Review: Shine by Jessica Jung

Title: Shine
Author: Jessica Jung
Series: Shine #1
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 2 stars

A Korean American teen is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Girls Generation.

What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?

For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?

Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.


The moment I saw a kpop novel was coming out written by someone who was a member of one of the biggest girl groups of all time I knew my kpop loving ass needed to get my hands on this book immediately. It sounded like everything I would love.

Unfortunately, I didn’t love this at all. The writing was perfectly good. I have no complaints about that. I don’t know if Jessica used a ghost writer, but if she didn’t damn this girl is truly multi-talented.

I didn’t like the story. I didn’t like the characters. Everything felt so one dimensional to me. I went into this hoping for a 4/4.5 star book, but I feel like even 2 might be generous. The romance didn’t do much for me either. I thought Jason was quite boring and kind of an ass, but in an irredeemable way. And the mean girls seemed like the kind you’d find in a teen novel/film circa 2010. It completely fell flat for me. I hate that because I really did want to love this book.

The most disappointing part was the ending. Throughout the entire story Rachel is trying to fight against the mean girls and to rise above all the pettiness while doing it in order to debut with the new girl group, but in the end she just seemed to become one of them. There was not a single ounce of character development. I know there’s at least a second novel coming out so maybe Rachel and the other girls can find a heart then. Not only that, but all the events at the ending almost seemed like they negated the rest of the story. Like nothing that happened mattered. It was just messy and I didn’t like it.

About Jessica Jung:

Jessica Jung, known mononymously as Jessica, is an American singer, actress, and fashion designer known for her work as a former member of South Korean girl group Girls’ Generation.