Chick Lit Review # 8: Popped by Chinggay Labrador

I actually just bought this book the other day, and shouldn’t be at the top of my review list considering my backlog.  But I was intrigued by the premise, and dug right in.  So, after a day of just consuming this story happily, I had to run to the mall to get a copy of Coffee Prince and the author’s new magazine, Sparkling.  Yes, I liked Popped that much.

I’ve never been much of a Koreanovela fan, much less K-Pop, and Summit’s newest title promised nothing but pure Korean fun.  Add to that the fact that Labrador’s novel is about twenty-five percent longer than typical Summit books, and I should’ve just gone to the next option (Mina V. Esguerra’s No Strings Attached, which I’m reading now and will review soon).  But there was something really curious about all this Korea- and K-Pop hype, and might as well find out WTF it’s all about. 

Some might think of Popped in terms of finding love amid the crossing of cultures, but really the story is about friendship and how the best of them is all you need to go through life without being judged.  It’s the story of Andie and her BFFs Trixie, Cesca, and Nica—all K-Pop-loving girls whose lives have been taken over by their obsessions with Coffee Prince and the fictitious (I assume) K-Pop group Movement.  From taking Korean language lessons to fighting their way in line to a K-Pop concert to traveling miles away to Japan and Korea, these girls made sure they had the one important thing that symbolized both their Korean fixation and their tight friendship—FUN.  Taking the journey with them made me feel like I was witnessing one long moment of group hysteria, but oddly enough, it actually felt real and exciting.  Labrador was able to capture nuances of both Japanese and Korean cultures, without making it sound like a travelogue or geography lesson, right down to the kawaii touch and the spicy Korean street cuisine.  I was there when they finally met their idols, and felt kilig myself when things turned out cute and rosy for Andie and Mac Park, and Trixie and Joon of the permed hair.  The story ended on a high note, pun intended.  I would actually go so far as ask that Ms. Labrado write a sequel immediately—I really want to know what will happen to the girls, and am excited to join them in another adventure.

Much as I enjoyed Popped, I did notice some elements that I felt were unnecessary or unresolved:  (1) what was the point of Andie’s solo trip to Japan, aside from simply watching Movement?; (2) what was coffee guy’s relevance?  I thought they’d get in touch somehow; (3) why didn’t Mac Park think of asking the girls if they were Joon’s friends when they were in the park?  Mac’s story seemed a bit lame; and (4) why didn’t the Japan embassy grant Nica a visa?  And why the obvious contempt?  Yes, yes, nitpicking.  But I only do this when I like the story.  So if you’re thinking of reading fun, happy Pinay chick lit without an ode to the West and is just completely current, go read Popped—I’m sure you’ll want to set a night out with your best friends, or watch a DVD marathon of Coffee Prince.  Or both.


Bailey Suarez said...

Hi, Girl Next Cubicle. I posted a link to your review in the Summit Books Facebook page:

Thank you for your kind words.

Aurora M. Suarez
Summit Books

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