ARC Reviews · Reviews

Hart and Seoulby Kristen Burnham: ARC Review

Hart & Seoul by Kristen Burnham

NOTE: This ARC has been kindly provided to my by NetGalley, however, all opinions stated are my own and aren’t influenced by this 🙂

My Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Genre: Contemporary YA Romance





Merilee Hart has been doing her best to keep things together since her mother left, her art a welcome escape from her depressing new reality. But things seem to go even more awry the moment her next door neighbor’s enigmatic and mysterious nephew arrives from South Korea. Lee is moody, cocky, and utterly infuriating.
But when Merri’s closest friends betray her and her father crushes her dream of going to art school, Merri finds herself drawn to Lee, who seems to live within even greater shadows than her own. And just when she thought things couldn’t get crazier, Merri’s world is upended when she discovers Lee’s big and bizarre secret…he is none other than a runaway member of the K-pop mega-group Thunder.

It’s not long before Thunder’s fans, the Storm Chasers, begin to close in on Lee, ready to do whatever it takes to return their favorite idol to his rightful place in the band. Faced with the prospect of even more heartbreak and caught up in an international whirlwind that has a life of its own, Merri realizes that she must find a way to mend herself, gain control of her life, and pursue her dreams—her heart and soul depend on it.


Ummmm……. Yeah that was cringe.

To be completely honest, from the synopsis of this book I was somewhat aware of the fact that chances were very slim that the author was going to get this right, and, lo and behold, I was correct.

This book read like it was written by a twelve year old that loves K-Pop and knows nothing about Korean culture except for the little information gained from K-Pop, for example:

  • The only Korean words used were ‘Aigoo’ and ‘Deh’??????? Um ok 10/10 great job, fluent in Korean, totally didn’t get that from one episode of a K-Drama

Along with this, the overall tone of the book, to me at least, almost seemed… kinda… fetish-y? Like just a weird obsession with Korea and Koreans on behalf of both the author and Meri (the protagonist). This was pretty much solidified through the constant emphasis on Lee being Korean, it was unnecessary and actually kinda confused me. Basically, through the book, Lee uses a few words per sentence that are Korean, unnecessary, basic words, (‘deh’) that clearly aren’t needed but are there to draw attention to his Korean-ness. Also, it gives the impression that he isn’t fluent in English, and all his speech sounds like its from Google Translate, and then he talks and understands very American English??

Also, the plot. SO PREDICTABLE UGHHHHHH. It was so predictable, literally no thought or effort or innovation whatsoever, and I wouldn’t of minded this if there were good characters and writing skills to make up for it, but nope, nada. It was horrible, honestly, we don’t even need a spoiler section here, but I’m going to add one just in case, so SPOILERS AHEAD!

  • Meri was? Such a hypocrite??? Like she’s upset at her mum for valuing her art over people and then does the E X A C T  S A M E
  • Also, how is it that she was more upset over Lee than her boyfriend of 2 years and best friend getting together behind her back? Sis needs to get her priorities straight
  • Also, and this was the killer for me: through the book we see Meri become rather curious about Lee’s wristbands, and of course, we may assume that he is self-harming. This could’ve been a really enlightening look into the harsh aspects of the Korean entertainment industry, and then, we get half a paragraph on his scars and ‘do you have a councillor?’ umm… is that it? And then, this author had the audacity to mention Jonghyun in the Author’s Note (for those of you that may not know, Jonghyun was a member of K-Pop group Shinee who commit suicide at the end of 2017, the event got a lot of media attention, and even managed to reach the UK, giving many an insight into the harshness that many face in the entertainment industry in Korea. If you’d like to find out more let me know and I’ll reply to any comments with some articles that explain the inaudibly sad event far better than I’ll be able to). The anger I felt at that may have been emphasised considering my love for the group, but I think its absolutely unacceptable to brush over such a serious issue in such a nonchalant and blase manner, and then mention a real life event, that actually happened, and was so much more serious than the stupid portrayal in this book and I am quite genuinely disgusted, so, if the author ever comes across this: screw you. And find some source of research other than Wattpad for your books, I could’ve done a better job.



OKAY, RANT OVER. To summarise, if you want a good romance with a sprinkle of K-Pop, this ain’t it, I may be able to find you some old fanfic from when I was 11 and you can sub in some names, I promise, it’s better written. To be fair, I didn’t mind reading this book, but that’s in the same way I don’t mind Love Island: as something to laugh at and make myself feel more intelligent. I promise soon I’ll actually write a review on a book I like lol, feel free to leave me recs. And also, if you are struggling with self harm or suicidal thoughts, please, talk to someone, there are so many anonymous hotlines, councillors and also people that can talk to you and help you through anything you are going through: mental health is not something to be taken lightly ❤


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