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Book Review: ASAP by Axie Oh

Book Review: ASAP by Axie Oh

Nothing brings me as much giddy joy as a fun, escapist, well-crafted romance novel and, after spending one very wet and windy Sunday curled up at home and racing through these pages, it’s fair to say that Axie Oh’s latest novel more than delivered on its promise of a joyful, swoony read. ASAP sees Oh return to the fast-paced, glamorous world of K-pop in a companion novel to 2021 bestseller XOXO, delivering a compelling and entertaining exploration of family ties, career plans and finding the strength to go after what you want, all alongside a sweet second chance romance plot that will leave you swooning page after page.

Sori has worked her whole life to become a K-pop idol, but lately she’s been feeling that she may not want a life in the spotlight after all. Between her mother’s role as the CEO of a K-pop entertainment company and her father’s presidential aspirations, however, the decisions over her future may not actually be up to Sori alone. With the pressure on Sori to maintain her flawless public image, the last thing she needs is to start thinking about her ex-boyfriend Nathaniel – not least because, as a member of one of the world’s biggest K-pop bands, he’s forbidden from dating, making him entirely off limits.

But Sori can’t help but remember that their whirlwind romance two years earlier was the last time that she felt truly happy, and when Nathaniel finds himself caught up in a paparazzi storm after a scandal that she may or may not have had a part in, the least Sori can do is offer him her home as a place to hide away. Back in close proximity for the first time in years, it becomes increasingly difficult for both Sori and Nathaniel to deny their old feelings for each other. Still, faced with familiar problems of fame, family and the lofty expectations placed on them both, there’s still one big decision that Sori has to make: is her future worth sacrificing for a second chance at love?

My eyes dart to his and my breath catches at the look in his eyes. ‘You should be wary about setting rules with me,’ he says, his voice like silk. ‘You should know I live to break them.’”

Even if you hadn’t read XOXO before picking up this book, it doesn’t take long to realise that ASAP is a book that’s been tailor-made for K-Drama fans, and it truly hits every note. Between the second chance romance, found family and celebrity romance of it all, this novel delivers so many extra microtropes that to list them all would be both difficult and full of spoilers, but there’s absolutely no denying that it delivers on every front.

At the heart of it all is, of course, the romance story itself. Sori and Nathaniel’s chemistry is undeniable on every page they share together. Their relationship has seen them go from friends to high school sweethearts to exes who still care deeply for one another, and all of that love, care and history is palpable throughout all of their interactions, which comes in very handy when the main drive of the novel takes place over such a relatively short period of time.

Sori, too, is a wonderful character, and her struggles are all very relatable. Between maintaining a long-distance friendship with best friend Jenny, trying to meet both of her parents’ expectations, and her uncertainty over her plans for her future, there’s very little about Sori’s narrative that won’t land with someone at some point while reading. It makes Sori a very realistic character, and an empathetic one too, which only means that you’re rooting for Sori to get her happy ending all the more.

Amidst all of this, ASAP also offers readers a peek behind the K-pop curtain and the Korean entertainment industry, allowing for very glamorous backdrops of world tours, music videos and concerts, before venturing even further out into the worlds of TV dramas, modelling and fashion shows. It makes for a read that’s a whole lot of fun, but it also offers a bit of insight into the power structure at play behind closed doors. For Sori in particular, it exposes the complicated family dynamics involved that are ultimately playing a big role in her own decision making. It all means that Axie Oh’s latest novel is a fun and romantic novel that offers up the perfect escape, giving readers the chance to swap gloomy winter days for fame, showbiz and music in Seoul and some very swoonworthy (and enjoyably trope-y) romantic situations besides.

It’s not always perfect – the main conflict between Sori and Nathaniel felt a bit too repetitive and the narrative was resolved much too quickly to give readers time to enjoy the outcome. Personally, I would have loved to have seen more from Nathaniel and his family (and I will never miss an opportunity to read a chapter or two from the love interest’s point of view too!) – but ASAP is a book that brings a whole lot of joy with it, and you can guarantee that by the end of this novel, readers will be left with a big grin on their face and a desire to seek out even more from this author, and these characters especially.


ASAP is published by HarperTeen on 15 February 2024

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