Advance reader reviews of The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson.

The Orphan Master's Son

A Novel

By Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2012,
    464 pages.

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There are currently 32 member reviews
for The Orphan Master's Son
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  • WDH (FL)


    Bizarre but Captivating
    I was completely engrossed in the story from the opening pages and remained captivated until the end. Very descriptive passages of life in a country where everyone lives in fear, there is no such thing as truth and survival means finding a place deep within yourself to escape what is really happening around you. Torture, murder, starvation, lies, propaganda and disappearances are accepted as normal and for the most part ignored because to call attention to any of those things or question them might mean you disappear as well. The main character led a completely bizarre life - from orphan to impostor - with many adventures in between. The other character that resonated was the prison camp photographer and what becomes of her photographs. There are a few 'over the top' areas, but they aren't too much of a distraction. I read the final paragraph several times. Highly recommend.
  • William E. (Honolulu, HI)


    Life in the Greatest Nation in the World
    ....or so Dear Leader proclaims. The book describes grim life in North Korea. That as a backdrop, the story of Jun Do is a picaresque fable of identity and life shifting. I found the juxtaposition of the grim reality of life and the theatrical lives a bit jarring. The book is certainly a worthwhile read though.
  • Jill S. (Chicago, IL)


    Vividly original and imaginative
    Part adventure thriller, part real-life dystopia documentary, part imaginative feat, Adam Johnson searingly paints a portrait of a culture where the individual is erased and the collective is all that matters. Filled with twists and turns and exposure of the dark realities of life in North Korea (kidnapping of innocents, repression and propaganda), this is truly an imaginative feat. Fans of writers like David Mitchell and Denis Johnson have another treat in store!
  • Michele W. (Kiawah Island, SC)


    Trauma narrative
    Adam Johnson describes his new book, The Orphan Master's Son as a trauma narrative, and it is. But it's also beautifully complex, densely plotted and peopled with memorable characters struggling to live in the twisted world of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il. It's horrifying, exciting, touching, funny, demanding, and impossible to describe adequately in 50 words. If you love David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas or The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, I believe you will adore The Orphan Master's Son.
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