Book review: Idol, Burning

Fandoms feel like a sensitive topic - they are so powerful and scary that they can make or break my internet existence. When Goodreads recommended Idol Burning and I discovered it was about fangirling, I didn't hesitate to read it. 

Because I am a fangirl. 

I spent most of my teenage years swooning over good-looking men who didn't even know me. Faces of strangers hung on my wall and each of them was part of my every night prayer. Their music was my after-class devotion and MTV was my salvation on days when trigonometry proved to be so much harder than it seemed. I collected teen magazines, compiled interviews, pasted cut-outs of their songs into a binder, and placed them on my bedside table. I recorded their singles from the radio and made mixed tapes that I would play depending on my mood, my emotional needs, and the weather. Life revolved around those men, and I would often daydream, what if... what if Nick Carter really married me. 

Akari didn't have any romantic feelings for her oshi (bias). But he needed to understand Masaki as a person and as an idol. She made him her world, and did all the things my younger self did... and more. She worked part-time, so she had the money to buy concert tickets and three copies of each of the CDs and photobooks. She built a blog and wrote her thoughts about him and how perfect he was in her eyes. 

Until he wasn't. 

Because one day, Masaki's name filled the headlines and online searches after he allegedly hit someone - a woman. People hated him for it. And for the right reasons (unlike the undeserved hate thrown at Kim Jongdae). Everything went spiraling from there, and all Akari could do was watch idly as the only world she knew was crumbling quickly before her eyes. How are you gonna pick up the pieces? 

From the perspective of a romantically-invested fangirl, I have no answer to that. If you ask the noona fangirl in me, I'd say it would depend on the circumstances. Were the rumors true? Did Junmyeon or Sehun really do that? What was the context? I don't know, maybe I'd still listen to their songs because EXO has the best songs out there. 

I am not sure how Japanese fandoms are different from the others, but I took note of the fact that they are strictly abiding by the rules e.g. no recording inside the concert venue. I remember that particular Jung Yong Hwa Japan concert that we all were searching for fancams until a fan said, "This is Japan. You won't get that here. We follow the rules." Akari buried her phone deep in her bag and secretly ran an audio recording app that turned out in vain bacause all she captured was the screaming and the crying and the chanting. 

Rin Usami has done a wonderful job describing what it was like to be a hardcore fangirl. Idol Burning showed what it was like to be one, whose entire life revolved around her idol it became her identity (hey, I was Mrs. Carter when I was fifteen 🙈 cue: Quit Playing Games With My Heart!).