What readers think of The Orphan Master's Son, plus links to write your own review.

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The Orphan Master's Son

A Novel

by Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson X
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Jan 2012, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2012, 480 pages

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There are currently 35 reader reviews for The Orphan Master's Son
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Linda N. (Dallas, TX)

The Orphan Master's Son
A disturbing,challenging book that takes the reader into North Korean culture where truth finds expression in lies and deceit. Intrigue, danger, and glimpses of human vulnerability define this unique rites of passage story. The plot is rich; the characters are as illusive as the fabricated lives they live. The story haunts long after the last page.
Annie P. (Murrells Inlet, SC)

The Orphan Master's Son
“Citizens, gather round your loudspeakers …” – what a beginning to an absolutely fascinating story! Imagine having an announcement every morning, in your home, office, any building in the country, giving you the day’s news, recipes, stories, and a constant barrage of propaganda with which to mold your thoughts until there is no individual, just a human extension of the government.

It took a little time getting into the story; there were many characters, who would come and go, some never to be seen again, others popping in with regularity. Once they settled down, or I became accustomed to them, the story began rolling along. Everything is ruled by the government, what your job is, who you will marry, and always, Big Brother watching, listening. Jun Do’s experiences from the time he lived in the orphanage until he transformed into something else so much later on, were interesting, shocking, miserable. The lack of conscience for some of the people comes across loud and clear, while others seem to only be biding their time.
At first, I may not have selected this book off the shelf. Now, I’m very glad to have had a chance to read it; not doing so would have been a huge error on my part. I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in another culture, the way romance is handled, battles waged, and children raised. Read it and like me, be glad you did.
Nancy F. (carmel, in)

Addictive read...
This would not be a genre that I would normally read, however I was intrigued by the offering.
This unique story captured me from the beginning. Even though I am widely read across many cultures, this is the first novel I have read about North Korean life.
The character development is terrific and my caring for them made the story even more suspenseful. I would recommend this book to my friends and my book club as it has so many points of view to discuss.
Carmen S. (Elkins, Arkansas)

Painfully good
Powerful book. Sometimes painful to read but so engrossing you can't put it down.
Steve B. (Spring, TX)

Somber Tale of a Vile Country
Before reading this novel, I knew North Korea was a country with a demonic leader. What I learned was that the citizens deserve our sympathy. Every vile aspect of life in the former Soviet Union of which I have heard, has apparently been replicated and enhanced in North Korea.
This is a very informative and well written story. The only reason that I did not give it 5 stars is because the message is so sad and depressing. The image of the plight of the people will stay with me for a long time.
Eileen E. (Asheville, NC)

The Stepford Wives revisited
North Korea--a country shrouded in mystery.
The author opens the gates and I was shocked, sometimes horrified by what was behind them.
Jun Do is the orphan masters son, and it is through his eyes that we see this repressive paranoid country unfold. Kim Jong II, the only person that can truly call himself an individual has created a world of robots who wear the same exact outfits and get to listen to morning propaganda on the apartment loudspeakers every day. The is so much in this book to experience I am only touching the tip of the iceberg.
I am so grateful to be living in a free country. An hour or two with this book and I know you will agree wholeheartedly.
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.
Teresa R. (Fort Collins, CO)

Harrowing, nightmarish, surreal
Imagining the tale of an individual living under North Korea’s dehumanized and repressive regime was a heroic undertaking, and the author’s exhaustive background research for the book was masterly. But I had trouble throughout with the story’s fragmented chronology, and several key plot elements seemed implausible to me. For example, the narrative states that the protagonist Jun Do, an uneducated orphan, had only one year of English instruction (by an Angolan at that), but as part of a delegation to Texas really? he served as interpreter, demonstrating vast fluency in speaking to and understanding his American hosts. Perhaps it was the author’s ironic intent, but all the characters present in this brutally inhumane setting seemed flat and one-dimensional. I labored to get through this book and would not recommend it.

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