Review: I’ll Be the One (Lyla Lee)

I’ll Be the One
Series: I’ll Be the One, #1
Author: Lyla Lee
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.


The first thing that drew me to I’ll Be the One is the fabulous cover. The colors and the model just pop off it. There’s such joy in the model’s face, that I couldn’t help be drawn to this book. I wanted to feel her joy and know what she was so happy about. The second thing that caught my attention was blurb. I loved that there was going to be a message about body positivity. Third, I know very little about K-pop and I wanted to learn more.

Skye Shin was a character who couldn’t help but shine. She was upbeat and positive when she could have been sullen and feeling sorry for herself. I loved that she didn’t let her weight define her or hold her back from her dreams. That’s a super important thing for teens who are reading this book to takeaway from it — adults, too.

The relationship between Sky and her mom fascinated me. I got where Skye was coming from, but I could also see where her mom was too. (Not that I agreed with how she conveyed her opinions most of the time.) It really made me think about how I talk to my own preteen daughter about weight or really anything. I liked how their issues were examined and how things ended up at the end.

Henry… I loved his character. He was slightly mysterious and very sweet. Skye’s friendship/relationship with him was exactly what she needed and I loved how it had drama, but wasn’t crazy over the top. The way the competition fueled their interactions was really cool. Plus, Snowball. That dog was awesome.

Skye also had some amazing friends in this book. They all lifted Skye up and kept her going when parents, competitors, judges, and people in general judged her. I especially loved Lana.

Earlier I said something about wanting to learn more about K-pop. I don’t know that I really learned a lot about it in this book. Most of the plot was based around the competition TV show and not K-pop specifically. I did like the competition. It reminded me of a combination of So You Think You Can Dance and The Voice. What did I end up learning more about was Korean culture. I loved that.

I could go on and on about how fabulous I’ll Be the One was. I adored every minute of the time I got to spend with Skye and her friends. I cannot recommend this book enough!

23 thoughts on “Review: I’ll Be the One (Lyla Lee)”

  1. Skye sounds like such an amazing character. I love that she didn’t let her physical appearance/size define her. I love stories that focus on body positivity and acceptance, especially for YA and MG readers.

  2. I haven’t heard of this book before, but it sounds fun. Learning a little more about Korean culture sounds interesting to me, too, though it’s a little disappointing that you didn’t learn much about k-pop. I don’t know much about it either, but I see a lot of people mention it. Great review!

  3. I know things about KPop, but am not really familiar with it. I am, however, very excited about this book. I was drawn to the cover as well, and it sounds like something I will love.

  4. I’d not heard of this one but like you I was drawn in by that bright cover. This sounds like a really enjoyable read. I don’t know much about the K-pop world but I do know that it is very superficial when it comes to looks so this is an interesting way to explore if further with a girl who has been fat shamed but herself is proud of her body and who she is. I completely want to read now.

    1. I feel like I’ve been gravitating more towards YA, but it might be because I had a bunch of YA ARCs until recently.

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