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 can't remember when I've read or listened to anything quite as stunning as The Orphan Master's Son. First, I listened to "Escape From Camp 14" -- the nonfiction account of the only soul ever to escape a North Korean prison camp. Then I moved on to The Orphan Master's Son, a superb novel that spoon-feeds its reader with the bizaare reality that defines life inside North Korea. This novel is transfixing, profound, chilling, beautiful. Do I recommend it? Oh, yes.
This story contains nerve grinding realism of the brutal existence in North Korea that I have not read anywhere else. It is immediately entertaining and yet so challenging to persevere. The main character is both inspiring and upon occasion, despicable. Hats off to this author. If this is not the masterpiece of his life, I look forward to anything else he writes. Not a book for everyone yet a very rewarding experience to anyone who can brave though it. To my father- a wounded veteran of the Korean War- I now take pride in the importance your fighting and wish it could have prevented the terrible totalitarian government that now rules there.
I could not stop listening to this book. I wouldn't have been interested in reading it if it hadn't been for the recent news reports about North Korea after the death of the "dear leader". When you hear about starvation, work camps, and the supreme rule of one man over an entire people, it is difficult to imagine what that really means. This book brings it to life. It was difficult to listen to at several points, so be prepared, but it was worth it.
I recently visited South Korea - I'm glad I didn't go to the DMZ.
I have not read the print version, but I believe having the voices doing a bit of accent / dialect make it much better than anything I could envision in my own mind.
This is like seeing Animal Farm or 1984 come alive. The sad part is that so much of it was based on research, that this could possibly be the life some people have to live, or at least an approximation of it, since it is fiction after all.
The intonation for the speaker announcements and the character voices were very colorful.
It is hard to pick any singular moment in the book. The main character is very touching, and it is difficult to stop listening, even though you know his life is essentially a long train wreck....the power of the story keeps you listening, and a curiousity about how this character can rise above everything that comes his way and yet continue to develop, and maintain his essential goodness and humanity in spite of it all.
Single Father, East Indian, Cook, and audiobook lover (due to all the time in my car).
This book has a wonderful story to tell but the time and narrative shift adds an element suspense which I didn't see the next turn in the plot. I've read 1984, All Quiet on the Western Front, Lord of Flies, Lolita, War & Peace and numerous others and this book has the right to be considered part of that list.
The characters drew me into a story of living in a grim place that I would not have wanted to hear about for hours and hours without the character involvement. I don't know much about North Korea but this story was very informative and though fantastical, believable.
Yes, it has images and pictoids in words that I would like to savour time after time.
The authenticity is unparalleled, the author captured the spirit and hearts of the people he wrote about.Ringing true and incredibly heart breaking , I found myself looking inwards to the deep reaches of my soul, throughout this book.
If I had just read this book, the words would not have flowed in the cascading stream they became when I listened.
Yes, I was deeply disturbed by the character of the young interrogator, who himself is searching for his own soul.
This book is a classic work of fiction that will become the authoritative simile of North Korea, The book itself defies description, as a work of art, the story told is the life that One feels is the truth about the cultural psychology of a true dictatorship.
This is an insightful and well written and exceptionally well read novel. I have always avoided books with multiple narrators (I don't know why), but these narrators were complementary and the reading was seamless.
It's hard to pick out a memorable or favorite part... that's not the way I assimilate a story. The insights, both factual/historical and fictionalized about North Korea were enlightening and explained a lot of the strange (what I thought were strange) reactions after Kim Jung Il's death... Re-enforced my gratitude for being born an American.
This is a great read... don't miss it. I've never read anything like 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.