3 Great YA Books About K-Pop

Tirzah Price

Senior Contributing Editor

Most of Tirzah Price's life decisions have been motivated by a desire to read as many books as humanly possible. Tirzah holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has worked as an independent bookseller and librarian. She’s also the author of the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries, published by HarperTeen, and Bibliologist at TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. Follow her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.

Flatiron Books, publishers of Mirage by Somaiya Daud.

Cinder meets Shatter Me in this “immersive and captivating” (Booklist) fantasy about a poor girl who must become the body double of a princess of a ruthless empire.

I’ll admit that I didn’t really know a whole lot about K-pop until a couple of years when I began to notice it trending on social media, but I’ve been completely unsurprised to see that Korean popular music and its fans have started to find their way into YA books. It’s been so cool to explore what this fandom means to so many teens through YA books, and with the news of I’ll Be the One being picked up for potential film development, I thought I’d share three recent YA books about K-pop if you’re interested in reading more!

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

It was just announced on Monday that this book is in the works to be adapted into a film by HBO Max! I read it last month I thought it was so much fun, plus it does a really good job of explaining and contextualizing K-pop if you’re a total beginner. It’s about Skye Shin, a fat, bisexual Korean American teen who is excited for the chance to audition for a reality TV show to find the next K-pop stars in the U.S. She nails her audition—but one of the judges thinks that Skye’s weight means she’s lazy, even though she has to work twice as hard. As the competition heats up and Skye inadvertently befriends another celebrity competing, she’ll find the pressure closing in on all sides. I’m especially excited about the adaptation news because there were so many great song and dance scene descriptions and I wished I could see the performances!

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Get a look at what it means to be a K-pop star in this fun book from Maurene Goo! It stars Lucky, one of the biggest stars whose career is on a meteoritic rise when she sneaks out of her hotel late one night in pursuit of a hamburger. She encounters Jack, whose mission is to sneak into said hotel and snap the perfect photos for the tabloid he secretly works for. Soon, their lives will never be the same. This is a fun spin on the classic film Roman Holiday, set in Hong Kong.

Shine by Jessica Jung

For a YA novel written from an authentic insider perspective, be sure to pick up this book when it comes out in September! Jung is the former singer of the band Girls Generation, and in this novel she tells the story of Korean American Rachel Kim. Rachel is recruited by one of the biggest labels to become a star. In exchange, she must work incredibly hard and not fall for anyone…but when the secrets of the industry begin to weigh heavily on her and Rachel begins to fall for one of the label’s biggest male stars, she must decide if she has what it takes to shine.

Whether you’re a long-time K-pop fan or new to the world, these books are lots of fun!

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