4 out of 4 stars
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The Korean resistance in the 20th century was a time when young and old from all walks of life fought the oppression of the Japanese. The Vanished by Pejay Bradley takes the reader on a journey through this time. The book is historical fiction and focuses on the lives of a group of young friends fighting for Korea. During this historical time, Japan was rising against Korea, China, and eventually the United States to become a dominant nation.
Embon was a pampered Korean born to an aristocratic mother and a wandering father. Embon was intelligent and was sent to the best schools. He graduated early and was sent away to Hokkaido University. Being a spoiled child, he was unaware of the Korean oppression until he was in college. There he joined a group of Korean students who were interested in the political and social issues plaguing Korea. He joins the fight and risks his life for the liberation of Korea from Japan. My views of Embon changed throughout the story. As a youngster, he was a spoiled, privileged child, who mistreated others. He acted as if they were less than him. I did not like Embon as a child and thought that he needed disciplined for his behavior toward others. Later in the story, the reader was given a glimpse of a hard-working student. Embon was extremely intelligent and trusting. He was naïve in the social and political aspects of Korea. I liked Embon’s intelligence and I felt sorry for his naivety. He was easily influenced by groups because he had been sheltered by his mother. As Embon became an adult, he was lazy and lacked ambition. At this stage, I disliked Embon because he had no drive or desire to work. Finally, he met up with his friends and joined the resistance, which gave him a focus and desire to stand up for Korea.
The book was interesting and provided a good description of life in Korea during the 20th century. The author did a good job of describing the Korean culture. She described arranged marriages, the life of aristocrats and orphans, and educational opportunities and differences in Korean society. The expectations of those fortunate to attend Japanese schools was provided. She also did a good job of describing the life of those willing to give up everything and become part of the resistance. She also described those who settled into the Japanese way of life. If there was anything to dislike about the book, it was the ending. The book leaves plenty of room for a sequel, since it did not describe the life of Embon once he decided to continue the resistance without his friends.
This book appears to be professionally edited. The errors were minimal and did not detract from the book. The descriptions of the people and places were realistic. The differences between the rich and poor were discussed. The book was interesting and kept my attention. I became entranced in a world that was unfamiliar to me. As a result, I gladly give this book 4 out of 4 stars.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. There are some fighting scenes that may be a bit too graphic for some readers. The language was acceptable for this type of story and there were no sexually explicit scenes.
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