I know I mentioned in my post New Reads, that I was going to complete a book review for The Vegetarian by Han Kang, but my grandma recommended a book for me to read when we popped over for dinner the other week. I was sceptical at first – Her bookshelves are filled with numerous classics and biographies, whilst mine is filled with thrillers, sci-fi and the occasional romance book. So to say our tastes vary is a slight understatement. But I went into reading this with an open mind and damn, did this book surpass my expectations and has easily wedged its way to one of my favourites. I’ll try not to include spoilers.
Pachinko follows a Korean family from father Hoonie in the late 19th century, to his great grandchildren, throughout the 20th century. The story covers life before both wars, life in Asia during, and the post war events in great detail.
I’ve read a lot of reviews on Goodreads about this book and I find the majority of what was disliked (if any) are things I actually enjoyed. I loved the fact that you followed a family from the onset to the end. We could see how certain circumstances, maybe death or the birth of another, affected character development. We tracked how each character grew and could see their individual struggles.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this book is that depending on where you are born deciphers what strand of history you learn; being born and raised in the UK, we learnt more about the European aspects of the wars, with only a 2 minutes discussion about other continents involved. I know if you take history as further education, you may cover this but it’s not something everyone is exposed to unless you study this in your own time. For me it was eye opening, learning about events that happened within the same timeline of something I have studied on countless occasions just reminds you how big the world actually is.
I know there was a 50/50 split regarding the time jumps after chapters to cover the story across the period selected, but I can understand why this was done. We know, from personal experiences, that grief in the immediate space after something has happened is difficult for many. But it’s about the lasting consequences as well; how has someone’s personality changed 5 years, maybe 10 years after an event; how has it changed them.
One of the notable things that I disliked about the book, although I can see why it was done, was the ending. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but it gave me Sopranos vibes. That is if a book could cut to black mid scene.
Although I do like most of the characters in the book for various reasons, I’d have to say my favourite is Mosazu. There was just something about him that I really enjoyed. I love the fact he wasn’t blinded by a dream that was unattainable; he was very much a down to earth character and had a big heart. I feel like I resembled him a lot when he was younger – dropping out of school and finding a job that he really enjoyed and was good at.
Least favourite character
This wasn’t a tough choice, but my least favourite was Noa. I won’t say much as I feel his story was a main thread throughout the book and should be explored by everyone with fresh eyes, but some of the thoughts his character would have, some of the things he said and did were quite toxic. I know there is probably a consensus on other characters we are subconsciously drawn to dislike, through plot and description, and Noa probably isn’t one of them but for me every time I’d try to connect with his character and explore his perspective, he would do something that left me feeling more frustrated with him rather than sympathetic.
Would I recommend
I would definitely recommend this book to any one interested in broadening their genre pool and anyone interested history based novels. I really enjoyed this book and have told many people already to give it a try and let me know what they think.
And finished! For my first ever book review that wasn’t for educational purposes, and one that I have actually completed, I’m proud of myself. I will try my hand again at some point – It’s in my To-Do schedule drawn up. Thank you for reading 🙂