YA Friday: Welcome! This is your first time with BTS, right?

BTS smiling for the camera in black suits

From left to right: RM, V, Suga, Jin, J-hope, Jimin, and Jungkook

Ayo ladies and gentleman...

If you haven't heard of BTS yet, you probably will very soon as they embark on their sold-out U.S. tour next month, one of those stops being Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA.

They have a huge social media presence with over 10 million subscribers on YouTube and 16 million followers on Twitter.

Their newest album and conclusion to their most recent musical concept, LOVE YOURSELF 結 'Answer', was released today along with a music video for their newest single, IDOL, which now holds the record for the biggest music video debut in YouTube history, earning over 45 million views in 24 hours, surpassing the debut of Taylor Swift’s music video for Look What You Made Me Do, which had 43.2 million views in 24 hours.

Oh also, they're taking over the world.

Who Are They?

BTS (방탄소년단) also known as Bangtan Boys / Bulletproof Boy Scouts / Beyond the Scene is a seven-member South Korean K-pop/Hip-hop boy group formed by Big Hit Entertainment. The group consists of RM, Jin, Suga, J-hope, V, Jimin, and Jungkook.

Following their debut in 2013, they became increasingly popular and broke music records. BTS is also notably the first K-pop group to perform at the American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards and is seen as the first K-pop boy band and group to enter the U.S. market successfully.

The group is notably popular for their synchronized dance, rap, vocals, style, covers of other artists, personalities and team chemistry. The group has released songs and albums in both Korean and Japanese. Their most recent songs also emphasize the importance of loving oneself. The group started off as a humble and unknown group in a new company label and have opened up about their mental health, worries and past in their songs so that’s also a contributing factor why fans cite feeling a special connection with the group.

The passionate fandom of BTS is called ‘ARMY’ which stands for Adorable Representative MC for Youth. ARMY are known for their unconditional love and endless support for their favorite seven boys and always vote for them tirelessly in every competition and spread their art across the world like wild fire. Of course, this is one of the biggest factors why BTS is gaining this insane popularity and success. They keep breaking records and making history, bringing K-pop outside Korea.

BTS boys smiling for the camera

What Is K-Pop?

K-pop, an abbreviation of Korean pop or Korean popular music, is a musical genre consisting of electronic, hip hop, pop, rock, and R&B music originating in South Korea. In addition to music, K-pop has grown into a popular subculture among teenagers and young adults throughout Asia, resulting in widespread interest in the fashion and style of Korean idol groups and singers.

A Korean idol, or K-pop idol, is a South Korean musical artist signed under a mainstream or performs as an indie artist under his/her own label. In South Korea, potential idols are commonly cast by agencies via auditions in order to become trainees. Those who successfully pass this audition stage are offered long-term contracts with the entertainment company. There are no age limits to becoming a trainee; thus is not uncommon for trainees, and even debuted idols, to be very young. The trainee process lasts for an indefinite period of time, ranging from months to years, and usually involves vocal, dance, and language classes while living together with other trainees, sometimes attending school at the same time, although some trainees drop out of school to focus on a career as an idol.

BTS holding up Korean Finger Heart

What do they have to do with YA books?

Recently anytime I am not spending at work is time spent watching pretty much every BTS related video on the Internet. Considering these boys have their own online variety show, YouTube documentary called 'Burn The Stage', and dedicated fans that spend hours theorizing about the alternate universe storyline and meanings in their music videos, much of my extra time has been concentrated on this band and their music.

Naturally my love for YA novels has collided with my love for BTS. And because their music videos (many of which are already inspired by literature) are so visually striking and story heavy, I thought they would pair well with some awesome YA books. The result is a list that I think can help ARMYs find a new book they may love or have fans of YA find the right entry point into BTS' music.

BTS smiling into a photo booth

TL;DR

I like BTS. Here are some YA books that match their music videos. Watch, read, and enjoy all the pretty.

Fake Love

The band has described Fake Love to be a song about the dark side of love. The lyrics talk about the kind of love that consumes you that you end up losing yourself. The music video is chalk-full of references to their past music videos and the storyline that binds them all together, but it ultimately follows one of the members, Jungkook, around a place where he can watch each of the other members face or deal with their fears and representations of their true selves. The books below also explore dangerous love stories and the being the witness of tragedy outside of oneself.

Bad Romance book cover The Tragedy Paper book cover If I Stay book coverAlways Forever Maybe book cover

  • Bad Romance, written by Heather Demetrios

    When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.
  • The Tragedy Paper, written by Elizabeth LaBan

    While preparing for the most dreaded assignment at the prestigious Irving School, the Tragedy Paper, Duncan gets wrapped up in the tragic tale of Tim Macbeth, a former student who had a clandestine relationship with the wrong girl, and his own ill-fated romance with Daisy.
  • If I Stay, written by Gayle Forman

    While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weighs whether to live with her grief or join her family in death.
  • Always Forever Maybe, written by Anica Mrose Rissi

    High school senior Bee falls in love with Aiden, who seems perfect for her until his possessiveness leads to abuse.

