ARC Review: Shine by Jessica Jung

Posted September 27, 2020 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 6 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review:  Shine by Jessica JungShine by Jessica Jung
Published by Simon Pulse on September 29, 2020
Genres: YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
My Rating: five-stars
Buy on AmazonBuy on Barnes & Noble


A Korean American teen is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Girls Generation.

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.

My Review:

While I’m personally not into the K-Pop sensation these days, a lot of my students and even some of my friends are. So I was very interested in reading this book and not only getting a glimpse inside the world, but also seeing what my students might actually enjoy reading.

This was a book I could not put down. The only reason I didn’t finish it in one day is because I was so tired and kind of a little down the first day I read it, that when it was bedtime, I just turned off the light and fell asleep instead of my normal up for an hour or two reading. But when I got up this morning, I went and sat by the window and enjoyed the rainy day and a good book.

There was a lot of drama in the story, which probably is exactly how that world is, especially since this author knows exactly what that world was like, having been a part of it herself. And the main character had so many things to juggle, and even when something started to look like she’d reached her dream, something else would either throw a wrench in the whole thing, or it was the “be careful what you wish for” scenario. The world of glitz and glamour was totally shown to be so much less glamorous on the other side, as we pretty much know from all celebrity tell-alls. But another thing that was really pointed out in this book was what a horrible double standard there is for the females compared to the boys. Not even just by the people in charge of the whole music industry, but with the fans as well. The horrible things girls say about the females they see with the male stars that they adore, and how the males can do no wrong, or are encouraged to do those things.

There were so many great issues touched on in this book, but it wasn’t preachy or anything like that. It was just a wonderful, edge of the seat, can’t stop turning pages story.

I did have to google some of the words, I wanted to know about the foods that were being talked about. And I’m sure I butchered the pronunciation of many if not all of the names in the book. But I know it is a culture I’d like to continue to learn more about. I may even look up some of these K-Pop groups just to see what I was reading out. And while I fell a little bit in love with the love interest, Jason Lee, I adored his snarky sarcasm, in the end, the book is about female empowerment and taking charge and not needing a man, even as we continue to fight for the equality we deserve, and all that storyline is fine the way it is.

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6 responses to “ARC Review: Shine by Jessica Jung

    • Lisa Mandina

      Yeah, I’m not at all into K-Pop, but I can totally understand my students who are because I have always been a boy band fan, or pop music, I mean I still go to New Kids on the Block concerts and love them! But this was definitely good and so interesting! Plus I know my students will probably love it so I ordered both physical copies for when they get back as well as digital audiobook copies for now while they are still doing remote learning.

  1. John Smith

    I just watched some of a 100-most viewed k-pop songs of all time vid on youtube. It prominently includes Psy, that older dude with the very catchy songs, and I wouldn’t even count him as k-pop. I see it as BTS, BTS, BTS, BTS, and some similar male groups. And I prefer the depth and subtlety of, say, vintage Backstreet Boys.

    • Lisa Mandina

      Interesting! I only know a few BTS songs. But I loved NKOTB! And I totally get all the fans of k-pop, if I was a teen I’d probably be really into it myself.

  2. Danielle Hammelef

    I also really want to read this book. I exercise to many K-pop songs and one of my instructors adores BTS, so whenever Jazzercise gets the music rights to one of their songs (my personal favorite is Dynamite) she puts them into her class sets. After reading your review, I don’t want to miss out on this book and learning more about the K-pop culture too.

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