Hiya! Today I’ll be reviewing Sarah Suk’s Made in Korea; A delightful and charming YA contemporary. I had buddy read this with some amazing bloggers; Rania and Ritz! Do check out their blogs as well if you can. Anyways, let’s get into it!
There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris. Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover… What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor. Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for. But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book via TBR and Beyond Tours and Simon & Schuster Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This was everything I ever needed! Rival school businesses and K-Beauty will always be a win in my book. What makes this novel so special is that the characters make bad decisions while still remaining logical. You typically see people making bad decisions emotionally, never logically, so that was very refreshing to see. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that despite being marketed as a rom-com, I really don’t think it is one as the book deals with a lot of of hard hitting topics. Essentially what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for a funny enemies to lovers, you most likely won’t get that from Made in Korea. Anyways, on with the review!
What I loved most about this book, is that Valarie and Wes had very distinct personalities. They each have their own goals, and progressively became the best versions of themselves as the story went along. There was an abundance of character development, and I loved seeing them grow. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t like Wes. I couldn’t understand why everyone, including himself, kept of saying that he was so nice. I didn’t think he was nice till the last 30 percent of the book. Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed reading about Valarie and Wes’ relationship dynamic.
The side characters were such a joy! Charlie, Valarie’s cousin and business partner, will forever be my all time favorite book character! I don’t think I’ve ever read about someone so incredibly wholesome. Taemin was also absolutely hilarious, and he genuinely made me laugh. Kristy was another great character too. Furthermore, Valarie and her halmeoni (grandmother), had such a cute relationship. I loved how much they cared about each other, it felt so real and genuine. Valarie’s older sister Samantha was a character I could really resonate with. She has all these expectations placed on her because she’s the eldest sibling, and it’s something that Valarie will never understand. I was interested in their relationship, and would like to have seen more interactions between them. Pauline however, I wasn’t too fond of. In my opinion, she was a fairly dull character, and I couldn’t see why Charlie could like her. It felt as though he had a crush on Pauline just for the sake of it. Her infatuation with marine biology was cool though.
The dialogue in Made in Korea was very well written, I really felt all the emotions the characters were experiencing. This novel contains by far one of the best dialogues I have ever read. It was extremely raw and heart-wrenching. I loved every bit of it.
In addition, the writing style was simple and easy to follow. It’s told by the perspectives of Valarie and Wes. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I can’t tell the difference between the perspectives of characters. Thankfully, I had no issues telling them apart. My only complaint is that the constant italics complicated things a bit. Nevertheless, the story had me hooked on every word.
The overall enjoyment level of Made in Korea is through the roof! You’ll definitely not want to put it down. If you love the idea of entrepreneurial enemies to lovers, or love it when opposite attract, than this is definitely the book for you! I highly recommend this book to all contemporary fans!
Age Rating: 14 and up
TW: Some use of alcohol
Final Rating: 9/10 or 4.5 stars
Thank you for reading (or skimming). You can read my interview with the author here! Have you read Made in Korea? What’s your favorite YA contemporary? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have a fabulous day!