One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
I purchased the Kindle version of this when it was published. I gave up after 75 pages, believing it too dark and foreign for me to care much about it.
Then, Adam Johnson was awarded the Pulitzer Price in Fiction for 2013 for this novel, and I exclaimed, Good Grief! I bought the audiobook version, had to start over and gave up again around the same point.
For whatever reason though, I repurchased the audiobook, pulled out the Kindle version and made one more stab. Not 10 pages after my stopping point, I became interested and then I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.
And, I cannot laud it highly enough to do it justice in my book. Excellent development of characters and subtext to perfectly place of the reader in another world and a wonderful story that seemed so real (based loosely on one that is). The representation of North Korean life and the dictatorship made the story all the more profound and effective. Consider, for example, the news within the past 6 months that the Kim Jong Un had 9 orchestra members executed to squash rumors that his wife, a singer, was "friendly" prior to marrying the Jong Un.
A quote in the book relating life in North Korea:
“I wonder of what you must daily endure in America, having no government to protect you, no one to tell you what to do. Is it true you're given no ration card, that you must find food for yourself? Is it true that you labor for no higher purpose than paper money? What is California, this place you come from? I have never seen a picture. What plays over the American loudspeakers, when is your curfew, what is taught at your child-rearing collectives? Where does a woman go with her children on Sunday afternoons, and if a woman loses her husband, how does she know the government will assign her a good replacement? With whom would she curry favor to ensure her children got the best Youth Troop leader?”
This novel has adventure, suspense, a great literary structure and even some romance:
“They’re about a woman whose beauty is like a rare flower. There is a man who has a great love for her, a love he’s been saving up for his entire life, and it doesn’t matter that he must make a great journey to her, and it doesn’t matter if their time together is brief, that afterward he might lose her, for she is the flower of his heart and nothing will keep him from her.”
I loved this book. The parts with Kim Jong-il gave me goosebumps and were scary funny.
This is the best book I've read/listened to in quite a few years. Sometimes perseverence pays, particularly in audiobooks. I probably wouldn't have finished this if I'd had to pick back up the book in print instead of just turning up the audio version on the way to and from work.
I think Adam Johnson writes with a clear eye and able to use words well to convey the starkness of the life of a young man in North Korea. At times I had to turn off the book and wait serveral days to resume it. It made my chest hurt. I will have to see what he writes about next before I will get another book.
Not for me. My skin is not tough enough
I was fooled by the Pulitzer. This is a singularly uninteresting, charmless book about a topic that is currently newsworthy, but about which the author knows next to nothing. The glowing reviews must be coming from other innocent people who know even less about the topic. Very disappointing. Three stars because he got a lot of words onto a lot of pages and someone was patient enough to do a good job of reading them.
Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.
This book is effective against insomnia. Thanks, but still, the slow-moving story and lifeless narration could not convince me to continue listening after the first 1,000 hours or so. Or maybe it just felt like 1,000 hours, and that didn't even get me out of Part I. Waste of time, waste of money
OMG! don't get me started
NO!! slap yourself for suggesting that
I want my money back.
I read nothing that is popular.
I had really high hopes for this book, but it is one of the worse novels that I ever read. It seems like the author doesn't really go in depth at what it is like being in North Korea. It seems like the author just watched a few documentaries, read news articles on North Korea and started writing the story around the premise. Yet another top secret, James Bond, spy novel. If you change the country to other than North Korea, you will have the same story with slightly alter cultural facts.
The narrators are equally as bad. I understand that you need to act like your characters, but it is almost unbearable to listen to with their Korean accents with broken English.
If you want to read about North Korea from a first person perspective, look elsewhere, like "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" or even, "The World Is Bigger Now: An American Journalist's Release from Captivity in North Korea."
They are much better books on the subject and the struggle, living/captive in a communist country.. If you don't believe me, you can search my reviews.
Read something else other than the Orphan Master's Son. The book is poorly written on speculations on Kim Jong Il and the country.
For being a book of fiction I thought it was a bit long. The back and forth in time lost me at times. But it was another reason I love and appreciate my Country even during crazy times.
Dark is the tale of North Korean life.
If it's anything like this, thank your lucky stars you are free.
Interesting characters with grit, beauty, depth and tragedy. A heavy read. It's going to stay with me for a long time. Maybe forever. That may be a sign of a great book. You just cant shake it. Powerful.
One of my favorite books ever. Excellent narration and incredible writing and story. A rare blend of literary and entertainment value.
While this book takes place in North Korea following the life of an orphan, and this aspect of the story is fascinating, what struck or surprised me most was how much more important the narrative of one's life conformed with reality as described by state propaganda and not actual reality. It made me reflect on the narratives that exist in our own country to explain the world. Could we ever progress to the point of North Korea? For this insight I am grateful to the author and beyond the great story, this is the reason to listen to this book.