An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master’s Son follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction that focuses on life perspective and cultural norms, particularly themes depicting traditional North Korean culture and individual experience.
I appreciated how the author, Adam Johnson, was able to provide insight, engagement, and interest about the characters and stories he included.
I did feel that it was a bit filtered somehow though. The tone often read more like a report or a political news journal article than exploring the deeper aspects of human response and emotion.
I liked the premise, but the delivery was less than favorable to me. First, I found it difficult to embrace both the main takeaway and the love story. Because for me, the love story got lost in the minutia of telling contrasting westernized viewpoints through simplistic observations. Other observations were belabored at some points. Second, I would have liked the comparing and contrasting (especially those seemingly from a westernized mindset) to be replaced with just the thoughts and actions of the characters and leave it to the reader to figure out what was different and similar. I found myself wanting the writer to just tell it like it is.
After reading the epilogue; however, I understood why and in what ways the writer wrote the more difficult tragedies and stories with restraint. But again, I felt the author had more to share and I would have liked to have seen it all be told unrestrained. And I was glad to read about an explanation for the less than realistic blood exchange piece.