Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
XOXO by Axie Oh – Book Details
TITLE – XOXO
AUTHOR – Axie Oh
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2021
PAGE COUNT – 352
MY RATING – 3.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 3.92 of 5
What It Is About
“[…] when you’re afraid, your heart is closed, and it’s never the right time, but when your heart is open, and you’re willing to be brave enough to take a chance, the time is always right.”
Jenny is a cello prodigy who has only one dream in life – to get into one of the most prestigious music schools in New York. But after being told she misses a spark, she is determined to start taking bigger risks in life, hoping that will reflect on her performance as well.
Then she meets Jaewoo, a handsome, mysterious Korean boy who’s obviously hiding something. Determined to prove she can be spontaneous, Jenny allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone at least for one adventurous evening.
But even though she soon realizes she might be falling for him, the very next day Jaewoo stops texting her and disappears without a trace.
A few months later, Jenny arrives in South Korea to be closer to her sick grandmother and to start her semester at an elite arts academy. But – surprise, surprise – not only does she reencounter Jaewoo there; she also finds out he is actually a member of one of the most popular K-pop bands in the world.
XOXO by Axie Oh – My Review
I toss and turn until finally succumbing to a sleep full of fitful dreams of the boys of XOXO as they were in the music video, except the girl walking away is me.
Anyone who knows me at all knows I love YAs. Romance, mystery, literary fiction… Just give me a school setting, a bunch of teenagers still trying to figure out themselves, and I’m good.
So that was my main reason I was looking forward to XOXO by Axie Oh. And the second one was that, even though I am not into K-pop or dramas (not yet anyway 😉), more and more people I know are. And I guess I wanted to dip my toes using my favorite media and see where I stand with it.
This book was really cute. In many ways, I got exactly what I hoped for. The writing was nice and easy to sink into. The plot – a daydream fantasy about having a meet-cute with a boyband singer.
This is why I don’t like read receipts. It’s like psychological warfare. He knows I know that he read my message and chose not to respond.
All in all, XOXO had a lightheartedness to it which created a fun, easy atmosphere and made for an enjoyable read. Tropy and trashy, but not necessarily in a bad way. And in the center of it – a love story.
The romance between Jenny and Jaewoo was the classic tale of a girl who had no idea who she fell for and a boy who doesn’t get a lot of normality in his life.
Their love is also forbidden because K-pop stars are not allowed to date. And several scenes left me with a serious heartache for these guys.
“When you add another person into the mix, some people think it takes away from all of that. Like you have a person who is more important than all those other things, a part of your life you’re not sharing, when, as an idol, you agreed to share your whole life with your fans, so that they can love you without fear that you’ll disappoint or hurt them.”
I just wanted them to be together, damn it. Especially since the few scenes we got where Jenny and Jaewoo were on a date or just together alone – those scenes were adorable! I wanted more.
Also, the music school setting made for a really nice backdrop for their romance. And just all the talking about music and seeing how much it meant to them… It added a special flare to the whole thing.
One other thing I loved about this book were the side characters. There were lots of them that were done well, and a few of them you just have to love as much as the protagonists. Some great friendships were made.
(Plus, I’m sensing maybe a companion novel coming, featuring Sori and Nathaniel? I mean, I’d read it.)
“The people who live for tomorrow don’t take risks. They’re afraid of the consequences. While the people who live for today have nothing to lose, so they fight tooth and nail. I promise you can get the life you want now, if you just live in it.”
Ok, so what I didn’t like about this book?
Well, it pains me to say. But as much as I loved the romantic scenes in XOXO (and just to be clear – I did love them very much), I actually couldn’t quite feel the chemistry between Jaewoo and Jenny.
Their first encounter was a bit insta-crushy. The main bonding points between the two were more told than shown. And everything that happened later was built on that shaky foundation.
Also, though I liked the lightness of this book, I wish we actually got some problem solving going on. Every problem they encountered (forbidden love, sick family members, enemies-to-friends)… It was all either quickly resolved too easily to be believable, or blown out of proportions only to be resolved too easily to be believable later on in the story. It made the book sillier that it needed to be.
And one last thing – the pacing was a bit off at times. Especially when it comes to big, important events. The author just glossed over those parts, leaving me asking – wait, are we already done with it? But it barely just started.
A true musician doesn’t just perform a song but makes you feel something. And it’s clear with how my heart aches from the memory and the music, he has the spark. I want to ask him where it comes from, and how can I find it for myself.
All in all, whether you are going to enjoy this book or not depends on what you expect to get out of it. I would recommend it to people who enjoy YA romances, want a lighthearted pick-me-up read to pass time and are ok with overlooking small inconsistencies every once in a while.
Oh, and definitely if you need some K-pop reads in your life. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone turned Axie Oh’s XOXO into a K-drama soon. And I’d totally watch it.