Star of the North A novel

David John, 1966-

Book - 2018

"A propulsive and ambitious thriller about a woman trying to rescue her twin sister from captivity in North Korea, and the North Korean citizens with whom she forms an unlikely alliance Star of the North opens in 1988, when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twenty-two years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her, and ends up on the radar of the CIA. When evidence that her sister may still be alive in No...rth Korea comes to light, Jenna will do anything possible to rescue her--including undertaking a daring mission into the heart of the regime. Her story is masterfully braided together with two other narrative threads. In one, a North Korean peasant woman finds a forbidden international aid balloon and uses the valuables inside to launch a dangerously lucrative black-market business. In the other, a high-ranking North Korean official discovers, to his horror, that he may be descended from a traitor, a fact that could mean his death if it is revealed. As the novel progresses, these narrative strands converge and connect in surprising ways, ultimately building to an explosive and unforgettable climax"--

Saved in:

1st Floor Show me where

FICTION/John David
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/John David Checked In
Subjects
Genres
Suspense fiction
Thrillers (Fiction)
Political fiction
Published
New York : Crown [2018]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
402 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780525573296
0525573291
Main Author
David John, 1966- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Welsh author John uses three memorable primary characters to tell a remarkable story about the most opaque country on Earth: North Korea. Set largely in the final years of Kim Jong Il's reign as the country's Dear Leader, circa 2010–11, this tale will resonate with any reader unnerved by the threat of nuclear war or by President Trump's intemperate threats and name-calling. Jenna Williams—half African American, half South Korean—is a Georgetown professor. She is haunted by her twin sister's disappearance years before from a South Korean beach; when the CIA recruits her, she accepts the assignment. Colonel Cho, a North Korean diplomat whose successful negotiations with the Americans have made him a rising star in the government, is worried about undergoing a deep background check by the feared state security agency; Cho, who never knew his birth parents, fears that he might be found to have "bad blood." Mrs. Moon is an aged, arthritic peasant in far North Korea who finds a balloon containing South Korean Choco Pies; she sells the pies and becomes an entrepreneur. The lives of these people collide in a harrowing thriller that exposes an amazingly corrupt regime that embraces savage brutality and nearly every kind of lucrative criminal enterprise. John concludes with a fascinating 10-page bibliographic essay supporting his claims, but Star of the North would be a superior thriller even if it was pure fiction. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

John (Flight from Berlin) weaves a twisty tale about North Korea, the most secretive country on Earth. Readers follow three characters: Jenna, a CIA agent whose twin was abducted while on vacation in South Korea; Mrs. Moon, a North Korean peasant who enters the black market, hoping to make a better life for herself and her husband, with goods illegally obtained from an international aid balloon; and the high-ranking Colonel Cho, who learns about a career-destroying family secret that could mean death for him. From the luxuries of power to the back-door political dealings to the torturous realities of a concentration camp, these three seemingly disparate plots are deftly woven, leading to an ending that is at once breathtaking and bittersweet. VERDICT Conceived on the author's 2012 trip to North Korea, this well-researched, fast-paced, and pertinent thriller will keep readers' attention from start to finish. Readers of all sorts—whether spy fiction fans, thriller aficionados, or book junkies looking for a fantastic read—will enjoy.—Laura Hiatt, Fort Collins, CO Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This outstanding thriller from John (Flight from Berlin) brings to life the seldom-seen underbelly of North Korea, which the author visited in 2012. In 2010, Jenna (born Jee-min), an academic at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., joins the CIA in part to find her twin sister, Soo-min, whom North Korean commandos abducted off a South Korean island in 1998. Meanwhile, Cho Sang-ho, a lieutenant colonel in North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs who knows about Pyongyang's kidnapping program (and many of the country's other dark episodes), travels on a diplomatic mission to New York. There, at a reception at the 21 Club, he meets Jenna, who tells him about Soo-min. Cho is initially unhelpful, but in the end he agrees to assist Jenna in her quest to locate her sister. As an undercover CIA agent, Jenna goes to North Korea, where she poses as a translator for a U.N. peace mission while engaging in a dangerous search for her sister. John excels at drawing the everyday details of life in a closed society—the drug use of the lower classes, the paranoia and fear of those who have gained access to the upper ranks, the omnipotence of the Bowibu, the state security force. Those seeking a realistic, highly readable look at North Korea will be richly rewarded. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (May) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A propulsive and ambitious thriller about a woman trying to rescue her twin sister from captivity in North Korea, and the North Korean citizens with whom she forms an unlikely alliance Star of the North opens in 1988, when a Korean American teenager iskidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twenty-two years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her, and ends up on the radar of the CIA. When evidence that her sister may still be alive in North Korea comes to light, Jenna will do anything possible to rescue her--including undertaking a daring mission into the heart of the regime. Her story is masterfully braided together with two other narrative threads. In one, a North Korean peasant woman finds a forbidden international aid balloon and uses the valuables inside to launch a dangerously lucrative black-market business. In the other, a high-ranking North Korean official discovers, to his horror, that he may be descended from a traitor, a fact that could mean his death if it is revealed. As the novel progresses, these narrative strands converge and connect in surprising ways, ultimately building to an explosive and unforgettable climax"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"a thriller about North Korea"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

More than two decades after her twin is kidnapped by North Korean operatives, brilliant CIA employee Jenna obtains information that her sister may still be alive and undertakes a daring mission into the heart of the regime.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

More than two decades after her twin is kidnapped by North Korean operatives, brilliant CIA employee Jenna obtains information that her sister may still be alive and undertakes a daring mission into the heart of the regime, in a thriller that also traces the parallel stories of a peasant-turned-black-market businesswoman and a high-ranking official who discovers his traitorous heritage. By the author of Flight from Berlin.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

“A thrilling tale of abduction and escape in North Korea....highly entertaining." —The Washington PostA propulsive and ambitious thriller about a woman trying to rescue her twin sister from captivity in North Korea, and the North Korean citizens with whom she forms an unlikely allianceStar of the North opens in 1998, when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twelve years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her, and ends up on the radar of the CIA. When evidence that her sister may still be alive in North Korea comes to light, Jenna will do anything possible to rescue her--including undertaking a daring mission into the heart of the regime. Her story is masterfully braided together with two other narrative threads. In one, a North Korean peasant woman finds a forbidden international aid balloon and uses the valuables inside to launch a dangerously lucrative black-market business. In the other, a high-ranking North Korean official discovers, to his horror, that he may be descended from a traitor, a fact that could mean his death if it is revealed. As the novel progresses, these narrative strands converge and connect in surprising ways, ultimately building to an explosive and unforgettable climax.