- Author: Un-su Kim
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Thriller
- No. of pages: 304
- Dates read: 04.01.21 – 09.01.21
- Star Rating: 2.5 stars
- Challenge: ONTD January: Read a book by a South Korean author
Plot: Reseng was raised by cantankerous Old Raccoon in the Library of Dogs. To anyone asking, its just an ordinary library. To anyone in the know, its a hub for Seoul’s organised crime, and a place where contract killings are plotted and planned. So its no surprise that Reseng has grown up to become one of the best hitmen in Seoul. He takes orders from the plotters, carries out his grim duties, and comforts himself afterwards with copious quantities of beer and his two cats, Desk and Lampshade. But after he takes pity on a target and lets her die how she chooses, he finds his every move is being watched. Is he finally about to fall victim to his own game? And why does that new female librarian at the library act so strangely? Is he looking for his enemies in all the wrong places? Could he be at the centre of a plot bigger than anything he’s ever known?
I haven’t ventured out that much when it comes to reading books by authors from countries that aren’t the UK, America or Australia so when I saw the ONTD challenge was challenging people to broaden their horizons on translated novels I was super excited. Going into this book I didn’t know what to expect, there were things that I loved and also things that I didn’t care for. Let’s talk about it!
So, I don’t read many thrillers following assassins or anything. My thrillers just tend to be more grungy murder mysteries more than anything else so this vein of spys, assassins etc. was something I had never read before!
The writing was really interesting for me. The dialogue was really really good, I really enjoyed it when characters sat down and told their life story or contemplated the world together. The writing flowed really well and I was really engaged. The same goes for when the author wrote a chunk of exposition about elements of the Seoul underworld. I love a good exposition dump so it worked really well for me. Weirdly though, where I struggled was the more stream of consciousness, philosophical monologues or train of thought from the protagonist Reseng. Those sections bored me! I am not a massive fan of inner contemplation and heavy philosophical chat when it’s just one person thinking it so at times I found myself skimming over it.
The plot itself was really interesting but I got lost a bit by the end of it. I understood the main message of the novel and how all the characters got to where they are now. E.g. what actions led to certain characters meeting or what actions got people into trouble. But I just couldn’t really get why all of it was happening. By the end of it I just wanted to see what happened to the main characters rather than try to understand the plot itself.
Reseng wasn’t my favourite character. I found him a bit boring at times I think that is mainly due to his philosophical monologues that dotted the book which didn’t interest me. What I did enjoy were the female characters, they were really interesting. My interest is always piqued when you see women in a very male-dominated setting. So, I thoroughly enjoyed the character Mito. She was steadfast, intelligent and knew what she wanted. I found her to be a very compelling character, as well due to her compassion towards her sister. You find that most of the characters are out for themselves and only care about themselves, as is the nature of the job, but watching Mito care for her sister added another layer to her character.
Finally, probably my favourite part of the book was the worldbuilding. I loved going around exploring and learning more about what made up Seoul’s underworld. How it functioned, who worked in it, who were the big bosses etc. Reading about that was the best part of the novel, it was just so interesting. It’s weird because despite this being my favourite part of the novel, there’s not much else I can say apart from it was really, really good!
The next book I will be reviewing is The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. A book that I have seen so much hype for!!!