Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on May 22nd 2018
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Star of the North started strong with the kidnapping of a Korean American teenager and her boyfriend from a South Korean Beach. The reader will know that they have been kidnapped, their families do not. The year was 1998 and their families have been led to believe that the pair has either drowned or run away. Either way, they never returned home (their bodies were never found), and their families were left heartbroken and with questions that could not be answered.
Jenna, the twin sister of the missing girl has always wanted answers concerning her sister’s disappearance. Twelve years after her sister’s disappearance, she is recruited by the CIA and ultimately decides to take the opportunity to travel to North Korea on a mission. She has learned some disturbing news that North Korean has kidnapped individuals from beaches, could this have been the fate of her sister? Could her sister still be alive? Will she ever see her again? Will Jenna ever get answers?
Through the course of this book, two other interesting characters with their own story-lines come into play. Mrs. Moon quickly became my favorite character, lives in a penal colony and is quite the bad ass! She is smart, crafty, bold, and willing to take risks that others would not. One day she finds an international air balloon containing goods which she decides to hide and use to start her own business. Mrs. Moon is always thinking and always has something up her sleeve!
Lastly, there is Cho who is a North Korean high ranking official. There is some question about his family history which is not only concerning to him but to the North Korean government as well. He is a little stiff, cold and aloof in the beginning of the book. He has a job which he takes seriously and he seems to really believe in what he does for a living until…..
I loved how the story-lines of the three characters came together. The merging of story-lines occurred seamlessly. Although Mrs. Moon stole the show for me, I grew to admire and respect Cho for his inner strength and growth toward the end of the book. Each of the characters change and grow as the book progresses. Each one will have his/her tests and must cope with being in a country with rigid rules which could change on a dime and result in his/her death. All the characters in this book take risks which prove for some tense and suspenseful scenes.
This well written book shows oppression, suffering and a glimpse into the lives of those living in constant fear. I couldn’t help but appreciate to live where I live while reading this book. I’m sure other readers will as well. Although there is suffering and oppression in this book, there is also strength, hope compassion and humanity. This is a perfect book for book clubs as there is a lot to discuss in this book!
Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.