Once Upon a K-Prom | ARC Review

Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho

Published: May 17, 2022

Format: E-book ARC πŸ“±

Tags: Young Adult, Contemporary, High-School, Romance, K-Pop – Korean Culture

| Synopsis from the Publisher |

Elena Soo has always felt overshadowed. Whether by her more successful older sisters, her more popular twin brother, or her more outgoing best friend, everyone except Elena seems to know exactly who they are and what they want. But she is certain about one thing – she has no interest in going to prom. While the rest of the school is giddy over corsages and dresses, Elena would rather spend her time working to save the local community center, the one place that’s always made her feel like she belonged.

So when international K-pop superstar Robbie Choi shows up at her house to ask her to prom, Elena is more confused than ever. Because the one person who always accepted Elena as she is? Her childhood best friend, Robbie Choi. And the one thing she maybe, possibly, secretly wants more than anything? For the two of them to keep the promise they made each other as kids: to go to prom together. But that was seven years ago, and with this new K-pop persona, pink hair, and stylish clothes, Robbie is nothing like the sweet, goofy boy she remembers. The boy she shared all her secrets with. The boy she used to love.

Besides, prom with a guy who comes with hordes of screaming fans, online haters, and relentless paparazzi is the last thing Elena wants – even if she can’t stop thinking about Robbie’s smile…right?

Keywords to describe this book: Character-centered, Contemporary, Dramatic

I received a complimentary Disney Publishing Worldwide through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

~My Thoughts~

πŸ“– Content πŸ“– |

πŸ‘©β€β€οΈβ€πŸ‘¨ Friends-to-Lovers Trope!!!

I really do enjoy a good “friends to lovers” trope, and this book gave me that in spades. Not only are Elena and Robbie friends, they’re childhood BEST friends! It was so cute seeing their friendship in flashback moments and then their progression into a relationship in the present. I love that, as characters, they are so well developed that you really can see just how much they care about each other and they ways they’ve connected. I felt so warm just reading about them, and it made the book feel very heartwarming and fun.

πŸ‘­ Elena and Josie, BFFS

One of the best things about this book are the friendships, but I particularly enjoyed Elena’s and Josie’s friendship. They really are friendship goals – they support one another, they do things for one another, even if it’s not something they personally enjoy, and they clearly know and love each other. I just really appreciate seeing strong female characters and their bond being a central part of the plot. I mean, without Josie’s activism, Elena would not have thrown herself into trying to keep the Center running the way she does, and so much else (don’t want to spoil the plot!). Much of the book displays how they care for one another and I really enjoyed reading these moments.

πŸ“‹ The Plot

Something that makes this book so fun is that it feels very much like a contemporary K-Drama. The plot moves along at a good pace and I felt like I wanted to keep reading with each new moment. I love K-Drama and I think that I felt so happy reading this book because it read like one. It’s so light and happy, even though there are tense or sad moments sprinkled throughout. Overall, it gives you a comforting feeling, which made reading it so enjoyable. I always appreciate plots that can do that for me and that keep me moving.

| πŸ“ Literary Value πŸ“ |

The writing in this book is very accessible and easy, which I really enjoyed. I like books that are light and fun, where I can just focus on the drama and the romance and not have to feel like I’m being paraded through a complex puzzle and that I’m missing things. This book feels like a breath of fresh air, and I think the writing really makes it that way. I never felt bogged down or hindered in any way while reading the book. The plot moves along, and the characters were well-rounded, all a testament to the Cho’s writing. It kept me interested and entertained. This book definitely feels like a palate-cleanser. If I ever feel like I’m in a reading slump, I very well might be turning to this book!

| 🎭 Entertainment Factor 🎭 |

I think it’s pretty obvious by now, but I had so much fun reading this book! I love the characters, the plot was exciting and moved well, and the writing kept me feeling comfortable. There are so many humorous moments, very much like K-Drama, ones where you feel second-hand embarrassment, but at the same time you don’t want to look away because it’s too good. I really loved the K-Pop moments within it, too, because it all felt so real and magical. It’s such a lighthearted read, and I really needed that.

Read Alikes:

| XOXO by Axie Oh | Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach Finding My Voice by Marie Myung-Ok Lee |

| My Rating |

Definitely Worth the Read

I had such a fun time reading this book. It’s just so light and breezy, with some really cute, sweet moments between Elena and Robbie, the two leads. As someone who was never big on prom, I felt a real kinship to Elena and her friend Josie in their quest to make their peers re-think unloading all this money on a dance, when second-hand, being environmentally-friendly, and thrifty can still bring a fun night.

I think, plot-wise, this book had some predictable moments, but there were a few times that Cho surprised me, and I enjoyed that! She hit on some really relatable things, especially when it comes to insecurity. Elena is one among many siblings, and additionally is a fraternal twin, so she feels overshadowed by all her older siblings, and that her parents uphold her brother more. The book also touches on the growing pains of friendship that moves from childhood into middle and high school, as well as feelings of abandonment. It’s amazing that Cho is able to include all of this and still keep the novel lighthearted, overall.

I feel like the essence of K-Pop and the idol scene is distilled into this novel in such a fun and recognizable way. Though I don’t listen to a lot of K-Pop, I could see a lot of connections Cho was making between Robbie’s group and contemporary, real K-Pop stars. I feel like she captured a very real time within her book and it was such a fun element to the story. I think many readers will be enticed by the book’s clear lines drawn to K-Pop and K-Drama.

Overall, I’d say that I enjoyed this book as much as I expected to, which was a lot! I love the characters, the overall light and playful feel of the book, and that the plot didn’t always follow the expected path. This is a book I feel I can easily recommend to readers, especially ones who love K-Pop and K-Drama.

How about you?

Let me know what you think! If you’ve read the book, share your thoughts! If not – are you going to read it or pass on it? Tell me all about it in the comments. Keep up the reading!

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