Yubin knows she’s different than the other girls in the pop group SIITY. Yes, they all got sucked into the same machine, giving up schooling and signing ridiculously long contracts with no guarantee of success, but that’s how Korean stars are made. Yubin is supposed to be thankful for that, but she isn’t. She doesn’t even like the girls she performs with.
She’s more connected to her former schoolmate Jieun, even though all they ever do is text. Over the last two months, Jieun has become her confidant and best friend, connecting Yubin to the real world in a way she desperately needs. Now that SIITY is going to appear on the reality show Incredible Race: Asia, Yubin will need that connection more than ever, which is why she’s devastated to discover Jieun has been dead five years and is actually haunting her.
If that weren’t enough, Yubin’s not the only SIITY member with issues. Rena’s father is emotionally abusive. Somi has a learning disability, and after a near death experience, Tae-eun becomes a nine-tailed fox woman. The only way they’ll survive the show, each other, and the supernatural currents buffeting them is to work together and win the hearts of their fans. Because if they don’t, they have nothing to go back to even if they survive what’s trying to kill them.
I was compelled to give it a go because I feel like the urban fantasy/paranormal genre is in a bit of a rut with the same tropes being recycled time and time again so the word ‘K-pop’ caught my eye, an almost exclusively female cast and paranormal beings from a culture I’m not overly familiar with: perfection.
Prince is an amazing writer, she gave each character their own distinctive voices and personalities which, though I didn’t really like them all, made them a pleasure to listen to/read.
Yubin, one of the main character, is an empath and presumably one of the characters we should like the most but I didn’t like her mentality at all – she openly admits to herself that she doesn’t socialise with her bandmates or anyone else because they’re not worth her time and she’s superior to them. Yeeeesh, even if she does get better over time I’m not a huge fan of her attitude.
Her bandmates all have their own issues going on, both supernatural and real-world. I really liked the fact that Somi, one of the bandmates, has ADHD and partial hearing which are both presented as character traits rather than exploited or used as a cheap plot device.
It’s funny that I could really empathise with all of the characters apart from the empath!
In terms of violence and action, this book starts off with mild supernatural content and then works its way up to a wonderfully violent conclusion, with some mild gore, which I really enjoyed! These young women are finally starting to bond and hopefully working their way towards a sequel! You get to meet shapeshifters, magic, poltergeists and psychic powers which are presented in a way you may not have read before.
Goodreads categorises this book as YA, I’d argue that as long as you count ‘young adult’ as 18+ then yep, it’s YA. This book does feature some nastier themes like non-graphic sexual abuse, so gird your loins before starting.
Amy Landon rocked the narration of this story, she does a variety of different character voices with Korean accents and does so convincingly and without overdoing it (a pet hate of mine). Her reading voice is both interesting and relaxing which I enjoyed. This is an 11.5 hour audiobook and I listened to it in long chunks without any loss of attention!
Fingers crossed there’ll be another book out with these characters but I’ll be waiting for the audio to get the full effect.
*Thank you to the author for a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest and unbiased review*