Book Review & Tour Stop – THE ORPHAN MASTER’S SON by Adam Johnson

Today Booklover Book Reviews has the great pleasure of kicking off the TLC Book Tour for Adam Johnson’s bestselling title The Orphan Master’s Son.

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson trade

The Orphan Master’s Son  Synopsis

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”

In this epic, critically acclaimed tour de force, Adam Johnson provides a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. (Amazon)


The New York Times has described The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson as “a daring and remarkable novel”. The New Republic goes one step further saying,

“Remarkable and heartbreaking . . . To [the] very short list of exceptional novels that also serve a humanitarian purpose The Orphan Master’s Son must now be added.”

Rarely can a title live up to such high praise but this one does just that.

I purchased my own copy of The Orphan Master’s Son after reading Nancy O’s review and was thoroughly engrossed listening to the audiobook when I received the invitation to be part of this book tour.

It is hard to say much about the characters and what happens to them in this novel without giving too much of the brilliance away, so I will focus on the effect the book had on me.

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson is one of the most intelligent and thought provoking novels I have read this year. I can say with certainty it will be on my Best Books of 2012 list.

Adam Johnson has managed to write a novel that exposes in an entertaining way the absurd while maintaining the deepest respect for the people involved. The reader is kept on the edge of their seat, on an emotional roller coaster – mixing hilarity with heartbreak, the disturbing with the uplifting. In The Orphan Master’s Son Adam Johnson shines a light on the best and worst of human nature.

Although the subject matter may be too shocking for some tastes, this is a novel that should be required reading. Why? Because it makes you question paradigms. Is information power or ignorance bliss?

“What happened?”, Buik asked him.

“I told her the truth about something,” Ga answered.

“You’ve got to stop doing that,” Buik said, “it’s bad for people’s health.”

The audiobook version of The Orphan Master’s Son narrated by a talented cast, the author himself along with Tim Kang, Josiah D Lee and James Kyson Lee, was a joy to listen to (here’s an audio sample). For me the timing and accents of the cast and matter of fact delivery of passages such as that quoted above really enhanced the story experience.

SubscribeIn this age where commercialism abounds, it is heartening to see such a meaningful piece of literature on the bestseller lists. I cannot recommend The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson more highly, it is truly moving.

BOOK RATING: The Story 5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5

Have you read The Orphan Master’s Son? Do you want to?

Join the discussion below.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Random House I have a paperback copy of this wonderful novel to giveaway – – ENTER NOW – – (US/Canadian mailing addresses only)

Be sure to check out the other tour stops on this TLC Book Tour.

BOOK DETAILS: The Orphan Master’s Son (Amazon); The Orphan Master’s Son (Audible); The Orphan Master’s Son (Kobobooks); The Orphan Master’s Son (TheNile – Aus)

Genre: Literature, Action-Adventure, Audio, Mystery, Thriller, Drama, Romance

Author Information: Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, Granta, and Playboy, as well as The Best American Short Stories. His other works include Emporium, a short-story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us. He lives in San Francisco.

– Read a very interesting interview Adam Johnson did with The Paris Review talking about his experience travelling to North Korea to research the novel

– Watch the The Orphan Master’s Son book trailer

Other reviews of The Orphan Master’s Son: The Guardian ; The Hungry Reader ; PopMatters ; Too Many Books Too Little Time ; Farm Lane Books

Related Content



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>