Bloody Seoul

Cinco Puntos. Jul. 2019. 224p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781947627208; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781947627215.
Gr 9 Up–Rocky’s an aspiring gangster living in Seoul. His father’s the creator and big boss of the Three Star Pa, a major gang that runs their city. Rocky’s reaped many benefits from his father’s role and has his own loyal gang prepping to take over as the next generation of the Three Star Pa. The novel follows Rocky through his meanderings, both literally and figuratively, as the story is told from his perspective and mostly within his own head. He spends a lot of time walking through his city and in and out of memories, many of which are about his childhood and his mother, who left when he was young. These memories begin to fold into his present and cause him to reevaluate his life. Rocky’s rough exterior hides a pain that runs deep. He hurts people while experiencing the same from his father. He is especially brutal to Ha-na, a student at his school, whom he tortures for pleasure until he fears it will break her. This book is not without violence including severe bullying, gang torture, and self-mutilation that may be difficult for some readers. Patel’s language is beautifully descriptive and filled with introspection, and she includes detailed, vivid accounts of the city’s landscape and food. This is a heartrending tale about the trauma and pain people carry and impose onto others.
VERDICT Readers who follow Rocky’s inner dialogue and forays through memory will be rewarded with an evocative read

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