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Star of the North

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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  3,412 ratings  ·  626 reviews
A propulsive and ambitious thriller about a woman trying to rescue her twin sister from captivity in North Korea, and the North Korean citizens with whom she forms an unlikely alliance

Star of the North opens in 1998, when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twelve years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is st
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Hardcover, 402 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by Crown Publishing Group (NY) (first published May 3rd 2018)
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D.B. John I think so. Jenna's story will continue. And Mrs Moon's. They've been part of my life for so long now. I can't let them go just yet...
D.B. John I knew I wanted to write about North Korea when I saw that dramatic news from Pyongyang on December 19, 2011. At noon on that day, Ri Chung Hee, the…moreI knew I wanted to write about North Korea when I saw that dramatic news from Pyongyang on December 19, 2011. At noon on that day, Ri Chung Hee, the country's notorious news announcer, announced that Kim Jong-il had died while working on board his train. Before she had even speaking people were running into the streets in disbelief, crying and wailing and throwing themselves on the snow. It was as if they were under a spell. But I sensed that behind the tears there was fear. Everyone knew what punishment awaited those whose eyes were dry. I guess that's what made me take the plunge. Four months later I was in North Korea...(less)

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4.24  · 
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 ·  3,412 ratings  ·  626 reviews


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Maureen
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
*I was invited to read ‘Star of the North’ by the publisher, and have given an honest review in exchange*

For a leader of any dictatorship to be successful, I believe he must ensure that his people are isolated from any outside influences - which happens to describe the State of North Korea perfectly.

The storyline follows three threads, the first being American, Jenna, who's twin sister was abducted from a South Korean beach in 1998- years later she is still missing. Some believe that North Kore
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader by: Fran
5 big stars to Star of the North! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Where do I even start with this one. Yowza. So stinkin’ good. Thanks to my friend, Fran, for another stellar recommendation.

A thriller set in North and South Korea- talk about original! And timely! It is 1999 when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a beach in South Korea and taken to North Korea. Twelve years later, her twin, Jenna, is certain her sister is still alive and wants desperately to find answers.

There are other stories within thi
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Elyse Walters
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Something about this thriller is like no other.
It’s fresh - intellectually stimulating - knowledge expanding- at times infuriating - with tense atmosphere.
Written sensationally!

Fran
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The 65th Anniversary of the founding of the Worker's Party in North Korea is at hand. The date: October 10, 2010. Colonel Cho of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is overcome with emotion. People weep, cry, and cheer as Kim Jong-Il waves to the crowd. After all, Kim Jong-Il is their guiding light. North Korean news coverage shows the Dear Leader eating simple meals of potatoes in solidarity, and with understanding, of the people's plight. Author D.B. John, who visited North Korea in 2012, has writ ...more
Paromjit
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a complex, intelligent and intricate thriller that is unusual in its setting of North Korea, a state determined to remain isolated about which little is known, other than it is a dictatorship. DB John gives us three separate storylines that give us valuable insights into the workings of the country. In 1998, American Jenna's twin sister, Soo-min and her boyfriend were taken in South Korea. Years later, Jenna still desperately wants to know what happened to her, and enters North Korea as ...more
Debra
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Star of the North started strong with the kidnapping of a Korean American teenager and her boyfriend from a South Korean Beach. The reader will know that they have been kidnapped, their families do not. The year was 1998 and their families have been led to believe that the pair has either drowned or run away. Either way, they never returned home (their bodies were never found), and their families were left heartbroken and with questions that could not be answered.

Jenna, the twin sister of the mi
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Debra
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Star of the North started strong with the kidnapping of a Korean American teenager and her boyfriend from a South Korean Beach. The reader will know that they have been kidnapped, their families do not. The year was 1998 and their families have been led to believe that the pair has either drowned or run away. Either way, they never returned home (their bodies were never found), and their families were left heartbroken and with questions that could not be answered.

Jenna, the twin sister of the mi
...more
abby
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I don't read many spy thrillers. But I do have an inexpiable fascination with North Korea, which is what attracted me to this book. I wasn't disappointed.

Twelve years earlier, Jenna's identical twin sister, Soo-min, went to a South Korean beach and vanished into thin air. Presumed drowned, her loss destroyed Jenna and her parents. Despite being a renowned expert on the hermit kingdom, Jenna doesn't know about their program to kidnap young westerners via submarine and use them to breed mixed-race
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Lou
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
D.B. John, I salute you! This is a helluva read! North Korea is one of those countries I have always been fascinated by. Is it because it is such a closed-off country with a cray cray leader or another reason? I honestly have no clue. I would say, some of it must be due to what little information we have about what goes on there/what it is like to live there. "Star of the North", provides a little insight into the secretive state, within the fictional narrative.

