Review: The Name Drop by Susan Lee


Upon arriving in New York City for an internship at his father’s tech company, Haneul Corporation, Elijah Ri expects special treatment as the future CEO, even though he doesn’t want it. Instead, he’s grouped with overworked, unpaid interns and crammed into a small apartment for the summer.

Jessica Lee is thrilled to begin her internship at Haneul Corporation, even though she’s at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy. She’s surprised when she’s introduced as the new executive-in-training intern and given a beautiful brownstone to live in.

Elijah and Jessica quickly realize the mix-up: they have the same Korean name. However, they decide to switch roles so that Elijah can escape his controlling father and Jessica can make the connections she needs for college recommendations.

As they work together to maintain the charade, Elijah and Jessica begin to develop feelings for each other. Will they be able to keep their secret and avoid disaster, or will their emotions and future plans be compromised?


As an ardent fan of k-dramas I was extremely excited when I was offered an advanced reader copy of The Name Drop by Susan Lee. Going in to the book, I thought this was going to be a feel good, fluff, contemporary teen romance that gives out K-drama vibes. This book was supposed to be like a warm blanket of cheesy goodness, but instead it was more like a moldy slice of bread.

I am a woman of color (I mention this because it is one of the main themes addressed in the book) who is the Asian Regional Director in a multinational gaming company with a branch in Seoul itself. Perhaps this is why I found The Name Drop to be problematic.

However, I hope this might not be a huge issue for an average reader who doesn’t understand the inner workings of a gaming company or the components that goes into organizing a hackathon, which is the central theme of the narrative. While I could provide a detailed breakdown of each instance where the author erred in their portrayal, I will refrain from doing so to prevent any potential spoilers. In my opinion, the inadequate amount of research invested in crafting the plotline was absolutely shocking to me.

Another aspect that the author overlooked was that, despite the gaming company being of Korean origin with branches in the United States, these branches are still governed by US labor laws. Furthermore, no international branch, even if it were composed entirely of Asian Americans, would have a homogeneous workforce. As a result, I found it challenging to accept the level of misogyny depicted in the company’s culture. While I do not deny that there are still individuals who hold misogynistic beliefs in our society. But as women working in the corporate world, we are daily made aware of the laws in place to protect us and these international branches in question are located in LA and NY, two of the most progressive states in the country. I may have been more forgiving of this oversight if the female characters in the story had taken any steps to address and resolve the issue. However, to my disappointment, no such remedies were done.

And dear mother of god! to call the interns who were studying in such prestigious colleges as UCLA, Stanford and Harvard pathetic who would go back to their pathetic lives once the internship was over? What were you thinking? Those are some of our greatest minds who would go out to change the world. Not all of those who are at those colleges are billionaires’ kids. Most of them are from middle class families, especially from families of color. Knowing that even children from South Korea would be honored to be accepted into these colleges, this comment from one of the Asian American female character was so uncalled for. Also what was that about middle class people needing recommendations from people and have connections to get into a good college? We are given plenty of opportunities during school time to build our resumes. True they don’t just hand them out. It takes determination and hard work. It’s about you carving your own path without waiting for opportunities to land on your lap. This was like an unnecessary slap on our education system.

Furthermore, let me address the other feeble explanation as to why Jessica couldn’t apply for a good college despite her lack of “connections” and “recommendations”. It was because her father couldn’t afford it. Yes, there are a millions of parents who cannot afford to send their children to college but Jessica wasn’t one of them. According to the author her father formerly worked at Microsoft as a Finance Director before joining the current company at which Jessica interns at. Do you even know how much a Finance Director at Microsoft earns (ka-ching!) and what kind of a remuneration package the current company would have had to offer in order for him to jump ship? Also, Jessica is an only child and there is no mention about any debts that her parents have that would prevent them from enrolling her in college. Also, there are plenty of financial aid programs available for potential college students, no matter how blood thirsty they are.

None of the supporting characters had any depth to them and even the female friendships were lackluster. There was absolutely no character growth in Jessica and I found Elijah to be too American. I understand he was used to a luxury lifestyle which allowed him to travel as he wished however coming from a family of color, I do know, no matter how many times you travel back and forth, you don’t get that American. I didn’t find the plot credible at all.

The Name Drop had so much potential and could have turned out to be a great book, if the author put in more time to research the themes of the narrative properly. I mean some K-dramas at times, lack a touch of reality but not this much though. Disappointed.


The Book Cover

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