Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 19 – The Vanished

Dear Readers,

I read and reviewed a book from onlinebookclub.org again. The review I wrote for this platform is already publised and you can read it here. Pejay Bradley’s The Vanished is a historical fiction novel, set in the Korea of the early 20th century.

Picture from the amazon kindle release that I read.

Starting with the cover, it is designed quite nicely and simply. The colors harmonize and in it’s entirety the front page appears very peaceful and calm. The flowers seem to refer to the preferred decorations of furniture of Prince Aansoon and his daughter Lady Sougyon. I really like the tender arrangement of this thrilling and mysterious title, which is a great choice describing the story and topics in a decent and well thought-out way, I think.

The Vanished by Pejay Bradley is about Kim Embon, a Korean aristocrat, who fights as a nationalist for the independence of his home country in the first half of the 20th century. The story starts with narrations of his mother Lady Sougyon – also the only character, who gets narrated by a first-person narrator – in the summer of 1912. At this point of time, Korea has already been annexed by Japan two years earlier. Embon grows up without a father, but he still lives a quite privileged life. Also, he is extraordinarily intelligent. He gets accepted for early admission at Hokkaido Imperial University on an island in the very north of Japan. There, he finds his dearest friends, the Koreans Hain Park, Ahn Yangwoo and Insoo. All four of them want a sovereign home country again and they’re ready to fight for it.

I certainly think, this historical fiction novel is a very good book. It was well researched and I got the feeling of the history being the main focus of Bradley, while she was writing it. The author did gorgeous work in developing the personalities too; even minor characters have been characterized sharply and interestingly. If there wasn’t much information about someone, then it was valid why that was the case. But I liked the most, how vivid Embon’s development was. While reading, one got much knowledge about his emotions, thoughts and actions. The main figure went through many different situations and tasks, lived extremely contrary lives and needed to deal with a kind of emotion, which, I think, is hard to understand for people of the modern western world, where arranged marriages aren’t common. The mixture of it all made reading his alteration very interesting. Additionally, Bradley’s writing style is very pleasant, fluent and rich in adjectives, which made reading The Vanished quite a nice experience. I just noticed one bothering aspect, which was the usage of Japanese language in some scenes, such as “Sodesu ka.” on page 146. I totally back the utilization of foreign languages in novels because it often supports the feeling of the situation, but only, when there is a translation given, which wasn’t the case in The Vanished.

Though I relished the book, I’m not sure, if I would read it a second time. It was a nice and interesting story with lovely characters and impressive historical facts, but it wasn’t as compelling for me as other books. If you like reading historical novels, you should definitely give it a try. I’m sure it will enrich your bookshelf.

Hope you’re well,
Aly

PS: You can buy the book on amazon.com.

Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 11 – Genex of Halcyon

Dear Readers,

the review of this week will be rather short. For one part that’s because currently I have much work to do and for the other part it’s because I got this book from the online book club (OnlineBookClub.org) to read and review it. I’m not allowed to repost the review anywhere, so I will write a short and slightly different one for my blog and a longer, more detailed one for the online book club, where you can read it too soon.

“Genex of Halcyon” is a science-fiction novel describing a near-future utopia written by Joshua Stelling. The book was firstly published on 24th of September in 2019 by Arch Gravity Publishing. You find it under the ISBN 9780692184271.

The cover is quite dark and oppressive, the flowerlike plants in the front spend the only warm colour. As the title and author are written in a very simple style it builds an interesting contrast to the in some ways chaotic background. Though there is a light shining from far away, it seems like the cover of a dystopia. My interpretation of the cover supports the thesis that there is a little good in every bad situation, which would fit some philosophical statements explained by some characters in the book. Overall it’s maybe not the most welcoming start of a book, but it portrays the content pretty well I think.

Portraying a possible version of our future in about thirty years, Stelling created a complex social story around two to three main characters. Reading the first chapters I was mostly confused about the plot because he switched between perspectives very often. It makes it hard to understand all connections at the beginning but makes it interesting for rereading. The fiction covers a large number of interesting topics like love, death, the sense of life, betrayal, the way how minorities get treated and how to deal with no privacy for more security. Climate change and astronomy have been relevant as well, which increased the motivation to read it for me even more. Joshua Stelling presents in “Genex of Halcyon” a version of our future that is a warning in many ways. At the same time, it fascinates as a fantasy adventure about a lot of our opportunities. He closes with a collection of his own poetry that builds a calm feeling after a thrilling end.

Stylistically it’s incredible. There are parts that I just couldn’t stop reading because they were so catching, most of them have been about philosophical theories and the meaning of stars and the universe, so I guess that’s a topic one needs to be interested in advance, but if you are, it feels like reading a masterpiece. Sadly some elements didn’t take me in, confused and bored me at some points, but to expect a book to be brilliant at every word wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be real anymore in no way.

After all “Genex of Halcyon” is a copacetic Sci-Fi – utopia (or dystopia depending on the point of view) – philosophy novel-poetry mixture. I will definitely read at least a second time. By doing so, I hope to get the plot a bit better and more rooted than so far. Of course, I’m looking forward to enjoying the philosophical, astronomical and poetic parts again as well.

Hope you’re having a good time,
Aly

PS: I got “new” books on rebuy (a great way to buy second hand), so I’m gonna read them next and review them soon. Both are written or translated in German so I’ll probably do two entrys for each book again.