book · contemporany · review · romance · young-adult

Shine by Jessica Jung [Review]

Hey readers,

A few months ago I saw this book on Instagram and I have to be honest and say that what called my attention was the cute cover! Pretty and girly!

Then I searched some informations about it and discover that was written by Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Girls Generation. Call it faith or destiny but lately I’ve been really into Netflix Korean series, so it was perfectly acceptable to say that I was really excited to read this book.

My expectations were high – I was expecting a romance, like the ones I see in the series. But, this story is more than that…this book talks about how controlling the industry of K-pop is and how women can be considered less than men (remember this part because I will talk about it later).

Shine tells the story of Rachel, a seventeen years old Korean-America girl that after doing everything to become a K-Pop Star, sees herself wondering if she’s strong enough to overcome everything that she wants.

Rachel and her family moved to Korea six years ago so she could pursue her dreams of becoming a K-Pop Star. She is a trainee at DB entertainment but unlike other trainees, she doesn’t train 24/7, and because of that, she has enemies – like Mina Choo, the eldest daughter of one of Korean oldest families.

Mina does everything so Rachel doesn’t succeed. And more to the end, we understand the pressure Mina’s father does in her life (not that this justifies Mina’s behaviors).

Then there’s Jason Lee, the DB’s newest K-pop star, the golden boy. Jason is Rachel’s love interest and in the beggining everything looks great – he mets her in the most cute way, helps her like a shining hero and even sings with her. He’s well known for everybody and overall I liked his character.

The book shows how luxurious the life of a K-POP Star can be, at one point we are thrown into some really nice places, like secret cafes for celebs, engagement parties with Dj Diplo and private jets.

But then, there’s the brutal standards of the K-pop industry. All the trainees have to move into a house together so they can practice every day (with constant supervision) to perfect their moves, images and voices. There’s some rules: no dating, no social media and no more pounds. They are cruel and with no mercy for anyone who can’t keep up.

They also have performance reviews every month that can lead to cuts. Call it pressure…

They can’t eat too much, and let’s not forget the body shamming between the girls.

If that’s not enough there’s also the double standards for women and men. Like the fans, who rip into female idols without any mercy while fawning over the men. In one minute they were screaming ‘Rachel we love you’ and the other ‘We hate you, you are not good enough. Leave Jason alone’. And the journalists that asked important questions to Jason and for Rachel and Mina the questions are silly and almost the same “which one of you takes more time to get ready?”.

In the end the double standard was what ruined Rachel and Jason relationship.

“What?” Jason looks at me, perplexed. I sign. Now is not the time to get into the DB rumor mill. “It’s not important. But don’t tell me you haven’s noticed the double standard in the industry. It’s different for girls than it is for guys.”

“You have noticed, haven’t you?”

“To be honest, not really.” he frowns. “At the end of the day, BD is a business. It doesn’t really benefit them to treat the guy differently than the girls.”.

Jason was so blind so it took Rachel’s to almost pass out filming a commercial for him to realize that she was right. His treatment is very different from hers.

I think that this book had everything to be a only book and not part of a series, with everything wrap up and a proper ending. In my opinion was cut to have a continuation.

My favorite part is Rachel’s family – her sister Leah is the epitome of a fangirl (she doesn’t have friends because she moved to Seul really young). Rachel’s father that finished a degree in advocacy and the only person that knows is her. And the mother that doesn’t want Rachel to succumb to the toxic K-pop industry.

I really like them all!

Am I hyped to read the continuation? eh more or less! I’m curious to know what will happen now that Rachel father is going to work to Mina’s and what they mean when they call them ‘a family’. I also want to know how is going to be Jason&Rachel relationship in the future and of course, I want them to sing together and be happy (together). I’m curious about Jason’s family and I wish to know more about them (there are secrets, trust me).

In my opinion, this book deserves 3.5 stars.


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