Saturday, September 1, 2012

Delicate and Touching

A review for Tendrils of Life

Format: Paperback
I liked the cover, the beautiful sunset and what it says on the front and the back, and was hooked by the first chapters in the sample, yet was unsure whether I would really enjoy the rest. But what a gem it turned out to be. I thought it would mostly be passages about the war, but the book was surprisingly character- and scene-oriented.

Even the historical snippets, which are interlaced with the plot, are presented as real-time scenes, and they were much more enjoyable than ordinary flashbacks. I liked how the book had many short chapters as opposed to a few long ones. The unexpected turns at the end of many of these chapters kept the book moving. From the first chapter, where Jimin departs from his island, to the tragedies and difficulties he and Sora suffer, to the sad but triumphant end, I was filled with high emotions.

Sora's reflections on her childhood in America and her views of Americans were very interesting to me. Jimin's dramatic discovery of her identity as his former next-door neighbor he had secretly fallen in love with was heartwarming, and I enjoyed all the interactions between the two. (In hindsight, some of this was a bit too convenient. But otherwise the events and the heartbreaking separation of Jimin and Misern were highly believable.)

One thing I wasn't sure about: Except for the few Korean words, the book including the dialogue is in ordinary English. It didn't sound like most Koreans in the US speak. I thought the dialogues were too Americanized. It felt somewhat forced, especially the few times when the characters use things such as double negatives (but could there be a similar style in Korean? Maybe I'm wrong).

But overall the book is filled with touching moments, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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