By Samantha Pak
Northwest Asian Weekly
Real Dangerous Girl
By Kim Oh
Editions Herodiade, 2013
As a teen and young adult, Kim Oh has worked hard, keeping her nose to the grindstone. Never mind that her boss McIntyre is one of the most corrupt men – if not the most – in Los Angeles, who has no compunction hiring a hit man to get rid of his business competition.
As McIntyre’s bookkeeper, Kim has been the one to cut the checks for the hit man in question, a slightly psychotic man named Cole.
But when McIntyre decides to go legit with his business dealings, both Kim and Cole each find themselves out of a job. Kim is desperate for money to support herself and her younger brother. Cole is now crippled after a bullet meant to kill him didn’t quite do the job. The two team up – at Kim’s insistence – to seek revenge on their former employer.
While Kim starts out as a timid, naïve young woman, who still has some faith in humanity (despite who her boss and his associates are), she quickly grows up when she finds herself in a tight spot. Instead of wallowing and pitying herself for her bad luck, she decides to do something about it. And even though her response to the situation is probably more violent than recommended, the fact that she is taking her life and destiny into her own hands is quite admirable.
Kim is a strong and resourceful young woman who – when pushed to her limits – rises to the challenges that come her way.
Despite her turn to violence, she does not lose her heart and does her best to protect her brother. And while she is determined to kill her boss, readers will see her regret harming those who get in her way.
The first in a series that follows Kim as she becomes entrenched in Los Angeles’ seedy underbelly, “Real Dangerous Girl” will have readers anxious for Kim’s next adventure.
By David Adams
David Adams, 2013
In 2029, planet Earth is attacked by an alien nation with no explanation except for a message, “Never again attempt to develop this kind of technology.” Fifty million people die worldwide and humanity comes together to try and defeat their extraterrestrial enemies.
Chinese Naval Captain Melissa Liao is given command of one of three warships built to fight the aliens, the TFR Beijing.
As Liao, her crew, and the other members aboard the other warships set off in space to find and destroy their enemies, it becomes clear that they are in over their heads. The aliens’ technology is far more advanced than the humans’ technology. But this does not stop them from trying.
While “Lacuna” is the story of people coming together to fight an unknown enemy, it is also a story about humanity and what we can achieve when we put aside our differences. The crews aboard the warships are from all over the world, with different backgrounds, yet they are able to work as a team toward a common goal. This is not to say they don’t see their fair share of infighting and arguing. But they are able to put aside those issues when the time requires them to – a lesson present-day humanity could learn.
This was my first foray into science fiction and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Adams is able to balance the more scientific and technical side of things with a story about people. He gives readers epic space battles, as well as the drama that comes with a group of people confined together on ship, with nowhere to go.
The characters in “Lacuna” are well developed and multi-faceted. Each has their own quirks and idiosyncrasies that make them who they are.
As the first in a series, readers will not be able to put down “Lacuna.” Once it’s all over, they’ll be wanting to know what Liao and her crew will be facing next, as they fight to protect their home planet.
By Natsuo Kirino
Living in the suburbs of Tokyo, life for Yayoi is a bit on the mundane side. A mother of two with a philandering gambler of a husband, her day-to-day life leaves much to be desired. Things get shaken up when in a fit of rage, she strangles her husband and kills him.
Not knowing what else to do, she turns to her friend Masako, who she works with at a factory, producing boxed lunches. Masako agrees to help Yayoi by disposing of the body, eventually recruiting Yoshie and Kunio, two other women they work with at the factory.
Once the women get rid of the body, their problems really begin. In addition to their guilt and trying to keep everything a secret, the women must deal with police investigations, loan sharks, blackmail, a wrongly accused man hell-bent on revenge, and more.
On top of that, each woman has her own personal drama. From Masako’s alienation from her husband and son, to Kuniko sinking in a sea of debt, to Yoshie taking care of her petulant and spoiled teenaged daughter and bed-ridden mother-law, to Yayoi doing her best to paint the picture of the innocent wife, the four women must call upon their inner strength. Some are more successful than others.
And just as people in the real world are their own individual selves, Kirino does a great job of differentiating her characters from each other with their individual strengths, weaknesses, and quirks.
“Out” is a dark, plot-driven story that will have readers turning page after page as they try to see what will happen next. The story is told from various characters’ perspectives and while we see into their minds and learn what they are thinking and feeling, they are so well developed and complex that it’s hard to predict what they will do next. (end)
Samantha Pak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.