DNA

The lyrics in DNA describe a destiny so deep that it was written in your genetics. The song is about a love that is fated to be, no matter how brief. The books below are about destiny and love in the same regard, and pair well with a hyper-saturated music video that explores time-loops, wormholes, and a continually changing virtual reality.

The Sun is Also a Star book coverWarcross book coverThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight book coverMeant To Be book cover

  • The Sun is Also a Star, written by Nicola Yoon

    Two teens--Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica--cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives--Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family's deportation to Jamaica--and fall in love.
  • Warcross, written by Marie Lu

    When teenage coder Emika Chen hacks her way into the opening tournament of the Warcross Championships, she glitches herself into the game as well as a sinister plot with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, written by Jennifer E. Smith

    Seventeen-year-old Hadley's father is getting remarried, and while Hadley is (much) less than thrilled about it, she's traveling to England to be a part of his wedding. After missing her flight to London by just four minutes, Hadley gets rebooked on another flight...where she meets Oliver.
  • Meant To Be, written by Julie Halpern

    In a world where the name of one's "meant to be" mate appears on one's chest at age eighteen, Aggy must decide whether to trust the phenomenon or follow her heart.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

This music video is based on the coming of age story Demian, written by Hermann Hesse which is about its principal character Emil Sinclair and his exploration of the duality of existence and the opposing demands of the external world and his one internal quest for spiritual fulfillment. Emil’s quest to resolve this conflict forces him to seek out the guidance and validation from the various members of his world including Max Demian, a childhood friend who leads Emil to his eventual self-realization. The haunting music video explores ideas of fate, reality, life and death, and falling from grace. In the video you see BTS play with the duality of dark and light, lost innocence and awakening, while roaming through an echoing hall filled with classic sculptures and weeping angels and, alternatively, kept in dark spaces, tied up and trapped. Intermixed into the more classical imagery are lush, bright, jarring sets and references to the afterlife, such as shrouds and veils. Like in the video, the books below are steamy and dangerous fantasy stories that feature beautiful winged creatures who aren't always as they appear.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone book coverHush, Hush book coverAngelfall book coverA Court of Thorns and Roses book cover

  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone, written by Laini Taylor

    Seventeen-year-old Karou, a lovely, enigmatic art student in a Prague boarding school, carries a sketchbook of hideous, frightening monsters--the chimaerae who form the only family she has ever known.

  • Hush, Hush, written by Becca Fitzpatrick

    High school sophomore Nora has always been very cautious in her relationships, but when Patch, who has a dark side she can sense, enrolls at her school, she is mysteriously and strongly drawn to him, despite warnings from her best friend, the school counselor, and her own instincts.

  • Angelfall, written by Susan Ee

    While trying to escape their apartment after the angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world, Penryn meets Raffe, an angel whose wings have been cut off by the angels who kidnapped Penryn's sister, Paige.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses, written by Sarah J. Maas

    Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from stories, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin, a High Lord of the faeries. As her feelings toward him transform from hostility to a firey passion, the threats against the faerie lands grow. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose Tamlin forever.

Spring Day

This music video is based on The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, a short story written by Ursula K. Le Guin which is about Omelas, a false utopia: a place where everyone is perpetually happy and carefree, but under the surface, one child must suffer in order to maintain the balance. Sooner or later, every citizen of Omelas learns of the caged child's existence and is taught about the meaning of suffering. Horrified, some people walk away from Omelas, never to return and face a new world of uncertainty head on. Like the YA books below, the song and video can be interpreted many ways: it can be about friendship, or a reflection on the terrifying cusp of adulthood and the desire cling to the nostalgia of youth and happiness, or about the inexplicable pain of loss and the will to carry on and live even when you’re hurting.

The Art of Not Breathing book coverJust One Day book coverScythe book coverMore Than This book cover

  • The Art of Not Breathing, written by Sarah Alexander

    Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. When cute, mysterious Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.

  • Just One Day, written by Gayle Forman

    Sparks fly when American good girl Allyson encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem, so she follows him on a whirlwind trip to Paris, upending her life in just one day and prompting a year of self-discovery and the search for true love.

  • Scythe, written by Neal Shusterman

    In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ('gleaned') by professional reapers ('scythes'). Two teens must compete with each other to become a scythe--a position neither of them wants. The one who becomes a scythe must kill the one who doesn't.

