by Allana Luta
When she finds herself in the middle of a scandal and a hostile fangirl witch hunt, Fi seeks the comfort of home, and to her surprise, not the person she had been pining for for years. All too suddenly it’s no longer her career on the line, but also her heart. Will she walk away from everything that matters to her or fight to keep her dream alive? Get a copy: Amazon (ebook), via the author (print) / Read reviews: Goodreads
WHAT I LIKED
I really liked how Tara delved into the unsavory parts of K-pop fandom. Having read Summer Crush before diving into Scandalized, I already had an inkling of what Scandalized was about but I didn’t realize how rooted in reality Fi’s situation was going to be. There were news articles and forum messages littered in between chapters that showed how East Genesis Project’s fans were reacting to the group leader’s, Yihwan, scandals (yes, plural, the poor boy). (Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) Fi was snapped accompanying a drunken Yihwan back to his hotel room and later leaving the room with a different outfit, which the fans noticed were Yihwan’s clothes (dude, fans notice everything). Immediately, rumors of Fi sleeping with all the members started floating in the East Genesis fandom and she became the target of threats and online bullying, the most vitriolic comments having the highest upvotes in the news articles. As a long time K-pop fan myself, the comments sounded all too familiar and I could tell that Tara knew what she was writing about.
In the midst of all the drama, you’d think the romance would feel a little bit forced but it was done tastefully and appropriately for Fi’s situation. I love slow burn, and though Scandalized felt a little short for a proper, drawn out slooow burn, I liked how Tara still gave the characters time to dissect their feelings for one another. I also knew who Fi was going to end up with so it was fun reading how their relationship progressed.
Another thing I appreciated were the comments shipping Yihwan with his fellow EG Project member Steven. Very relatable.
Lastly, and this isn’t even related to the story itself, Tara is a fellow DBSK fan and I just want to give her a high five and a hug at the same time.
Running the risk of sounding like the most gossipy aunt, I wish we were given more glimpses into Fi’s family life. It’s not that important to the story but Fi’s father was never mentioned, not even in passing, and I thought it was an interesting omission. Could it have been used to explain further Fi’s hesitation in confessing her feelings from the get go? Who knows. This is just me being a nosy neighbor.
And this one is definitely nitpicking but Gabriel, another major character, sounds too perfect to be real. He’s described as physically dreamy, someone who could be mistaken for a celebrity, and he’s really nice to Fi (well, duh, he likes her) and he doesn’t seem to have any noticeable flaw in his DNA. Is that a thing in romance novels? Maybe that’s a thing in romance novels. I don’t really know.
Don’t be fooled by the mention of K-pop, this is not the typical fangirl fantasy of meeting one’s idol and all that sugar, spice and everything nice. Scandalized explores the darker facet of fandom and balances it with the right amount of humor and romance. It’s sweet and well-written and will leave even non-K-pop fans feeling kilig. ☁