Review: I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

i'll be the one

Title: I’ll Be the One
Author: Lyla Lee
Genres:  Contemporary
Pages: 336
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Review Copy: Library
Availability: Available now

Summary: The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her. She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho. But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: I say this about a lot of books — my TBR is a mile long! — but I really mean it when I say that I’ve been excited about I’ll Be the One from the moment I heard about it. “Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star” — who wouldn’t be on board with a premise like that?

I’ll Be the One follows Skye Shin as she takes on the kpop world by entering a reality TV competition. Along the way, she faces fat-phobic judges and viewers, dances her heart out, and finds romance with another competitor — Henry Cho, who is *clutches heart* just the sweetest. You’ll find yourself rooting for Skye’s success and smiling at her growing relationship, with all its ups and downs, with Henry Cho.

My favorite part of I’ll Be the One — well, there’s two. First: All the kpop references! And the gorgeous cover starring an amazing dancer. (Read this Epic Reads Q&A with the star of the cover, Isabel Jones, along with the author and editor.) Every time a new song was referenced that I hadn’t heard before, I put down my book to listen, and let me tell you, that’s a pretty great way to experience a story. After I finished reading, I ended up putting on the I’ll Be the One official spotify playlist and listening to it throughout the day… for days. It’s a good playlist!

My other favorite aspect of I’ll Be the One was the friendships explored — among Skye’s high school friends and the new friends she makes on set. Her new friends especially highlighted different obstacles they were facing in the kpop world and daily life. And I loved that Skye’s bisexuality was a key part of the book.

Reading I’ll Be the One was like listening to some of my favorite kpop songs — high energy, just a ton of fun, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. If you love kpop or you’re looking for a read to brighten your day, this is it. Get it soon! And put on Idol by BTS while you’re at it.

Recommendation: Get it soon!