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The Beautiful Dead: A Tale of K-Pop, Ghosts, and Nine-Tailed Fox Women is a unique novel that exposes the chaotic and dark world of Korean K-Pop and reality TV, while interweaving the unnatural world of Korean ghosts and supernatural creatures. While it may seem an eccentic mix, it totally works to allow us, the readers, to view the star's lives both from the girls' perspectives, and from the wider perspective of the creatures of the ether.
We meet the four members of the girl K-pop group SIITY -- Yubin, Tae-eun, Rena and Somi -- each of whom has her own set of struggles stemming from the regimented cultivation of their pop stardom. A jealous ghost, Jieun, imposes herself into their crowded and lonely lives, and at times helps them survive exploitation, manipulation, insecurities, and, above all, loneliness. Some scenes are dark and unnerving, others are playful and lighthearted, and all of them tug at your heartstrings.
"They were all in it together. Together, they could all savor success. They all labored under the same exhaustion. It was therefore a shame she felt so alone."
Each girl's challenges are totally relatable -- they are so easy to visualize, since the writing is creative and colorful -- and we ache to see them survive this off-kilter life each has chosen (or been bullied) to live.
As for the Audible version of this book, you're in for a pleasant surprise! Amy Landon does a superb job with the Korean names, words, exclamations and accents. As unfamiliar as I was with the Korean culture, especially with K-Pop, I was relieved to hear her navigate it so skillfully for me.
I do not know if this is a standalone novel, or if it might be the beginning of a series, but I would love to read more about these wonderfully flawed girls and delve deeper into Korean culture and mythology with them.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I really enjoyed this entertaining and unusual audiobook. The unique storyline easily draws you in and takes you into a world of pop idols, ghosts, empaths, vampires and nine tail foxes. I knew nothing of the Korean k-pop culture before listening to this book and I found that fascinating in itself, as well as it having a great storyline. The story is told from various individual POVs, showing the thoughts, fears, insecurities and emotions of each character with a few unexpected twists mixed in. I loved that all his idols were not model perfect and that he showed some of the nastier side of show business too. The narrator did an excellent job. She brought out the unique personalities and gave the characters individual voices. Her clear delineation of characters helped me greatly, as I did struggle a little with the various names at first, but that speaks more to my lack of knowledge of Asian names than it does the writing or the narration. This is an unusual and very enjoyable story and I will look forward to other books by this author in the future.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Now here’s the void in my reading life that I didn’t realise I had! K-pop paranormal drama.
Prince is an amazing writer, she gave each character their own distinctive voices and personalities which, though I didn’t really like them all, made them a pleasure to listen to/read.
Yubin, one of the main character, is an empath and presumably one of the characters we should like the most but I didn’t like her mentality at all – she openly admits to herself that she doesn’t socialise with her bandmates or anyone else because they’re not worth her time and she’s superior to them. Yeeeesh, even if she does get better over time I’m not a huge fan of her attitude.
Her bandmates all have their own issues going on, both supernatural and real-world. I really liked the fact that Somi, one of the bandmates, has ADHD and only has partial hearing which are both presented as character traits rather than exploited or used as a cheap plot device.
It’s funny that I could really empathise with all of the characters apart from the empath!
In terms of violence and action, this book starts off with mild supernatural content and then works its way up to a wonderfully violent conclusion, with some mild gore, which I really enjoyed. These young women are finally starting to bond when they find out the have the weird and wonderful in common. You get to meet shapeshifters, magic, poltergeists and psychic powers which are presented in a way you may not have read before.
I listened to the audiobook version of this story and Amy Landon did a brilliant job of narrating, she does a variety of different character voices with Korean accents and does so convincingly and without overdoing it (a pet hate of mine). Her reading voice is both interesting and relaxing which I enjoyed. This is an 11.5 hour audiobook and I listened to it in long chunks without any loss of attention!
Fingers crossed there’ll be another book out with these characters but I’ll be waiting for the audio to get the full effect.
**Thank you to the author for a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest and unbiased review**