It took me a couple of attempts to get into this book. At the beginning there are three distinctly separate, but alternating stories, which I found a little confusing. Only when the stories started melding together (about halfway through) did it become an easier and more coherent read. Perhaps I’m not quite as sharp as I once was, or maybe the physical page count (it is a long book) overwhelmed me?
I was also wrong footed by a statement at the front of the book which said there was a piece at the end of the book that would explain what was real and what was fantasy from within the confines and rules of North Korea. The statement requested that this was not read until the book was finished. Fair enough, I complied: but in doing so I missed the glossary of Korean terms also located at the back of the book! As a consequence, I spent lots of unnecessary time on the internet looking up Korean phrases that were hidden in plain sight. As my book is a pre publication version, perhaps the publisher will look into changing this for the production run?
Grumbles over, this was quite a good read. Abducted children, Korean missiles, plans to breed half Korean children and seed them covertly into Western countries, a high ranking Korean defector, an aged Korean woman struggling to survive and a determined rookie CIA operative. The plot was well structured, properly thought through and executed competently.
My comments about the different story strands aside, the story truly romped along. I found myself being drawn in wanting to know what happened next. I found myself looking things up on the internet wanting to know if they were likely fact or fiction. The brutality and controlling methods of the Korean state shone through. I found this book not only entertaining, but educational.
As with all good works of fiction though, it’s the characters that make it. The characters in this book are well rounded and credible. The author makes them likeable even when they’re doing things that aren’t so good.
My only qualm about the story itself is that a couple of loose ends were tidied away in a rather hackneyed fashion, but this didn’t spoil the overall story. In fact, it makes me wonder if a follow up book is in the pipeline?
More than happy to run to 4 anchors with this one, I enjoyed it.