Book review: Chinggay Labrador’s “Popped Too”

Because readers insist Movement was based on BIGBANG.

Before “Modelland” and before the generous folks at National Book Store started putting up links to my blog over at their Facebook page, the one post that drew readers to my blog like Koreans to kimchi was my review of Chiggay Labrador’s “Popped”.

It wasn’t very pretty. I had a breakdown over on Twitter and pretty much gnashed my teeth and wailed and wore sackcloth and threw ash on my face. I wanted to burn that book to the ground and throw salt on it so nothing would ever grow on it again.

Of course, since the Universe is a cruel mistress, the sequel, “Popped Too”, came out September of last year. And of course, since I am a masochist, I got myself a copy. Took me several months before I could actually sit down and read it, but I did it, okay?

Three months after the events in “Popped”, Andie and company are settling into a life less Korean. Aside from her usual freelancing, Andie now has a job as a mystery shopper for British fashion store Zozo. Trixie is no longer jobless and back in the corporate world. And because of the stunning photographs she took when they were in South Korea, Cesca now has a sought after advertising photographer. And Nica, their “fierce fashion editor friend”, is living it up in South Korea as a model.

But when a crazed “fan woman” launches a campaign against any woman — including Nica — aiming to be in a relationship with Movement’s lead vocalist Choi Jungsang, the trio decide that it’s time to return to South Korea and protect their friend. Will they be successful in defending their friend’s honor? Or will the “fan woman” get her way in the end?

I think it would be fair to say that “Popped Too” had its job cut out for it from the very beginning. Unlike the first book — which I expected to love — I was prepared for this to be a shitshow of epic proportions. And maybe that worked to its advantage, because as the people following me on Twitter and on Goodreads found out, there were some things that I ended up liking about this book.

For instance, Chinggay Labrador displays a knack for writing those cute romantic scenes that make you feel butterflies in your stomach and have you grinning for no reason other than the fact that everything is so cute. I mean, you kind of wish that AndieBau actually did something to deserve Mac Park in the first place, but it’s something you can overlook in this instance.

The villain in this book — we “meet” her early on in chapter 2 — actually makes a little more sense than the Munchkin Oppa of the first book. And the internet attack that she initially launches against Nica? Well, let’s just say that I know firsthand what that feels like.

For about 30 pages in — and maybe bits and pieces later on — I’m solidly behind AndieBau and company. I was actually finding these people relatable! Could it be that these people have redeemed themselves and won me over?

Of course not.

At around page 21, Nica starts getting on my nerves. Apparently, things with Choi Jungsang is not progressing as smoothly as she had hoped. But rather than muse on the trials of celebrity and popularity, we get a 12-paragraph diatribe that basically consisted of Nica going “How dare this Korean superstar whom I snagged with no effort at all, and who got me a job in the Korean entertainment industry, ignore ME? ME? THE NERVE!”

And this line of entitlement keeps going on and on whenever the girls meet Nica, and I’m just about ready to have an aneurysm.

There are also constant declarations of AndieBau and co.’s impending bankruptcy, and yet none of the characters seem to have gotten the memo, as evidenced by page 46, where AndieBau makes this declaration:

“I have thirteen pounds of free baggage space to fill up with H&M, Uniqlo, MCM, Nature Republic, Etude House, Tony Moly, Holika Holika, Dongdaemun loot, Beanpole, Artbox supplies, ithinkso stickers — “

It’s getting to the point where only gifs of drag queens can adequately express my frustration.

The girls also continue the hallowed tradition of gaining access into the hallowed halls of their idols’ lives without any sort of effort on their part. At one point they do pay an outrageous taxi cab fee, but that’s about the most they ever sacrifice to get to where they are.

And as for the villain? Things develop in a rather predictable way for her. I had thought that she would be different from the Munchkin Oppa, but just like him, she only seems to be the enemy because she is older than the girls and uglier to boot.

“There, in full color, was a photo of a woman who kind of resembled my homeroom adviser from sophomore year, high school. The photo had the woman wearing an oversized black Movement t-shirt, while posing, lightstick in tow, in front of Yokohama arena…She had a neon green fanny pack tied around her waist….”

On page 136, there’s this:

“Fan Woman spoke up in what was a thick Filipino accent.”

Really? REALLY? REALLY? We’re going this route again? Why can’t the villain have been Korean? Aren’t these the very same fans who staged a strike in front of the SM (?) office because they felt the ~racial purity~ of Super Junior was being compromised because of the addition of other members of slightly more Chinese origins? Weren’t these the same fans who threw out Jay Park because he said something ~unpatriotic~ years before? WHY DOES THE VILLAIN HAVE TO BE FILIPINO?

AND WHY DOES THE VILLAIN HAVE TO HAVE A THICK FILIPINO ACCENT? Can’t Filipinos who have perfect English — if that even exists — along with the perfect slang intonation to go with it, be vindictive and possessive bitches as well? Why must this specific character detail be highlighted as if it were such a negative thing?

The ~power of friendship~ doesn’t even “save” Nica from this ~nefarious~ Speaker of English with a Thick Filipino Accent. They are actually saved by Choi Jungsang himself, along with Harvey Kim, a part of the Movement entourage. It’s still the men who save these women. They can’t even save themselves.

Oh, and Harvey Kim? Also has the hots for Nica.

Can we talk about how these girls seem to have vaginas lined with kimchi and beer-flavored nipples? Nica, perhaps due to the mingled scent of kimchi and beer emanating from her body parts, has snagged two hot Korean guys (Harvey Kim looks like Jay Park, apparently) just by existing. She accomplishes this while being a twat who KEEPS. ON. COMPLAINING.

And that nice ordinary Korean boy, Mac Park? The one I thought would signal that dreams are nice and all, but reality can be just as good? Well, he’s also a motherfucking celebrity in South Korea. How about that. It’s like this book is just fucking with me now.

It’s a good thing that the latter part of the book just focuses on the AndieBau and Mac Park side of the equation, because that certainly made things much more easier for me. Why wasn’t there more of that in the book? I would have been so much happier.

Compared to the first book, “Popped Too” is definitely an improvement. But that’s not really saying much.

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4 thoughts on “Book review: Chinggay Labrador’s “Popped Too””

  1. Your reveiws of both books are funny. Love the gifs. I thought the first book was laugh out loud. And yes, snarky, but my forays in the kpop fangirling world proved that maraming ganyan 🙂 Though I wanted that kind of job too, semi-working full time loafing ang drama but you can afford to book yourself to Seoul at weeks notice. Yung second book, medyo lost ako. Maybe because Nica suddenly has this sudden Seoul vibe. It felt more like fanfiction on paper. It was all fluff, it was funny. Will you review the 3rd one?

    1. Hi ren!

      I will review the third one! I finished reading it weeks ago but my day job has made updating the blog a little difficult. 😀

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