Happy Tuesday Readers! Here’s a look at what I read this week:
This is the true story of a young North Korean woman’s defection and life afterwards, including how she brought her mother and brother out of North Korea. It took me a long time to get through this book, partly because it was so depressing to read about all of the setbacks the author experienced. The descriptions of what life is like in North Korea were fascinating, and it is easy to see why many defectors have difficulty adjusting to life in free society.
Although the author’s story is an important one, and worth telling, the book dragged in places for me. I’m not sure if it was the translation or the fact that the author herself is not a writer, but at times the book read like it was written by a young child – “first this happened, then this happened”. I imagine that when writing a memoir it’s difficult to decide which events to include and which to leave out. I think the book would have been easier to get through if some events were weeded out. Having said that, I can’t even imagine the strength it took for the author to go through what she did. Her story is truly amazing.
Years ago, I read the Alex Rider books, a YA series by Horowitz that I really enjoyed. They were fast paced, James Bond-esque, and I found that many of the boys in my class who didn’t like reading liked these books. So I was excited to read this book and have had it on my TBR list since before it was published.
The storyline is quite interesting. Susan, an editor at a small publishing house goes home for the weekend with a new manuscript from one of their most popular authors, the ninth in his series of murder mysteries. After this brief introduction, we turn the page to find the manuscript of this mystery taking up the next 200 pages or so. When we return to reality and our editor, an actual murder has occurred and Susan starts acting as the detective, trying to determine the identity of the murderer. It’s two mysteries in one, and I found it fascinating how Horowitz connected the characters in the mystery novel with the ones in “real life”.
Although I really wanted to love this book, in the end I thought it was just ok. There were quite a few parts that I felt dragged on too long, and I missed the action and pace of Horowitz’s other books. At some points I felt like I didn’t really care too much about the murder victim or who had killed him. Also, and this is quite a serious flaw in my opinion, I figured out who the murderer was quite early on in the second section of the book. Overall, although this is a well written book, I was left feeling a little disappointed.
Set in the not too distant future, America is no longer a unified fifty states, but rather separate zones existing inside a “salt line”, a wall to keep out the infestation of killer ticks that decimated the world’s population a few generations ago. Inside the zones you are safe from these ticks, living a relatively comfortable life. Outside the zone, you are told, no one can survive.
Some of the zone’s wealthier citizens, looking for an escape, a vacation into the wild, pay for a company to teach them how to survive outside the zone and take them on a three week excursion. When the book opens, a new group of tourists is about to start their expedition. There’s Jesse, a young pop star, and his girlfriend Edie, Wes, the owner of a hugely successful tech startup, and Marta, the wife of the largest crime boss in the zone. These four, along with the rest of their tour group, end up getting more than they bargained for on their trip. Ticks are not the only thing that can kill you out of the zone.
I find this type of post-apocalyptic story interesting, and this was a new take on the idea of humans trying to survive a natural disaster of sorts. I liked the way the author showed how none of the characters were entirely good or bad, by showing the reader what motivated them to act as they did. As with most books of this type, the book ended without tying up all the loose ends, but it did end on a hopeful note. Worth reading, unless you are deathly afraid of ticks; if so I would steer clear of this one.
That’s all for now – leave me a comment and let me know what you are reading!