The Orphan Master's Son is one of the most astonishing novels I have ever read. It's a persuasive portrait of a mysteriously opaque country, North Korea, and how the world must appear through that particular looking glass. It's a beautifully orchestrated tale of a good man who manages to preserve his sense of himself in a land where nothing personal can survive. It's a fascinating meditation on the nature of fiction, in a place where propaganda has turned everything to fiction.
The audio narration is exquisite.
One caution: there are moments of extreme brutality that are very hard to listen to. They are not gratuitous, indeed they are essential, but they are very raw.
The audio in this book is flawless. The readers draw you in with their subtly and nuance.
While the story takes a turn after the Texan event that initially seems implausible, the last third of the book makes it all unfold so well that you are left thinking about the amazing complexity of Kim Jung Il as a person who propagates such a society, eve if most of it is fiction.
The story has set me on a path to read/listen to more books about North Korea so I can garner a greater appreciation of this mysterious country.
This is an unusually crafted book that sounds convoluted but still comes together well into a fascinating experience to listen to. It is presented in several perspectives (and several voices) for different views of the same story - almost a little Rashomon-like: The protagonist, who begins life in an orphanage where he is named Jun Do, his interrogator who tries to learn his story while adding elements of his own life throughout the process, and finally, the propagandizing broadcasts to all "Citizens!" that put an official spin on his story as well as lending ambiance and flavour to the unique location (North Korea).
The specifics of all the characters' lives and experiences in North Korea are interesting, though I don't know how many of them are true -- but that doesn't matter. As the story reports, in North Korea the story is more important than the person, and the truth is what you are told is the truth, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. This is fiction, after all, and as long as you recognize that this is fiction not fact (and that history is written by the victors), it's a great book.
Say something about yourself!
Compelling, haunting, inescapable.
Apart from The Orphan Master's Son being an incredible "read" I would listen to more of the narrators' work regardless of subject matter. Phenomenal job.
My lasting impression of this novel will be the authors view of life in North Korea and those who occupy 'the most democratic nation on Earth'. The representation of the 'lovely leader' was mesmerizing. Romance, horror, mystery, how to build a dictatorship, a little of everything. Very enjoyable.
I am well educated and like sophisticated books.
I already have started listening to it for a second time. Tim Kang's vocal performance is absolutely first rate. The tone color of his voice is warm and easy to listen to. The various "voices" he uses for the different characters are amazing.
It's a love story, a thriller and a political narrative all at the same time.
always looking for the next fabulous audiobook. I'm so glad to have found the audible website.
Listening to this reminds me of just how sad and corrupt the state of North Korea
must be, where children and women are treated as commodities, and where survival
is a matter of conformity to a corrupt and heartless regime
I suppose it would have got better if I had have kept going. But the negativity and hardship just got to me, and I couldn't finish it.
It has been reviewed very well elsewhere, so perhaps my take on it is not accurate.
I love reading and going on vacation with my family.
The Orphan Master's Son is a story of a most wondrous and great puppet master. His name is Kim Jong Il and he decides who a person is and what they do with their lives. In fact, if he doesn't like you, he will make you in to someone else and everybody else must accept this as well because this man is the Dear Leader and everything he does is for the betterment of his people.
At the start of the novel we meet Pak Jun Do. Jun Do lives in an orphanage with a man he believes to be his father, although we never learn the truth. He does well at jobs assigned to him and works his way up through the ranks as a government pawn, sent out on missions to snatch Japanese citizens from their shores and bring them back for the dear leaders amusement. He later joins a team of fisherman intent on catching shrimp for the Dear Leader feast.
Accidents happen during the course of these events and elaborate stories must be made up in order to ensure people involved are not punished because there is only a very slim window you can live in, to guarantee your own safety from the Dear Leaders wrath. These stories eventually make Jun Do a hero. He even gets to make a trip to Texas from North Korea. Later, Jun Do does something to land himself in a work camp, where he labors in the uranium mines which eventually leads to a run-in with Commander Ga , the Dear Leaders rival.
This is part where Johnson starts to lose me and it begins to be a struggle for me to continue with this book. I just had such a hard time accepting the likelihood that something like this would really happen. Unfortunately, this fact is central to most of the story, hence the difficulty stomaching the seriousness of the story. I do believe Johnson was attempting to demonstrate just how controlled people are by fear of the Dear Leader. The Dear Leader, undoubtedly, was quite please to be rid of his long-time rival.
The Orphan Master's son is a complex work for me. On one hand I feel it paints a pretty good picture of what life must be like for the average citizen in North Korea, but on the other hand I felt it was presented with an edge of sarcasm. This may be, partially, a result of my having listened to the audio book version. Another part of me knows that the author was trying to present just how ridiculous life under the rule "Dear Leader" can be. For me this took the edge off the seriousness of the material that I feel may make the uninformed reader discredit the ridiculous stories contained within the book.
When I was nearing the end of this book, I was sure that it would be a 3-star read for me. There are several times I guffawed, like when the Dear Leader gives food aid to all the starving people in the United States. After the prologue, I immediately boosted my book rating to 4 stars. I had not realized just how much research went in to this creation and have to give the man credit for going to North Korea and asking some tough questions. This is a tough book to rate, categorize and review, I could not recommend it outright. I can say that if you are interested in the life of North Koreans, this may be a book for you to read, but I think you need to have a least some idea of what the heck is going on in North Korea to have an appreciation for it.
I bought this book because I have been fascinated by North Korea for some time now. Unfortunately, I found this book was WAY too confusing to follow. It jumped around so much that I could never figure out how characters wound up being getting a certain job and doing things... Perhaps if I had been able to get through the first few hours, I may have enjoyed this book, but I was so confused I Just couldn't continue.