Book Review (ARC): XOXO by Axie Oh

Buckle up kiddos because this book was SO. MUCH. FUN. 

From boarding school adventures to secret romances with celebrities, XOXO is a book that is pure trashy (yet heartwarming) goodness. If you need a pick-me-up, are a K-Pop fan, or simply looking to marathon a K-Drama but don’t have time, this is the book for you!

XOXO by Axie Oh

PUBLISHED BY HarperTeen (HarperCollins) on July 13th 2021

GENRE: Contemporary

PAGES: 352

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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.

XOXO follows Jenny and Jaewoo who meet unexpectedly in Los Angeles at Jenny’s uncle noraebang, or karaoke bar. They have a magical night of dancing, singing, and exploring the city before Jaewoo suddenly leaves. Three months later, Jenny and her mother move to South Korea to care for her ailing grandmother, and while she’s there, she’s enrolled in Seoul’s most prestigious arts academy. 

When she arrives at the school, she unexpectedly runs into Jaewoo who turns out to be the most popular idol in Korea’s most popular boy band, XOXO. You can think of the plotline as True Beauty meets Dream High plus any cheesy and fun pop-star Wattpad story…but MAN WAS THIS BOOK FUN. 

All the side characters in this book were also a joy to meet. We have Sori, Jenny’s roommate who’s cold at first but slowly opens up throughout the book. There’s Nathaniel, Jaewoo’s Korean American bandmate and Angela and Gi Taek, Jenny’s first friends at Seoul Arts Academy (Angela’s also Taiwanese American…my heart!!). Angela and Gi Taek honestly remind me of Soo Ah and Tae Hoon from True Beauty.

The reason why I have to dock a star is because the pacing is SOOO rushed to the point where it hinders the reading experience. The book essentially tries to cram an entire season of a K-Drama into a mere 300 pages, but while a Korean drama would have the flexibility and at least 16 episodes to give the viewer time to breathe and absorb what’s going on, that’s not the case here.

Since there’s so much content and ~iconic scenes~ for the plot to cover, a lot of the writing feels more “tell” than “show.” We gloss over important events, and scenes begin to blend together. Truthfully, it was often an information overload because one important event would happen right after another without any time for rest.

However, XOXO was still an incredibly fun read with wonderful girl power friendships and heartwarming family moments between daughter, mother, and grandmother. We also have an honest discussion of mental health and idol life in the Korean entertainment industry as well as carving out one’s identity in the country your family is from. 

All in all, XOXO was the book I needed to get me out of a reading slump. A lot of the events aren’t realistic, but sometimes, you just want a story that will make you smile. This book is perfect for any K-Pop/K-Drama fan or if you just need something to brighten your day. Now…how do I contact the author to write a second book to wrap up the storylines of the side characters.

Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Have you read XOXO?

What were your thoughts?

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23 thoughts on “Book Review (ARC): XOXO by Axie Oh

    1. ahhh this book is perfect for you if you love kdramas, abby! i can’t wait for you to read it 🥰

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  1. Lovely review Tiffany! I was interested in what you said about the writing being more of a tell rather than show type of book, which is a bummer. Nevertheless, as a Kpop fan I am 100% going to give it a shot. Great post!

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    1. thank you so much for reading, saniya! it’s still definitely a super fun book that i would recommend, but i wish it were longer or cut out some things to help with the pacing. i think you’ll still love it~! ❤️

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  2. I have this book planned for April but reading this makes me going to pick it up now! Especially since you mentioned it’s perfect if we want to binge k-drama but doesn’t have the time, which is literally me rn 😀 I can’t stop imagining Jaewoo as Jaehyun and the school as SOPA tbh, especially since I keep getting flashes of Jaehyun in its yellow uniform everytime I read “Jaewoo” lol.

    It sucks about the pacing but I’m glad you still enjoyed this book nonetheless! ❤

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    1. ahhh i’m so excited for you to read it, tasya! i can definitely see jaewoo and jaehyun!! i think i saw him as jungkook 😂 and the school is DEFINITELYYYYYY SOPA!! if you loved true beauty or dream high, you’ll love this book 😍

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  3. I RECOGNIZED THAT KDRAMA FROM THE GIF (i think) and i didn’t even watch it yet… (love alarm?!?!) but also omg i need to read this

    WAIT I JUST SAW ON YOUR CURRENT READS YOU’RE READING THAT VILLAINESS WEBTOON OMG IT’S SO GOOD

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    1. omg my hot take is that i didn’t really enjoy love alarm….BUT THIS BOOK IS GREAT DEF WOULD RECOMMEND. AND WEBTOONS GIVE ME LIFE AHH.

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  4. Ooooo this book sounds like such a cute fluffy one that I’m now gonna have to shuffle onto my TBR hehe. Oof about the pacing though, like you said though sometimes you just need a book that’s gonna make you smile. Lovely review Tiff 💜

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  5. XOXO was on my TBR already, but now I’m even more excited to read it! I don’t watch k-dramas, so a lot of your references flew over my head, but I still think I’m going to enjoy this one! My plan is to pick it up when school inevitably stresses me out, since it seems to be a light, fun read!

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