4.5 stars · book review

Review : Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Title : Somewhere Only We Know
Author : Maurene Goo
Genre : YA contemporary
Release Date : May 7th, 2019
Publisher : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux



10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

When I first stumbled upon this book, one thing that made me interested is actually the setting. It’s not often that I found a book set in a places I’ve been, and Somewhere Only We Know was one of the few that’s set in a city I’ve visited, Hong Kong. And of course, bonus point for the modern Roman Holiday retelling. I’m a sucker for ‘wandering through the city’ kind of story, and this one is no different.

Somewhere Only We Know tells the story of Lucky, a K-pop star who’s getting weary with stardom. She used to love singing so much, that she went to Korea alone so she could be a K-pop star. And she did. But no one told her that after you achieve the dream and doing it over and over again, you’d start to hate it. Unlike Lucky, Jack was afraid to achieve his dream, which is to become a professional photographer. So he did the closest thing–interning as a scandalous tabloid’s photographer. Until one night after Lucky’s last performance in Hong Kong, they accidentally meet and unbeknownst to them, it’d change their life.

Most of the events in this book occurred in one day, so I figured I’d match it and read it in one day. One thing you should know is everything in this book is fast : fast plot, fast pace, and even fast romance. So eventhough I’m not a fast reader, I was able to finish it in one day because I just couldn’t stop reading about their journey. There’s just something beautiful and magical about spending your day (and night) together with a stranger, wandering through the equally foreign city.

As for the characters, both of them are equally likeable and they have this easy chemistry going on since the beginning. So it come to no one’s surprise that I’m shipping them from the start. Eventhough technically they were only together for 24 hours, Maurene Goo manages to not make it looks like insta-love. It’s like they’re just two friends who’d known each other for a while instead of two people who’d just met the night before.

Eventhough this book seems like a ‘light and quick’ read due to the fast pace, it also deals with some issues, especially regarding the dark truths behind K-pop star’s life. It’s not really a secret that their life is practically controlled by their agents and they have very little say in what they want to do with their own life. This mostly cause Lucky to suffer from anxiety and has to take meds (secretly, of course) for it. Not only that, this book also tackle the issue about parent’s expectation for their children. Jack wanted to be a photographer, but his parents wanted him to choose a more “clear” and viable career. This is why I could relate to Jack more–my parents did the exact same thing back when I’m about to choose my major. Unlike Jack though, I choose something that pleased my parents in the end, and even if I didn’t exactly hate it, sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder how would it be if I choose differently.

All in all, Somewhere Only We Know is a story about two people whose life change when they meet each other. While at first glance it might be a light read, it also made me learn a thing or two about life. It’s my first Maurene Goo’s books, and it definitely won’t be the last.

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