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What you are willing to risk to make your dreams come true?

In “Shine,” Jessica Jung takes readers behind the scenes of the glamorous world of K-pop, offering a glimpse into the sacrifices and struggles faced by aspiring idols. At the center of the story is Rachel Kim, a 17-year-old Korean-American teenager who dreams of becoming a successful K-pop idol. Recruited by DB Entertainment, one of the largest companies in the industry, Rachel must navigate a world of strict rules, intense practice sessions, and cutthroat competition.

The rules of being a trainee are simple: 24/7 hours practice, no dating, diet, no phone, etc. Forced to adhere to a grueling schedule that leaves little time for personal relationships or self-care, Rachel finds herself facing the envy of fellow trainees and scandalous rumors.

Is she strong enough to get through it all and become a successful K-pop idol? 

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I am a fan of K-pop and K-drama which is the reason why I picked up this book. Jessica Jung who wrote it, is the ex. member of Girls’ Generation, one of the most famous Korean girl groups. Shine is her first debut. However, what I found was a story that fell short of my expectations. 

Rachel Kim, as the main character was obviously a bit of inspiration from Jessica Jung’s life experiences with a fictional twist. But do remember as Jessica mention that this is not an autobiography book. 

Well, it took me 5 months to finish reading this book. Honestly speaking it’s completely beyond what I expected. There is no strong storyline has been developed regarding the lives of Rachel as a trainee and her surroundings.  Most of the part, turns into a story of Rachel’s relationship with Jason Lee ( the superstar of DB entertainment), how they are sending cute messages, having secret dates, go to Tokyo, etc. It is a bit full of clichés and melodrama, with little attention given to the intricacies of the K-pop industry.

In Shine, the conflict between Rachel and Mina (the other trainee) is just a story of an ordinary fight, it is disappointingly shallow. The one and only Rachel’s friend in DB, Akari, suddenly disappears from the narrative.  And just like that, the book is closed with Rachel, Mina, and other girls finally joining into one group and being debuted (no story tells how this group came to be, it’s just based on the announcement by DB that a new group will be formed and the names of its members are called). It’s a disappointing ending to a narrative that promised much but ultimately failed to deliver.


Actually, when I read the summary, I thought the book will tell much about what a trainee has to get through to become an idol such as undergo intense training, competing with each other for the spotlight, their sacrifices, hard preparations, and despair until they are ready to be debuted. Kind of a touching story so we can appreciate that being trainees are not as simple as what we see on the outside. We can assume that to become an idol needs talent, hard work, consistency, passion, and so on. But unfortunately, it doesn’t tell about that. Is it possible Shine will sell well if not for Jessica Jung name? Hhmm…. 

In conclusion, “Shine” is a missed opportunity to shed light on the complexities of the K-pop industry and the sacrifices made by those who aspire to fame and fortune. While Jessica Jung’s star power may attract readers initially, the lack of storytelling and shallow character development ultimately undermine the book’s potential.

Book Rating 

2 from 5 stars


Writer: Jessica Jung

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Year: 2020

Author: QiuQiu

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