Title: Idol Gossip
Author: Alexandra Leigh Young
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Published: September 14th, 2021 (Walker Books US)
Synopsis: Every Friday after school, dressed in their new South Korean prep-school uniforms — sweater vests, knee-highs, pleated skirts, and blazers — seventeen-year old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong, brave a dank, basement-level stairwell full of graffiti, and slip into a noreabang. Back in San Francisco, when she still had friends and earthly possessions, Alice took regular singing lessons. But since their diplomat mom moved them to Seoul, she pours herself into karaoke, vamping it up in their booth to Lady Gaga while loyal Olivia applauds and howls with laughter.
Alice lives for Fridays, but when an older woman stops her on their way out one day, handing Alice a business card with a bow, singing turns serious. Could the chance encounter really be her ticket to elite status at Top10 Entertainment’s Star Academy? With a little sisterly support, backed by one of the world’s top talent agencies, can Alice lead her group on stage before a stadium of 50,000 chanting fans — and just maybe strike K-pop gold? Not if a certain influential blogger and the anti-fans get their way.
Delicious gossip squares off with genuine heart in a debut about standing out and fitting in, dreaming big and staying true — for avid K-pop fans and those just discovering the worldwide cultural phenomenon.
Thank you to the publisher, Candlewick Press, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Having recently moved from San Francisco to Seoul for their mom’s job, Alice Choy and her little sister Olivia have had a difficult time settling in. Alice, who took regular voice lessons back home, misses singing and agrees when Olivia convinces her to try karaoke, which becomes a weekly activity that the sisters enjoy. One day, Alice is approached by a talent scout from Top10 Entertainment, a talent agency, and she invites Alice to an open audition for Star Academy, where future K-pop groups train. Despite having no dance skills, Alice is accepted due to her great singing, and she moves into the academy, finding herself in a completely new environment, joining the group that will debut as A-List in just a few short months. But the other four girls have been training together for quite some time and Alice, as the newcomer, struggles to find her place and has to work extremely hard to make it to the same level so that she will be ready to perform with them on time.
First things first, I know next to nothing about K-pop, so readers more familiar with this type of music and the industry can comment about how accurately this book portrays it all. Apart from that though, this book was a really interesting insider type of view into the industry, what the idol’s lives are like, and how fans (and anti-fans) can have such a strong influence on them. It’s also set in a boarding school which is one of my favorite tropes, and following Alice on her journey and seeing the inner workings of what training can be like was fascinating.
As far as the characters go, I liked Aria, the leader of Alice’s group. While she initially appears to be controlling, it becomes obvious very quickly how much the group means to her and the pressure she, along with the other girls, have about making the upcoming debut work. Alice, from whose perspective the story is narrated, was not a particularly likeable character at the beginning and was quite self centered. However, the author has done a great job with her arc and Alice really grows as a character throughout the book.
The ending was a bit abrupt and I would have liked a more comprehensive conclusion since I still have quite a few questions. Of course, if this is intended to have a sequel, it’s an excellent place to end this book, but I didn’t really get the feel of there being one planned. Still, it would be great to see a sequel for Idol Gossip and I would definitely read it! Overall, I really enjoyed this book despite my extremely limited knowledge of the subject matter, and I thought it was a very unique concept for a story. Highly recommended!
Idol Gossip releases on September 14th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!