just might be me being entirely ignorant on K-pop culture). With that being said, I really enjoyed this book. I was fully invested in Candace's journey from page one and loved being sucked into a world entirely new to both of us. Overall, this was heart warming, frustrating, fast paced read that was filled to the brim with drama that's perfect for a K-pop newbie like me. TW: body shaming/fatphobia, extreme dieting

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meg Chia (bibliophilogy)

    4.25 CHECK OUT MY FULL REVIEW HERE! I was in a reading slump and picking this book up is definitely so helpful because of its interesting premise! I am not a huge k-pop fan, I do love their songs sometimes but I don’t have a favourite group or bias, but I am always fascinated by how the companies run things and how hard it is to become who idols are today so it was so refreshing to see what goes on behind the scenes. K-pop Confidential is about chasing your dreams even though you already know what 4.25 CHECK OUT MY FULL REVIEW HERE! I was in a reading slump and picking this book up is definitely so helpful because of its interesting premise! I am not a huge k-pop fan, I do love their songs sometimes but I don’t have a favourite group or bias, but I am always fascinated by how the companies run things and how hard it is to become who idols are today so it was so refreshing to see what goes on behind the scenes. K-pop Confidential is about chasing your dreams even though you already know what is ahead of you, it is about knowing your own worth and never let anyone make you feel diminished. This is a very inspiring novel, especially the ending when everything is just falling into place but in the end, Candace still chose to follow her heart and do the right thing. I really enjoyed this book, it was hell of a ride with this novel and I strongly recommend this book to everyone who may be interested in k-pop or the k-pop industry, or just anyone who is curious about what this book has to offer!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    You don’t have to be a K-Pop fan to get Stephan Lee’s K-Pop Confidential. You do have to be up for a YA story that centers a Korean-American girl from Fort Lee, New Jersey following her dreams all the way to Seoul. I loved that Candice isn’t just an AP student forced to play viola (yep, we’ve all been there, well, except for getting 5s on the tests), she’s also talented and fierce and funny. Going inside the world of K-Pop trainee programs, Lee doesn’t shy away from the uglier parts: a system tha You don’t have to be a K-Pop fan to get Stephan Lee’s K-Pop Confidential. You do have to be up for a YA story that centers a Korean-American girl from Fort Lee, New Jersey following her dreams all the way to Seoul. I loved that Candice isn’t just an AP student forced to play viola (yep, we’ve all been there, well, except for getting 5s on the tests), she’s also talented and fierce and funny. Going inside the world of K-Pop trainee programs, Lee doesn’t shy away from the uglier parts: a system that chews up and spits out talent without giving it a second thought, that prioritizes boys over girls, that imposes crazy diets on young people who are busting their butts all day in dance rehearsal. And yet, what K-Pop Confidential wraps around that is a story about a teenager realizing her own value, her own power. Candace never loses herself as she climbs to the top, even when it’s debut or die trying. With glamour, romance, and sometimes a sharp dose of reality, K-Pop Confidential is an irresistible debut, and so flipping fun. I can’t wait to read more from Stephan Lee.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janani(ஜனனி)

    i had a blast reading this!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eunice

    The one line of "YoungBae got discovered when a S.A.Y. recruiter found a YouTube video of him rapping about Jesus in his church's praise band" absolutely had me in stitches since that encapsulates the Korean American™ experience to its core LOLOL

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mandie

    This was adorable and fluffy and it gave me FEELINGS and I am pure trash for this book.

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