Published by HarperTeen on July 13, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Representation: Korean cast, Korean American protagonist
Format: ARC, eBook
Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.
Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.
When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.
A copy of the book was provided for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore does not affect the opinion or content of the review.
Trigger Warnings: bullying, terminal illness
I don’t know if it’s me (who likes food) or my book choices (very possible), but lately all the books I’ve been reading have been filled with mouth watering, delicious food descriptions. XOXO is no exception as Axie Oh takes us on a trip with Jenny and her mother to South Korea to take care of her grandmother. From kimchi pajeon to gimbap, you don’t want to open this book up on an empty stomach.
Outside of the food, I loved the different relationships.
- Jaewoo and Jenny – cute and adorable romance (that starts with them meeting at a noraebang or karaoke bar), that is all.
- XOXO members (and with Jenny) – if I weren’t already preoccupied in multiple fandoms… (no but seriously, I actually wouldn’t mind if someone could manifest XOXO to life. I’d listen to their music in a heartbeat)
- I’m such a sucker for bromance.
- Jenny’s new friends – Angela and Gi Taek were quick to adopt Jenny the moment they meet at Seoul Arts Academy, and although Sori starts out as cold roommate who would would likely murder with a look, she eventually opens up as the book progresses
- Her mother and grandmother – Axie Oh only touches the surface between Jenny’s grandmother and mother, but I still like how this was explored even at a surface level (especially considering Jenny goes to South Korea so she wouldn’t have to spend an entire semester alone at home)
I think there could’ve been some development with a few storylines such as with Jenny’s mother and grandmother, Sori and Nathaniel, and even among the XOXO members. The book went by at a very quick pace that sometimes it was hard to immerse into the story because we’d go from point A to point B within a few paragraphs.
Overall, XOXO was cute and adorable as hell, and I think this might be my favorite book set in K-Pop. XOXO checks off quite a few boxes for me: cute romance, friendship goals and of course the food (the most important part). Whether or not you’re already a K-Pop fan or just a fan of cute romances, Axie Oh’s latest novel is a perfect, feel-good quick and light summer read.