Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari
Title: Taroko Gorge
Author: Jacob Ritari
Publisher: Unbridled Books, 2010
Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Source: Won in Glue contest.
First Line: I was fourteen when I stopped believing in God.
This debut novel written by a 22-year-old author shows great promise. The book is set in a national park in Taiwan where two American journalists between assignments and a group of Japanese teenagers on a school trip become trapped when three of the students go missing and a cyclone shuts the park down.
The narrow gorge and the storm give the book a claustrophobic feel. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, and it doesn't take long for the reader to wonder which of the narrators are reliable. Between doubting the characters' reliability and feeling closed in by the towering walls of the gorge and the curtains of rain, it's almost like being in the midst of a country house mystery.
The setting is well done and the varying points of view interesting-- those of the students so good that I can see this book also appealing to a younger audience. The one character I felt was under-utilized was the old Taiwanese homicide detective, Chao. I think Chao would make an interesting main character for a mystery series.
Although I did enjoy the characters and the setting, I felt that the book was a bit uneven. Everything at the beginning ratcheted up the suspense as to what happened to the three girls and which character was responsible. However, the cyclone then appeared and shut down both the park and the suspense. When all was said and done, the big reveal at the end was disappointing.
However... Jacob Ritari shows a boatload of potential, and I can't wait to read his second book!
[If you're as interested in setting as I am, I posted a short video about Taroko Gorge in Taiwan. Feel free to take a look!]
My Book Rating Scale:
A+...Don't delay, get your hands on a copy of this book!
A...I loved it!
B...I really liked it.
C...I liked it, with a few reservations.
D...I finished it, but it's not my cup of tea.
- Phoenix, Arizona, United States
- Hi! I'm addicted to books (especially crime fiction), laughter and traveling off the beaten path. In my free time, when my eyes aren't glued to the printed page, one of them is usually pressed against the viewfinder of my camera. Let's see... books, laughter, travel, photography. Anything else? Oh yeah-- my dream house wouldn't have a kitchen!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.