Candace Park is back in Stephan Lee’s newest book K-Pop Revolution. Days after the events of K-Pop Confidential, Candace is finally a Rookie idol, and her life is suddenly filled with the glamor that accompanies it. For the most part, everything seems to go right – Candace’s new girl group is set to break every record, things with YoungBae are going well, and Candace is ready to create change as the K-Pop Warrior. Thankfully her label, S.A.Y., promises to make industry changes. But when her group has a rocky debut, Candace faces intense scrutiny and must figure out why everyone is against her.
Something Lee does well with this book is examining how Candace explores her role as the K-Pop Warrior. Though her life is still largely controlled by S.A.Y., she’s more willing to speak up, thanks to Lena, S.A.Y.’s new CEO. This newfound power, though, calls into question what it really means to create change. Lee illustrates that it can take many forms and emphasizes how radical change is often the better method. Candace is a great example of this, especially as she helps another group step into the spotlight. Candace does engineer change. However, I like that Lee uses the rivaling group to force Candace to shift her perspective of what a true K-pop revolution might look like. Ultimately, it allows her to learn, and she’s all the better for it.
On a wider scale, Lee provides more insight into the idol debut process that helps build an immersive story. He expands upon the rest of Candace’s group, offering tidbits about each member as they adjust to the new changes within the company. It was interesting to read how they were still so set in their pre-Lena lives that they were hesitant to do certain things that were formerly prohibited. Additionally, Lee draws stark contrasts between the girls’ lives and male idols and trainees like One.J and YoungBae. He draws out the advantage both get because they’re male while also showing how S.A.Y.’s exploitative nature negatively affected them as well (albeit not nearly as drastically as the girls).
K-Pop Revolution is everything a sequel should be. It holds that same electrifying rush as its predecessor while offering something new. Lee’s writing guides readers through the epic highs and lows of idol life that will have them craving that same thrill Candace experiences at times. He provides a more in-depth look at both Candace’s groupmates and S.A.Y., adding layers to the story. Lee opens a whole new world with this book that retains its familiarity from its predecessor. It’s filled with twists, tension, and a whole lotta heart. Readers will have an absolute blast with this new installment.