This cute, breezy, feel-good romantic comedy, is big on wish fulfillment while tackling important topics of body positivity, sexual orientation, and parental pressure. Skye's an easy character to cheer for. She's pragmatic, positive, and honest, even with the negativity thrown at her by her mom, people in the contest, and people who bully her online. I'll Be the One highlights how difficult life can be for fat girls, especially those in entertainment. Even with Skye's upbeat outlook, we see the negative thoughts creep in when years of cruel comments take their toll on her. Author Lyla Lee touches on the line between tough love and emotional abuse. Skye's mom is terrible to her, but Skye rationalizes it as a cultural norm for Asian parents, and at one point wonders, "Is all of that 'tough love' abusive? What distinguishes tough-love parenting from abuse?" She doesn't completely figure it out but makes her peace with how to deal with her mom, showing immense emotional maturity.
Even though the story's messages are interesting, much of the dialogue is stiff and unrealistic, with Lee putting adult "message" phrasing into the mouths of teen characters. But that aside, this is a fun, thought-provoking read for fans of K-pop and coming-of-age stories.