I’ve had a pretty mixed go of things with the Kindle First free book selections, and this one falls slightly above the middle for me. I was in the mood for something with an historical footing, and the off-beat structure of this drew me in very quickly, though it disappointed in the ultimate execution of the story.
The story takes place over two timelines, one short afternoon in the present, and over several weeks as recalled by the main character. Yoona, our narrator, is being held hostage by a man with a gun in her dorm room along with a few of her new friends, while the FBI negotiates their release. Over the course of their confinement, Yoona recalls a trip the previous summer to South Korea, where she met her captor and fell in love with his best friend, Jaesung. The three become swept up in protests and underground political action while there, and the effects are still being felt in the present.
My biggest issue with the book was how little the story focused on the political issues it touches on. The focus on the characters inside of the larger action make for a very personal story, but because it’s so focused on their relationships, the protests and issues they touch on feel very cast aside and minimized. The protests in South Korea that she encounters feel trivialized and brushed over in service of the love story being told. Their love story is relatively engaging, if a little shallow. (Also there’s some real timeline issues that don’t work if you think about them too long.) The pacing and the interweaving of the two stories works very well, and I was engrossed in the plot. Seeing how Lloyd in particular got from his Point A in the backstory to Point B in the dorm room was well executed. I got through the book very quickly, but it ultimately didn’t leave much of an impact.