PLAY IT BY EAR (Backstage Pass #2) by Tara Frejas
What does it really take to be a champion?
When East Genesis Project’s Jo Yihwan reluctantly pinch-hits for injured band mate Steven Bae in a reality TV-slash-talent competition, he decides he’s only in it to win. After all, he is representing his band, and the All-Kill Champion title had some handsome perks attached to it.
But he didn’t expect to meet a gutsy, driven teammate like Ha Yoojung, or feel drawn to her incandescent spirit week after week after week. He didn’t expect her to be carrying a devastating secret that could cost them the grand prize, either.
What starts as a competition becomes so much more. With careers, a long-held dream, and honor at stake, can Yihwan and Yoojung’s hearts survive?
Content warnings: Mentions of sexual assault
Play it By Ear follows thru East Genesis Project leader, Jo Yihwan, being paired with Ha Yoojung, a trainee, in a reality TV & talent competition called All Kill Champion. Everything about it felt authentic (like the news articles and comments from netizens, authentic af) and I was immediately sold to the idea. What started as an awkward butting of heads between Yihwan and Yoojung…gradually shifted into them being one of the show’s very competitive and creative duo. I adore their relationship, how they listen to each other’s opinions and how they take constructive criticisms. I love when they brainstorm for their performances and when they have to come up with out of the box ideas. The set-up about the competition and their experiences in it were easy to imagine. Also the EXO mentions in the book, a total win for me.
But then there’s a sudden twist in the story, one that hits too close with the recent headlines in South Korea. You may ask, what’s that? Know about the scandal after scandal being unearthed and big personalities from the entertainment, business (etc) industries linked? Okay, I think you get the hint already just by that.
We need more Ha Yoojung-like people in this planet. Seriously. She breaks down (whenever she cries I get teary eyed too) but at the end of it all she’s one tough gal. I applaud her guts to speak up and tell the world her story. Even though chances are people won’t listen to her. She choose to stand up for herself, for other women who possibly experienced it too. I love her. ❤️
The romance, check. It was there, cute even, but it didn’t overpower what this book wants to talk about. All the AmEnt and East Gen babies were great side characters. I’m keeping my eyes on you, Steven. I’m teased. 👀
I love this book and what it stands for. It wasn’t just about the fluff. It dived into something recent, crazy alarming, and I appreciate it so much that we have this narrative of Yoojung. Thank you, Tara. 💛
RATING: 4.5 STARS