Book 6 on My Book List 2022
”A silky shirt clings to his shoulders, and his long legs are clad in smooth black pants. His left arm is in a cast, but a Rolex glints from his right wrist – and are those sleeve tattoos?”
If you’re BTS ARMY and didn’t immediately think of Jungkook when you read this description of Jaewoo then I really dunno. *lol* It was my first thought and from then on out I always pictured JK when I read about him. Don’t judge me, I needed to live vicariously through Jenny’s POV. ;-P I mean which k-pop fan doesn’t dream of meeting their idol and actually being together with them? XD Okay, so this out of the way we can finally talk about the actual book.
”If you need help, you only have to ask.”
There’s a short pause, then he says softly. “If I asked you to save me, would you?”
My heart breaks a little. “I can try.”
I absolutely loved how Jenny and Jaewoo met. I mean a karaoke bar is so fitting for a k-pop idol and those two spent quite a nice night together. Their meet-cute was extremely sweet and I can’t believe Jenny didn’t know who he was. She found out soon enough though and to say the revelation kinda threw her would be an understatement. Jenny was such a great character though and I really liked the way she thought about life and idols in general. Her stance on how fans should respect their idols and their wishes was amazing and I really wish the hard-core fans in the fandom would see it like that too.
”I mean… not exactly that. More like, you need to be strong for yourself first, be healthy and happy for yourself first, before you can be strong and give happiness to others. The healthier and happier you are, the more you can give to your fans, right? They should want that for you.”
I think the majority of k-pop stans (and when I say majority I mean about 90%) want their idols to be happy no matter what they do or who they end up with. I’m no exception to that rule because honestly if any member of BTS would find their significant other I’d be super happy for them. They deserve it! They did so much for ARMY and all I want for them is to be happy and healthy. ❤ Unfortunately not everyone in the fandom is like me though and there are the ugly sides of being an idol as well. Stalker fans (saesangs) and people in the fandom that criticize everything their idols do. People that think they can dictate what their idol wears, who they date or even what haircut they should get. (Let alone all those people that constantly give idols hell for getting tattoos or piercings. They are adults and grown women/men and it is their body! They can do whatever they want! You either love them as they are, because tattoos and piercings are an expression of themselves as well or you just don’t stan them. Period!)
I look up to see Jaewoo walk into the cafeteria … with Sori.
I’ve never seen a more striking pair. They look like they stepped out of a catalogue.
“Is it weird if I take a picture?” Angela asks. “Like as a souvenir for myself. I’ve never seen such great visuals.”
So yeah, sorry about that but everyone who is familiar with k-pop knows that there is a darker side to the fandoms as well. It’s not all bad though and there is an even bigger and lovely side to the fandoms as well. As I said before, about 90% of their fans will support their idols no matter what and will always have their back. 😉 I think the book portrayed the good and the bad sides of the fandoms so well and really captured the essence of being a k-pop fan. Alone the quote above with the visuals was so damn relatable.*lol* And don’t even get me started on the shipping. Haha!
”You’re my boyfriend. Don’t think for a second I haven’t seen all your videos, even the fan-made ones that point out all the evidence that you and Nathaniel are a couple.”
“That’s embarrassing,” Jaewoo says. “And here I thought we were being careful.”
I mean that quote!!! It’s every k-pop group that has a fandom! There will always be ships no matter if it’s among the members in the group or with members of other groups. XD And speaking of the k-pop bands themselves. The representation of XOXO as a k-pop group was more than just accurate too! The way the band members cared about and supported each other was so heart-warming and relatable. Everyone who’s a fan of a k-pop group will know that the members are basically family and that they spend a lot of time together. Most of the times even their youth because they become trainees when they are still very young and the other band members kind of compensate for their real family. So by the end of their trainee days and when they have their debut they are actually already a found family that gives each other strength. =)
”He means so much to a lot of people,” Sun continues, “not just to his family, of course, but to everyone here at Joah. He started training at the company when he was twelve years old. It’s been difficult for him, away from his family for all those years. But he kept on working hard. He’d spend hours in the studio training his body and voice.”
