What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?
For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?
Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.
Author: Jessica Jung
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐ 4/5
K-pop is not as glamorous as people think, and Rachel Kim learns this the hard way. As a K-pop (and Girls’ Generation) fan, I was so excited when I heard about Jessica Jung’s book. And it delivered!
After six years of training and sacrifices, Rachel starts to question whether she is cut out for the cutthroat industry of K-pop.
Going into Shine, I knew there were going to be some dark truths about the K-pop industry and the double standards they hold. What I didn’t expect was how far it went. From toxic bullying to crushing media gossip, Rachel faces many struggles on her way to stardom. Along the way, however, she grows into a more confident and fierce young woman who won’t back down.
I really like how the book was written in first-person. It was easy to imagine myself as Rachel as she pushed herself towards reaching her dream. This made certain scenes more emotional, especially when Rachel’s thoughts of herself came into play.
One of my favorite parts about the book is the portrayal of Rachel’s relationship with her younger sister, Leah. Although Rachel is busy with training, she still holds her sister as a high priority, which reminded me a little of my relationship with my own sister. It was very clear from the beginning that the two are close, and Leah shows her older sister as much support as she can.
Without giving away spoilers, I should warn you not to read this book if you are looking for a pretty “Happily Ever After” ending. Life is messy, and life in the K-pop industry is messier. I like how Rachel’s story captures this idea with certain questions left unanswered. But, who knows? Maybe some of these questions will be answered in the sequel…
Shine is entertaining as well as eye-opening. Once I picked it up, it was hard to put down. If you love K-pop or you’re looking for a read about chasing dreams, this is the YA contemporary for you!
Until next time, happy reading! ♡