4 out of 4 stars
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The Vanished by Pejay Bradley is an historical novel about the conflicts that arose when Japan took over Korea in the early to mid-1900’s. It follows an extended family over the lifespan of Embon, born into a prominent family but raised non-traditionally by just his mother and servants. His father, although mostly absent from Embon’s life, is mentioned but seldom appears in the story only when he needs a handout. Embon has a worry-free, happy childhood with a good education where he excels in his studies and earns acceptance to a prominent university in Japan, Hokkaido Imperial University, and attends before even finishing high school. As Japan has been slowly taking over Korea and its culture, it is here where Embon develops strong bonds with friends who eventually become his comrades as they join the fight against Japanese rule of Korea.
Pejay Bradley lives in the US now but she is from Korea so her book has an authenticity that is clear all throughout the story. The Korean language references sprinkled throughout the book are used consistently so they are easy to keep up with. The characters and their names add interest to the story. And the historical events and cultural ways are accurate as well. This book has a flashback style that flips back and forth in time a bit but it is tastefully done and any confusion that could arise from that is minimal.
There is nothing about this book that I did not like and I truly enjoyed reading it. I actually finished it very quickly because it was so good. There are no grammatical or spelling errors. There is no profanity or sexual content of any kind and the only adult content would be some of the details of the atrocities of war and the way the civilians were treated. The storyline flows over these events very respectfully and it moves through time smoothly. And the title is a wise choice and may be a tribute to those people in Korea that this story tells about.
Although this book is not that historical, going back less than a century, those interested in historical fiction would find this book very enjoyable. The culture of Korea is ancient in and of itself and the characters in this story are mostly traditional in the way they live, marry, eat, work, and value boys and men over women, the latter likely different today but still a large part of the culture.
I gave this book 4 out of 4 stars because I found it to be engaging and a great read. There are no errors of any kind so it has been edited. I love the historical aspect of it. I like how the author is herself authentic being from Korea. And I learned a lot about how Japan bullied small countries and even larger ones like China and the US in their attempt to exert power. The Vanished by Pejay Bradley has something for everyone.
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