Sunny Lee is a disgraced former K-pop icon. Her world has fallen apart after a scandal and the tragic death of her co-star, Minnie.
The aftermath of these events is brutal. In the depth of a well-illustrated depression, Sunny ruminates on her past success and obsesses over her remaining co-star Candie’s distance.
Seeing an opportunity to join Candie in a competitive idol workshop, she seeks redemption and the truth.
Gorgeous Gruesome Faces is an enthralling debut novel by Linda Cheng.
We’re introduced to a defeated and disgraced Sunny Lee, a former K-pop icon in the US. Her world fell apart after a scandal and the tragic death of her co-star, Minnie.
The aftermath of these events is brutal. In the depth of a well-illustrated depression, now eighteen-year-old Sunny spends her day reflecting on her former glory and cyberstalking her ex-bestie and remaining groupmate, Candie.
Once closer than ever, the death of Minnie changes everything. Candie is now unreachable, and the distance between the remaining groupmates is colossal.
On seeing Candie’s latest venture online, Sunny sees an opportunity for redemption and reconnection. Despite her hesitation, she auditions for the same competitive idol workshop, tackling her trauma and the rift head-on.
However, things are not quite what they seem. Sunny is haunted by more than just past mistakes, co-dependant relationships and complicated sapphic love.
The rise and fall of Sunny Lee
The novel is told from Sunny’s perspective with past and present timelines. These contrasting chapters increase tension, pace the story and allow for vivid world-building.
These alternating timelines also illustrate the depth of the co-stars’ relationships. When at their worst, they are explosive with teenage hormones, mean-girl cattiness and complexity.
The toxicity of K-pop culture
The novel presents a brilliant portrayal of idol culture’s appeal, pressures and toxicity. Combine this K-pop glamour and ruthlessness, a thrilling story full of twists and a dash of occult horror, and you’re in for a magnificent debut (novel).
Gorgeous Gruesome Faces by Linda Cheng will be released on November 7, 2023, via Roaring Brook Press.
I personally have read Gorgeous Gruesome Faces. However, I did receive a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley and this post does contain affiliate links.