“XOXO” by Axie Oh | Book Review

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“Cellist Jenny Go has one thing on her mind: getting accepted into her dream music school in Manhattan. After receiving a critique about lacking artistry, she gives in to a moment of insanity and spends the night roaming the streets of Los Angeles with a boy she’s just met at her uncle’s karaoke bar. The night ends as quickly as it began, but the pair exchange contact information. When Jaewoo stops responding to her texts, she does her best to forget him and focus on music . . . until she moves to South Korea for a semester and finds out he’s a student at her new school. Not only that, he’s a member of XOXO, a new K-pop band taking the world by storm. Now a relationship is a possibility, but it means sacrificing their respective music paths. Will Jenny choose cello over Jaewoo, or is she willing to give up her dream for the boy she’s falling in love with?”

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I don’t consume contemporary romance on a regular basis, but I turned to “XOXO” to fill a hole left by the disappointing romance in my last read. Unfortunately I didn’t fully connect with Jaewoo and Jenny as individual characters therefore their romance did not interest me in the slightest. Jaewoo was fine but not particularly interesting; he actually reminds me of myself which makes sense because I’m pretty boring. I didn’t like Jenny’s irresponsibility every time Jaewoo was in the near vicinity, missing cello practices and cancelling plans with friends. I understand this behavior is normal for a teenage girl with a boy on her radar, but it always irks me. 

Setting my romance disappointment aside, the writing is well done, and I flew through every single chapter. My favorite part was Seoul Arts Academy. I was fully invested in the goings-on at SAA and might’ve given this book a higher rating if it was centered around the school and students. I also loved all the mentions of food, even though it made me insanely hungry. Every single dish sounds delicious, and I need to find a local Korean restaurant ASAP. Those factors saved this book, bringing my rating to a total of three stars. I think “XOXO” will appeal much more to readers of this genre who are used to cute romances and young adult behavior. I can only handle so much before I’m annoyed so I’m definitely not a member of the target audience. However, the friendships and school shenanigans won my heart so I will be rereading this book in the future. 

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Trigger Warnings:

Dieting: In Chapter 13, eBook page 99, Angela asks why Gi Taek isn’t eating. He replies that he’s on a diet, & she remarks that he shouldn’t skip meals. On eBook Page 120, Gi Taek mentions being on a diet again.

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Content Breakdown:

*Disclaimer: I am very thorough so just know that this section might contain SPOILERS.

Grammar & Spelling

eBook Page 75 – “ . . . having never been this situation before” instead of “. . . having never been in this situation before”

eBook Page 82 – “A familiar figures steps from the wings . . . ” instead of “A familiar figure steps from the wings . . . ”

eBook Page 184 – “An hour and half later . . .” doesn’t make as much sense as “An hour and a half later . . .”

eBook Page 193 – “ ‘Okay, now I think that everyone’s,’ Ian says . . .” instead of “ ‘Okay, now I think that’s everyone,’ Ian says . . .”

Language

B*tch – Said twice

B*llsh*t – Said once

D*ammit – Said 3 times

D*mn – Said 8 times

G*d – Said 19 times

Scr*w [everyone else] – Said once

Sh*t – Said twice

Sh*tty – Said once

Sl*t – Said twice

Religion

Chapter 27, eBook Pages 192 to 196 – During their camping trip, some of the Seoul Arts Academy students hike up the campsite mountain to a shrine dedicated to the located mountain sansin (deity).

Sensual/Sexual Moments

Chapter 16, eBook Pages 113 to 116 – While alone in a closet, Jaewoo & Jenny almost kiss before the door abruptly opens.

eBook Page 168 – Jaewoo & Jenny kiss on a swing set while alone in a park at night. On eBook page 181 Jenny says that they “made out for half an hour.”

eBook Page 177 – Sori tells Jenny that there will be very little adult supervision on the school camping trip so she might have a chance to “get into Jaewoo’s pants.”

eBook Page 208 – Kissing

eBook Page 210 – Jenny tells Jaewoo all about her first experience at a bathhouse, humorously saying her friends Angela & Sori saw more of her than her mom in recent years. He suggestively texts back “I wish I could have been there.”

eBook Page 214 – Jenny runs off to meet Jaewoo, & Gi Taek says “Have fun. Don’t get pregnant.”

eBook Page 215 – Jaewoo & Jenny hug & kiss in a fifth floor corner of the school, a blind spot from the security cameras.

eBook Page 229 – Jenny tells Sori to cover for her at the dorms because she’s staying at Jaewoo’s mother’s apartment due to the rain. Sori suggestively texts back “GET IT GIRL!!!!!”

eBook Page 231 – Jenny falls in asleep in Jaewoo’s bed. He eventually wakes her up, & she goes back to his sister Joori’s room.

eBook Page 248 – Kissing

eBook Pages 248 to 249 – Jaewoo & Jenny reserve a karaoke room for thirty minutes, Once they turn on some music, they spend the whole time kissing. Aside from removing each other’s shirts, nothing else happens.

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🌟 Find author Axie Oh here:

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