I think I read I’ll Be the One in a day because I loved it so much. Lee is able to deliver conversations about fatphobia, fighting for our dreams, and characters who are as charming as they are talented. I am so excited to bring you Lyla’s pairings of great YA Books with K-Pop Songs!
I’ll Be the One
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.
YA Books & K-Pop Pairings!
If there’s anything I love as much as I love books, it’s probably K-pop, which probably explains how I ended up writing a book about it. My YA debut, I’ll Be the One, is about a bisexual Korean-American girl who enters an internationally broadcasted reality TV show competition in order to become one of the world’s first K-pop stars. I listened to SO much K-pop while writing this book, so I thought I would try my hand at matching five of my favorite YA books with K-pop songs!
1.) A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir – “On” by BTS
This song (and definitely the video!) has dark fantasy vibes, kickass choreography, and powerful lyrics that remind me of Sabaa Tahir’s AEITA universe (especially the “Can’t hold me down because you know I’m a fighter/Choosing to descend the dark abyss” part). If I were to make a playlist for AEITA, I would definitely put this in there as an Elias song!
2.) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – “Bboom Bboom” by MOMOLAND
TATBILB is all about the awkwardness and hilarious moments of falling in love (in the past and present), and this song is definitely embodies that! “Bboom Bboom” is onomatopoeia for the sound of a heart beating quickly (so it’s basically the sound of falling in love). Perfect for the cute romance in the book!
3.) On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – “WANNABE” by ITZY
On the Come Up is one of my favorite books because it’s about a very talented, rising rap star who does her best to stay true to herself+artistic vision, for better or worse. The lyrics “No matter what they say, I’m me, I just want to be me” and “I don’t want to be somebody, just wanna be me” really embody Bri’s confidence and self-reliance.
4.) The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black – “Obsession” by EXO
The best part of Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air series was (in my opinion) the love-hate relationship between Cardan and Jude, especially how neither of them really knew if they could trust each other (or anyone else!) until maybe the last book of the series. And despite this lack of trust, they can’t stop thinking about each other…which is perfectly represented in “Obsession” by EXO.
5.) What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera – “Feel Special” by TWICE
Both Arthur and Ben find each other when they least expect it: at a chance meeting in a post office. Thus begins a whirlwind, roller coaster romance that helps both of them come to accept themselves for who they are and feel seen in ways that they’ve never felt seen before. That’s very much the vibe in TWICE’s “Feel Special”!
Reminder to go pick up I’ll Be the One today!
About the Author
Lyla Lee is the author of the Mindy Kim series as well as the upcoming YA novel, I’ll Be The One (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins). Although she was born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids, petting cute dogs, and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice.