Disney Channel Original Movie
I decided to try this title as I am a huge fan of K-Pop and was in the mood to read something related to the genre’s fandom. Several Teen Fiction novels revolve around the K-Pop explosion in popular culture over the past few years, so I’m hoping a few of these will be hits. This one was so/so.
Elena Soo is the youngest of five children, all of who get more attention and adoration from her parents than she does. At school, she’s pretty much invisible, and even though her twin brother Ethan is one of the popular kids, it does nothing to raise her social standing with her peers. She has two friends, and the book centers around her desire to not go to prom and instead try and raise money to save the local community center where she volunteers. The community center gives her a sense of identity as the kids rely upon her and make her feel special, whereas she is overlooked in every other aspect of life. Her lack of excitement over prom is another negative in the eyes of her family and peers until her old friend turned KPop sensation, Robbie Choi, shows up out of the blue to ask her to prom.
Overall this is a very tame, VERY Disney teenage rom-com. It reminded me a ton of my youth’s classic Disney channel movies. It was adorable, almost cutesy, and would probably have a banging soundtrack to accompany the film. I empathize with Elena for being so overlooked and poorly treated by those around her, but I can’t say I enjoyed her as a character. I struggle loving characters that lack any backbone, and Elena just constantly allows people to walk all over her as she thinks it will cause more problems to speak up. All the drama (not equal to K-Dramas, despite what the book says ten times) is related to teenagers being teenagers and Elena never telling people how she feels. The novel’s best parts were the interactions between Robbie’s KPop group, as they felt fun and exciting. I might have enjoyed this more had it been entirely told from Robbie’s POV. The characterization of Robbie wasn’t the greatest, but at least I was interested in his backstory and the KPop world more than Elena’s woe is me. I’m not like other girls’ narration.
I can see this being very popular with teenage girls, especially those who aren’t looking for fantasy novels or anything too spicy. It’s sweet, cute, and very much on Disney romance’s High School Musical side and served its purpose. I am not the target demo for this novel, but it was a quick read, and it’s always nice to daydream that Robbie is JHope from BTS.
Title: Once Upon a K-Prom
Author: Kat Cho
Three Descriptors: Feel Good, Romantic, Friends to Lovers
I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee
Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo
XOXO by Axie Oh
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han