Seoul, 1978. At South Korea s top university, the nation s best and brightest compete to join the professional elite of an authoritarian regime. Success could lead to a life of rarefied privilege and wealth; failure means being left irrevocably behind.
For childhood friends Jisun and Namin, the stakes couldn t be more different. Jisun, the daughter of a powerful business mogul, grew up on a mountainside estate with lush gardens and a dedicated chauffeur. Namin s parents run a tented food cart from dawn to curfew; her sister works in a shoe factory. Now Jisun wants as little to do with her father s world as possible, abandoning her schoolwork in favor of the underground activist movement, while Namin studies tirelessly in the service of one goal: to launch herself and her family out of poverty.
But everything changes when Jisun and Namin meet an ambitious, charming student named Sunam, whose need to please his family has led him to a prestigious club: the Circle. Under the influence of his mentor, Juno, a manipulative social climber, Sunam becomes entangled with both women, as they all make choices that will change their lives forever.
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Random House
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Literary Fiction
** I received an advanced readers copy from Random House in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**
This book centred around three college aged people living in South Korea in 1978. Jisun never wanted for anything and came from wealth but had no interest in it. She was wrapped up in the political underground. Her best friend Namin came from a family that worked hard but struggled for everything they had. Their hopes and dreams were lying on Namin's shoulders to get the education that would get them above poverty. Lastly there was Sunam, a college boy that lacked ambition but craved prestige.
I have to say that I enjoyed getting to know a little about the history of South Korea. I was not very familiar with the area and its history. However, I found it really slow to take off. It took me longer than I would have liked to become really interested in the story and what was going on. It slowly gained momentum as I continued to turn the pages and at about the half way mark I was finally invested in the story.
My biggest struggle with the story were the characters. I wasn't overly fond of any of them and I strongly disliked Sunam. He was lazy and whiny and made every situation about himself even when it wasn't. he had no ambition or motivation and was generally selfish. In fact, I found all of the characters selfish but in different ways and for different reasons. Because of this, I really didn't care very much where the story went with them and what happened to them. The romance between Sunam and Namin was dull and lacked depth.
Even though I wasn't fond of any of the characters I still wanted to know how it played out. It was the setting and culture that was kept me turning the pages. Unfortunately I found the ending to be anti-climatic and it really let me down. I wanted to like this book way more than I did. It wasn't that I hated it, I just found it a little on the sleepy side with characters that I didn't really care about.
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