I had tried to get my hands on R.O.Kwon’s debut novel for several months without success and in the end I am so glad that I finally was able to get my hands on the hardcover version to add with pride to my collection.
R.O.Kwon’s debut book was beautiful. The prose was nothing like I had read before and it felt like the words and images were dancing around my head.
One of the most brilliant pieces of this book for me was the way in which the story was told. Kwon used one narrator – Will, a white male that had recently lost his faith to relay three different points of view – Phoebe, Will’s Korean girlfriend he has an obsession with and John Leal, a Korean cult leader. Right away, you can see how allowing Will to re-create the events with his own limited perception and tainted experiences will end up unfolding, creating tension and confusion as well as inaccuracies and misunderstandings.
As tricky and possibly confusing as this sounds, Kwon was able to accomplish a beautifully crafted sequence of events, wrapping it up all nicely in the end. I found it simple yet complicated as a result.
All three of the characters are complex and damaged. They are fractured and struggling to find something to fill the void when suffering from great loss. As each character tries to navigate through life asking themselves the big questions and trying to find their identify and place in the world and with each other, Kwon shows us just how dark and dangerous it can be when dealing with extreme insecurities, the aftermath of tragedy and increased vulnerability. She creates unsettling images and consequences that come from ideas of faith and violence.
I found this book to be mesmerizing thanks to the flow of the language and magnetic thanks to the dynamic of the relationships and tragic results from misperceptions.