In another life, I am obsessed with anime and manga, Japanese pop stars and movies. I took Japanese language classes. I've stayed at home just to finish an entire series. I wrote fanfiction; I've even made a Japanese-inspired harem game and a manga. One of my lifelong goals is to visit Japan, land of everything for which my fangirl heart beats. (Does that totally destroy any kind of lit street cred I may have? LOL.)
So when I came across Chinggay Labrador's Popped, I knew right away that I was going to relate to the story. The protagonist, Andie, is getting over a breakup via Korean dramas, which is only the start of her obsession as a K-fangirl. She and her friends find themselves elbowing other fans at a local K-pop concert, taking trips to Japan and Korea, and even chasing stars all over the place. Popped is really more about female solidarity, guilty pleasures, and unabashed optimism more than it is a love story, but there is still kilig there. Perhaps that kilig factor is already inherent in every fan-chasing-star tale (and how close they come) but Popped is still seasoned with a couple other romances that can touch anyone whose ever liked Asian-style love stories. I say this with a caveat though: I don't know how a non-fangirl would react to the story. Sure, there are a couple of things that seem far-fetched but I think that their adventures are the kind that a fan would dream of having. Also, the gushing tone that the characters use might get on some nerves if you're not familiar with the whole scenario. Andie certainly became hardcore too fast too soon, and though it's not unheard of, the lengths she goes to in her Second Life can take the reader aback.
I've never been to Korea but Ms Labrador writes her setting with such familiarity and enthusiasm that I feel as if I'm right there having this adventure with her. I've actually done something similar: a) one of my reasons for going to Taiwan was to see that diner where Shan Cai and Dao Min Si would meet but practicality won out in the end; and b) my sister and I have done that whole star-chasing thing when Jerry Yan and Vic Zhou came to Manila. But in Popped, this kind of adventure is given larger significance because it becomes not just about chasing boys, but about being there for your friends. Having BFFs who can understand you and appreciate you for all your quirks and moments of weaknesses is something worth treasuring, even if you have to go to another country to reaffirm that. Because of this, Popped is something I would heartily recommend to my chick-lit loving fangirl friends -- let's do this. >.< ^_^