Book #83: The Orphan Master’s Son

Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master’s Son, 2012, 443p

Welp, this is a book that really messes with your sense of reality.

Would I have ever read this on my own? Nope. But when you are leading a book club with a bunch of older ladies who can ALWAYS TELL when you don’t read the book… you’re kind of stuck aren’t you?

So I read it.

Set in North Korea, Jun Do (yep – literally John Doe, basically a nobody) is an orphan master’s son, stuck with the worst of the duties and responsibilities. AFter that, he becomes a professional kidnapper then takes on his most difficult role yet – the rival to Kim Jong Il. Jun Do does everything he can to protect his new-found love, but will it be enough?

First thing that popped into my head was how much of this is the truth?

First of all, Jun Do seems to be constantly choosing his own sense of reality and identity. Was he ever really the Orphan Master’s son or did he choose to believe that to make up for the cruel treatment? This book takes the old adage of “fake it til you make it” to heart. Jun Do goes from zero to hero in roughly 450-pages – victim to master.

Also, as I know little to nothing about North Korea, is this an accurate portrayal of life in that country? Apparently Johnson based this off interviews with North Korean defectors, so it must have some hints of truthfulness. In that case, holy geebs.

This is not the worst book club book I’ve read but it won’t top the list of the best.



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