Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari

Title: Taroko Gorge
Author: Jacob Ritari
ISBN: 9781936071654
Publisher: Unbridled Books, 2010
Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Genre: Thrillers
Rating: B
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!]


  1. This book is now in my Book Depository Wish List for my next book-buying spree. My Not-So-Bebe Girl is very much into Japanese culture, including music, books, and decor. This sounds like a book that she would LOVE!

    Thanks for the review!

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

  2. Too bad this book didn't fulfill the promise of its wonderful setting and intriguing concept.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book, Cathy. I have it here, purchased it from Unbridled Books. I don't think I've ever read a book set in Taiwan and I was very interested in your video yesterday. I worked with a lady who spent the early part of her life in Taiwan, so I will mention it to her today when I go volunteeer at the library. I'm excited to read it and see what I think.

  4. I've been wanting to read this one and your review though cautious made me want to read it even more. Thank you!

  5. See, I loved this novel and was not at all disappointed. But I didn't read it as if it were a mystery book.

  6. Jewelknits-- You're welcome. I hope your daughter enjoys the book!

    Barbara-- It came close, though!

    Kay-- I look forward to your thoughts.

    Kathy-- So do I!

    Ryan-- You're very welcome!

    Beth-- You obviously read it the correct way! :)


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