Vicky S. (Torrance, CA)
The Choices We Make
The plot centers around a North Korean spy called home from South Korea, and his wife and daughter, but the story is really about what we think we know about people close to us and how this knowledge, or lack thereof, effects the choices we make in life. If you knew the man you were marrying was a spy would you still marry him?
What do you really know about those closest to you? What they think? What they do when you’re not with them? Intriguing questions. We’d probably be surprised by some of the answers.
Maria P. (Washington, DC)
In the News
Amazingly enough this book has a parallel non-fiction story in the news. As we read about the current situation of the Russian spies returning home from here in the US we can also imagine what the author has constructed in this fictional account. The humanity of the characters is always evident and the differences between North and South Korea are made very clear, and currently we can see how the US handled a tricky situation and how it might have otherwise.
Neil W. (Tavares, FL)
Any Day in a Life
This is a cleverly written and plotted book which takes place in a single day. The subject matter is timely, as it relates to espionage and agents living under deep cover in a foreign land. While some of the nuances are likely lost in translation, the plot builds steadily to a very exciting conclusion. The similarities and differences between the two prominent economic theories of our day are presented well. Somewhere along the line, the allegorical connections to all our lives are revealed. A little slow going in the middle, but worth reading to the very end. Do not start at the back of the book or peak at the ending!
Susan S. (Lafayette, CA)
A glimpse of a world we rarely see
I loved this book. It has a mystery running through it – who has sent the ‘Order 4’ e-mail to the main character, Ki-Yong? - but more than that it is a fascinating look at life in South Korea and the changes that have taken place there over the last 20 years, as well as the views held by South Koreans and North Koreans about each other and the rest of the world, plus a close look at one unhappy Korean family. The writing style is very straightforward, and not ornate, but the overall effect of the book is haunting.
Lisa A. (Knoxville, TN)
Started out strong
I really enjoyed this book for a look into the daily life of a country I didn’t know much about (snacking on dried squid and seaweed?). I was really enjoying the book until about the half-way point, when I felt things started to get strange. A lot of the book was devoted to the in-depth activities of the daughter, which didn’t seem to have much to do with the story. The wife was obviously having some sort of crisis, but even so her behavior was not quite believable. The unfamiliar style of the Korean names also made it difficult to keep the characters strait. I’m glad I read the book, but I was somewhat disappointed after finishing it. It started off strong, but the ending was something of a letdown.
Sandi S. (Kula, HI)
Your Republic is Calling You
What a great read! A tightly written psychological thriller. The novel takes place in the day after Ki-yong, an embedded North Korean spy, receives an email telling him to report into home base after twenty years in South Korea. Although it is only a twenty-four time span it is filled with experiences and reflections of Ki-yong, his wife, daughter, and their associates covering relationships, alienation, choice, murder, suicide, sex, and Korean culture. Kim does not waste a word in this well written page turner.
I highly recommend it.
Katherine Y. (Albuquerque, NM)
Get ready to stay up late!
Once you start reading this fun, informative, compelling story you won’t want to stop. The protagonist is a North Korean spy who has been living quietly with his wife and daughter in South Korea for many years when he receives a message ordering him to return to North Korea in 24 hours. The rest of the book chronicles the next 24 hours in the life of the spy, his wife and his daughter. The excellent characterization takes this book beyond being just a spy thriller and gives the reader insight into life in modern South Korea.