3 out of 4 stars
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The Vanished by Pejay Bradley is a historical fiction novel set in early twentieth century Korea. Embon is a young man born to a royal mother with a deadbeat husband from a lower social class. Bradley weaves Embon’s life story effortlessly into detailed Korean history with Embon ultimately falling in line with a group of Korean nationalists. How does a young man from a good family fall in with a group like this? What was the political and social climate leading up to the formation of such a group?
This novel holds true to its category and includes mention of many historically accurate people and events. It was evident by the amount of detail that there was a significant amount of research that went in to writing this. This was my favorite part about the book. I felt that the author appropriately portrayed the opinions of the time in a way that is both respectful and honest.
There were parts of the book that I felt could have been left out. There was a lot of focus in the beginning on Embon’s mother and her life. There was a sudden transition to focusing on Embon and I felt that this could have been structured better. The focus on Embon’s mother was so intense that for a while I thought she was the main character. When the focus shifted to Embon I was left slightly confused. However, there were aspects of his mother’s life, like her lineage, that were important to include.
There are no instances of vulgar language and no scenes of a sexual nature. There are some instances of racial stereotyping and negative opinions of Japan and Japanese people. These are not included gratuitously and are used to help explain Korean-Japanese relations. There are also descriptions of murder, suicide, and parts of the book that reflect a cultural preference for men and male children. The discussions of murder and suicide are conducted in a frank manner without getting to deep in to grisly details. There are some references to a preference for western social norms and customs as well. For these reasons, this book may not be for everyone.
I found very few errors and felt that this had been professionally edited. The story flowed well with the exception I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I felt the inclusion of Korean terms added culture to the story and did not feel overwhelmed by their use. I give this three out of four stars . I don’t feel that four stars is appropriate because the errors included character names.
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