And here’s the moment when I have to admit that I loved XOXO and that I’d definitely become a fan if they’d be a real k-pop band! *lol* All the four members were amazing and no matter if it was Jaewoo, Nathaniel, Sun or Youngmin all of them totally gave me family vibes. =) The description of their roles in the group was typical k-pop too and I had a really soft spot for Youngmin (the maknae) and Sun (their leader and rapper). Of course Nathaniel and Jaewoo were amazing as well and they all complemented one another and made their group unique.
”I have to go make apologies on behalf of the group. Of course that’s my job as the leader, to protect our members. I’ll always protect them, even from themselves.”
This all out of the way, I guess it’s finally time to speak about the elephant in the room: The love story between Jenny and Jaewoo! Those two were super adorable and I really can’t blame Jenny for dating Jaewoo in secret. I suppose for k-pop idols that’s the only way because as I said not everyone in the fandom will be happy about their idol dating. Not that it’s a lot different in Western countries, but I think it’s become more normal for stars to date people and even though there is always a huge fuss about who is dating who they usually don’t get death threats or shit storms for it anymore. K-pop idols don’t have love interests though (at least not according to their label and in public) and therefore would have to hide their relationships from their fans.
I hook my arms around his neck. “What are we stealing?” I can feel Jaewoo’s grin against my lips.
“Time?” he suggests. He must mean it as a joke, but it’s actually the very thing we’re trying to steal. Moments like this are so few and far between.
I think that’s actually the only negative thing I can say about “XOXO”, it was too realistic! *lol* Jenny and Jaewoo sneaking around and kissing secretly in a broom closet always trying to make room to see each other and to make their relationship work. It was too damn realistic! I wanted to see more of their relationship and what I got was reality smack right in the face. XD They had different schedules and other responsibilities and their little moments were few and far between. So exactly the way it would have been if a real idol would have dated a cello prodigy. On the one hand I really appreciated this realistic approach but on the other hand it kinda dampened my enjoyment of the book a little because I was always left wanting for more. This ultimately resulted in the fact that I got the feeling their relationship developed way too fast for the couple of little moments they actually spent together. Maybe there happened a lot of things off-page but those moments on page were the things I actually wanted to read about and I think because of that imbalance I didn’t ship them as much as I ship other bookish couples.
”You have a schedule too. We need to practice or we won’t be ready for the showcase. I thought you said you needed something unique to stand out in your portfolio. Are you really going to blow your chances of a future, a long-term one, for a guy who can never, I mean never, put you first?”
Don’t get me wrong, they were super cute, but their relationship didn’t really sweep me off my feet and I didn’t get all those gushy sweet romantic feels I usually get when I ship a couple. *lol* You know all those “Awww” or “AKDFASDFLJASLDFAJSDFKS!” moments. XD Speaking of relationships: I really appreciated Jenny’s and Sori’s friendship as well but I didn’t really understand where Sori was coming from when it came to Nathaniel.
spoilerI mean that boy was crazy for her and definitely wanted to date her and be her bf but she didn’t give in because she was an idol herself?! It was so obvious that Sori had feelings for Nathaniel too and I just couldn’t understand how those two couldn’t date. I mean I got where Sori was coming from but if Jenny and Jaewoo managed to date, they could have easily done the same thing. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I really didn’t get it. Still don’t.
“XOXO” was a really great book and a very realistic one at that. I loved all the Korean phrases, food and k-pop knowledge that went into the story and I lived and breathed for the glimpses of Seoul life! The fact that the book didn’t just address the positive but also the negative sides of the k-pop industry was amazing and I really liked all of the characters and their different personalities! If you’re a k-pop fan (or a music trope fan in general) this book is definitely for you and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as well! Happy reading! =)