Review: Bright by Jessica Jung

Back in 2020, I’ve read Shine by Jessica Jung, the first book in the “Shine” duology. Jessica Jung is a former member of the very successful KPop group Girls’ Generation and used her experiences with being a trainee and idol in these books. I have to admit that I couldn’t get to Shine back then, I ended up rating it 2 stars. However, I loved several novels set in Korea and surrounding KPop in the past few months that I decided to give it another chance. Guess what? I flew through it in one day. The sequel Bright sparked my curiosity and I bought it upon release. However, it took me a little while to pick it up. Untill the first part of my summer leave actually. This review contains spoilers for Shine.

Title: Bright
Author: Jessica Jung
Series: Shine #2
Publication date: May 12, 2022
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Shine! Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girl in this knockout series from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend, fashion icon, and founder of the international luxury brand, Blanc & Eclare.
Couture gowns, press parties, international travel. Rachel Kim is at the top of her game. Girls Forever is now the number-one K-pop group in the world, and her fame skyrockets after her viral airport styling attracts the attention of fashion’s biggest names. Her life’s a swirl of technicolor glamour and adoring fans. Rachel can’t imagine shining any brighter.
The only thing that’s missing is love—but Rachel’s determined to follow the rules. In her world, falling in love can cost you everything.
Enter Alex. When Rachel literally falls head over designer heels into his lap on a crowded metro, she’s tempted to give up her anti-love vows. Alex is more than just heart-stopping dimples and adorably quirky banter. He believes in Rachel’s future—both in music and in fashion.
But the higher you rise, the farther you have to fall. And when a shocking act of betrayal shatters her world, Rachel must finally listen to her heart.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bright picks up five years after the ending of Shine when Rachel debuted. Now, Girls Forever is very popular in South Korea and far beyond. The girls have done many shows and there are many more to come. However, Rachel is doubting whether this is the life she wants to live or whether it’s time to pursue one of her other interests. As a child, she always scatched and drew things in her scatch book. She was always interested in fashion and clothes. When she gets an invite to the Paris fashion week, she immediately jumps on that chance. From there on, her life changes drastically.

Actually, I liked this book better than Shine. When you’re familiar with the story of how Jung ended her time with Girls’ Generation, you know a lot is coming down in this novel. According to Jung, these books are fiction, but when digging a little deeper, you see many similarities. Please be aware that nobody but Jung knows the real story and that we can only judge by the gossip we find online. However, it’s no secret that stuff got dirty and that jealousy played a key role in it. So, when reading Bright, you know some tea will be spilled in a fictional way.

Rachel has grown a lot in these five years. Frpom a sixteen or seventeen year old girl – I really can’t remember – she transformed in a young woman who has done and seen a lot of things. In fact, being a KPop idol took over her whole live. Therefore, she lost touch with her family as she barely has time to spend time with them. It’s definitely not strange for Rachel to start having doubts about whether this is what she wants for herself. She has other dreams which she likes to pursue. She’s determined to make it work, like she was in Shine. There, Rachel was determined to debut, no matter what got thrown in her way. That same drive she shows in Bright.

The writing style is easy to follow, just like in Shine. Together with the drama we all expect, the story of Bright is intriguing. I wanted to know what eventually would happen to Rachel and whether she manages to combine her carreer in KPop with her own clothing line or if it would have consequences. In fact I was that intrigued that I was able to finish the book in one day. I think Bright is the perect way to end this duology, as it has such an interesting ending. Also, another book would not make much sense. The characters have developed really well, so has the plot. I liked this book better than Shine which I also liked after the second read.

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