Review: Once Upon a K-Prom

Young woman with her dark hair in a bun is standing facing a young man. There are stars and clouds above them as decoration. The title of the book is written over them.

Title: Once Upon a K-Prom
Author: Kat Cho
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 336
Availability: On shelves May 17, 2022
Review copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley

Publisher summary: Elena Soo has always felt overshadowed. Whether by her more successful older sisters, her more popular twin brother, or her more outgoing best friend, everyone except Elena seems to know exactly who they are and what they want. But she is certain about one thing – she has no interest in going to prom. While the rest of the school is giddy over corsages and dresses, Elena would rather spend her time working to save the local community center, the one place that’s always made her feel like she belonged.

So when international K-pop superstar Robbie Choi shows up at her house to ask her to prom, Elena is more confused than ever. Because the one person who always accepted Elena as she is? Her childhood best friend, Robbie Choi. And the one thing she maybe, possibly, secretly wants more than anything? For the two of them to keep the promise they made each other as kids: to go to prom together. But that was seven years ago, and with this new K-pop persona, pink hair, and stylish clothes, Robbie is nothing like the sweet, goofy boy she remembers. The boy she shared all her secrets with. The boy she used to love.

Besides, prom with a guy who comes with hordes of screaming fans, online haters, and relentless paparazzi is the last thing Elena wants – even if she can’t stop thinking about Robbie’s smile…right?

My thoughts: Kat Cho knows how to delight readers. This book has everything a K-drama and/or K-pop fan could want. Elena and her childhood friend have been out of touch for quite some time and don’t quite know how to read each other anymore. It’s a pleasure to see their story unfold. Of course there are many glitches as they dance around each other literally and figuratively.

With Robbie stepping back into her life, she is certainly getting attention from many people, but it’s not always the kind of attention Elena wants. Through it all, Elena just wants to be seen for herself. She isn’t entirely sure who she is becoming, but she wants people to see her and not her siblings or see her only in relation to who she knows. Even if readers have no interest in K-pop or K-dramas, that is something most people can relate to on some level.

The romance is a sweet one with childhood memories and getting to know each other again. The storyline has moments of tension as one would expect, but it always feels like a safe romcom. It’s not entirely predictable, but it’s comfortable like a cozy blanket. Elena has just enough to worry about to keep her on her toes, but nothing is incredibly overwhelming. It was a treat to read.

Recommendation: Get it as soon as you can especially if you are yearning for a romance with plenty of laughter and smiles.


If you are interested in this book, you may also want to check out some of the other K-Pop books that exist in YA. Here is our post with several more titles we’ve enjoyed.