  • More Than This, written by Patrick Ness

    Awakening inexplicably in the suburban English town of his early childhood after drowning, Seth is baffled by changes in the community and suffers from agonizing memories that reveal sinister qualities about the world around him.

MIC Drop

MIC Drop is a braggadocio song about how the band has skyrocketed to the top of the their respective genre and even broke through the American pop music bubble. Which is rather fitting that it is the first song where they worked with American DJ Steve Akoi and released an English remix featuring rapper Desiigner. The books below are about the transformative power of music and honing the skills and talent to be a successful DJ.

Rani Patel in Full Effect book coverWhen the Beat Drops book coverThis Song Will Save Your Life book coverBeautiful Music For Ugly Children book cover

  • Rani Patel in Full Effect, written by Sonia Patel

    Rani Patel, almost seventeen and living on remote Moloka'i island, is oppressed by the cultural norms of her Gujarati immigrant parents but when Mark, an older man, draws her into new experiences red flags abound.

  • When the Beat Drops, written by Anna Hecker

    Seventeen-year-old Mira, a jazz music prodigy, falls in love with Derek and sets aside trumpet practice, old friendships, and even attempts to bond with her sister when he promises fame as a D.J.

  • This Song Will Save Your Life, written by Leila Sales

    Nearly a year after a failed suicide attempt, sixteen-year-old Elise discovers that she has the passion, and the talent, to be a disc jockey.

  • Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, written by Kristen Cronn-Mills

    Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl's body. With his new public access radio show gaining in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendships, and parents--all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a station in Minneapolis looks like his ticket to a better life in the big city. But his entire future is threatened when several violent guys find out Gabe, the popular DJ, is also Elizabeth from school.

Fire

This music video is about the recklessness of youth. The lyrics encourage to live your life without worries, full of joy and to focus yourself more on the future, because the past remains in the past. At the end of the song, Suga says "I'll forgive you", which means you don't have anything to worry about from the past. Random images assault the senses: a car falls from the sky, and later blows up, a boy with a spray can playing "tag" in front of flashing police lights, and a hooded figure catches fire, and things burn. The dancing is sharp, synchronized and incredible even when it expands to the larger group of back up dancers. Naturally it pairs well with books that focus on that manic-pixie hyperbole of youth and things not always being what they seem. And flames -- lots of flames.

Dive Smack book coverThe Dead Enders book coverLooking For Alaska book coverThe Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik book cover

  • Dive Smack, written by Demetra Brodsky

    Blaming himself for the fire that destroyed his home and ended his mother's life, Theo, a talented student and athlete, focuses on securing a scholarship that will let him escape his hometown only to be assigned a family history project that forces him to confront his patchy memory of what really happened.

  • The Dead Enders, written by Erin Saldin

    Ana, Davis, Erik, and Georgie, bound together by tragedy, want nothing more than to escape the small tourist town of Gold Fork, but an arsonist and the return of long-lost family members force them to confront the past.

  • Looking For Alaska, written by John Green

    Sixteen-year-old Miles' first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

  • The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, written by David Arnold

    This is Noah Oakman, sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend. Then Noah gets hypnotized. Now Noah sees changes--inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories--in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations.

Not Today

Not Today is powerful song that is an update to the group’s early anti-establishment message.The video is dance-heavy with precise, stomping choreography and shows BTS leading a crowd of black-clad, seemingly ninja-inspired, dancers -- who throw off their restricting garments at one point as if in protest -- in military-style formations, while the rapid-fire dances are interspersed with scenes of the BTS members being chased and shot at. The lyrics promote people bonding together to form a new world and references the idea of breaking the glass ceiling and all invisible barriers that keep people back from succeeding. The books below are also about resistance and uniting together as underdogs to oppose a repressive regime.

Carve the Mark book coverUnder the Never Sky book coverEnclave book coverAn Ember in the Ashes book cover

  • Carve the Mark, written by Veronica Roth

    Living on a violent planet where everyone develops a unique power meant to shape the future, Akos and Cyra, youths from enemy nations, resent gifts that render them vulnerable to others' control before they become unlikely survival partners.
  • Under the Never Sky, written by Veronica Rossi

    Aria and Perry, two teens from radically different societies--one highly advanced, the other primitive--hate being dependent on one another until they overcome their prejudices and fall in love, knowing they can't stay together.
  • Enclave, written by Ann Aguire

    In a post-apocalyptic future, fifteen-year-old Deuce, a loyal Huntress, brings back meat while avoiding the Freaks outside her enclave, but when she is partnered with the mysterious outsider, Fade, she begins to see that the strict ways of the elders may be wrong--and dangerous.
  • An Ember in the Ashes, written by Sabaa Tahir

    Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire's greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

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