Rated of 5
by Rebecca R. (Kona & mainland U.S.)
I Think This Will Be Made into a Movie
I felt like I had secretly stepped into North Korea as soon as I started reading, and after 5 chapter, I emailed a few friends to say, "Get this book when it becomes available." With the 2012 real world death of a member of the North Korean 'Dear Leader' family and the YouTube videos showing some suspiciously orchestrated crocodile tears, I feel like this book could lead to some lively book club discussions. Just yesterday (March 12) North and South Korean diplomats punched each other at a U.N. meeting, so to say this book is timely is an understatement.
Generally, I was impressed with the way the plot progressed; excellent characterization of the sad but realistic outcome to women who thought sex would be their ticket out of a bad life. How many young girls think they, like Il-Sun in the book, are special enough to beat the odds? I realized as I read that I always wanted to read just one more chapter to find out what was going to happen.
Since the book involves human trafficking (I don't want this review to be a plot spoiler so I will stop at that), there are some scenes that probably will keep this novel from being recommended for high school reading. That said, I commend author Brandon Jones for presenting the horrors of this situation very realistically without lapsing into extended scenes. The plot moves on quickly from the graphic details, however, and sometimes there were very thought provoking passages, such as having to account for time (in chapter 54) and Mrs. Cha's contemplation in chapter 63: "Old age is the sum of all the small, bad decisions made in the ignorance of youth." (Even though she goes on to be an epic example of Schadenfreude with Daisy.)
Overall, I am so glad that I selected this book! I plan to recommend it to my book club. I made notations of many characters, events, and passages to discuss. Perhaps that's the former English teacher in me - can't read without making notations to facilitate class discussions. I hope Brandon W. Jones has more novels in the works.