The plot is a compelling one - Nor
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Helga
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, mystery
“You only have power over people as long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power—he's free again.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn


This is the story of journeys; a woman’s to find her sister and a man’s to find himself.
This is a story of endurance, heroism and love; of adversities and survivals; of forgiveness and compassion; of pure evil and darkness; of hope and slivers of light shining through, illuminating a harsh reality,
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Louise Wilson
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twenty two years later. Her twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her., and ends up on the radar of of the CIA.

There are three threads to this storyline:- 1) Jenna's search for her twin sister who has been missing for over twenty years. 2) Mre Moon who lives and works on a penal farm. 3) The North Korean official Cho, who seems to have a charmed life (you will have to read the book to find out how
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Dave
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Star of the North is a fictionalized account of a land where the truth is stranger than fiction, a land which is more like George Orwell’s 1984 than he could have ever imagined. It is at once a spy thriller but more so a peek into the inner places of the Hermit kingdom. Particularly shocking are the kidnappings by North Korea over decades of primarily South Koreans and Japanese, often young people on picnics or tourists captured in submarines for nefarious schemes such as brainwashing them into ...more
Ingrid
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A woman looking for her twin sister who seems to be abducted.
I'm very impressed with this book. There's so much information about North Korea. I was sure that a lot of the topics were made up by the author, but at the end of the book the author authenticates them. That's what shocked me most about the book, that it's all true.
It's also a great story to read.
Liz Barnsley
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely timely, authentic and really quite scary thriller with the unusual North Korean setting and some honest home truths about that regime that are utterly chilling, Star of the North is one of the best thrillers I've read in a long while.

I read open mouthed at some of the twists and turns in this one, only realising at the end (where the author handily tells us what is real and what is imagined in the scenario's playing out but don't read that until afterwards) just how truly strange North
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Chevy Stevens
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Brilliant.
Roman Clodia
A beach-read thriller with its silly moments and flat writing - but it's undoubtedly topical and the author has actually visited North Korea.

Don't expect sophistication in either politics or writing style (' Her knees were killing her', 'Hyesan...looked like the ass-end of nowhere' a Korean peasant supposedly thinks) and you have to laugh at the way our heroine goes from Georgetown academic to kick-ass superfighter in the blink of an eye. She also immediately spots things than none of the CIA e
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debra
I cannot rate this. I can say- DO NOT CHOOSE THE AUDIO VERSION !!!!!!!

The narrator UPTALKS throughout the entire book. This method of speaking destroyed any suspense, not to mention the disconnect of "They kicked him in the head(uptalk on head) and he fell unconscious? Yes, the listener is often treated to double "uptalks" in the same sentence! Some people? have no prob with uptalk?, but I am not one of them?

Larry David ? and many others? might do something creative? with this?, but it would pr
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Molly
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
STAR OF THE NORTH

Good story. Star of the North is about mixed race Korean twins Jenna and Soo-min who were separated through the abduction of Soo-min while she was visiting South Korea as a teenager. The book focuses on Jenna's attempt to see if she is still alive and find her.

What I found extremely interesting about Star of the North was the information I learned about life in North Korea, including details of their social and political systems, the extreme forced devotion to their leader Kim
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switterbug (Betsey)
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For a totalitarian dictator to successfully run a country and make himself a godlike figure to one and all, he necessarily must isolate it from the rest of the world. North Korea was such an abstract concept to me, until Adam Johnson’s masterpiece novel and Pulitzer winner, The Orphan Master's Son, in 2012. It shook me to my knees, and gave the elusive, corrupt leader, Kim Jong-il, and his subjects—the people of the country--real substance. Like Johnson, author D.B. John has visited North Korea ...more
michelle
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Star of the North is not my typical story that I read but, if you don’t know much about what happens in North Korea, this is the book for you.
Jenna Williams is a Professor in Foreign affairs and also a Korean/American with her Twin Soo -min. But her twin disappeared in 1998 in South Korea and Jenna has always wondered what happened to her. Also the CIA have recruited her to go on a mission in North Korea.
Mrs Moon has been living on prison farm and tries to earn some money by cooking her favourit
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Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
I so badly wanted to love this one! It was a really promising start, and I was genuinely hooked, but then I got to just over halfway and completely disengaged from the whole thing! Which is really annoying, because it was an intriguing premise. But it lost me somewhere around the middle, and I was done for by then! Still though, great plot and really topical, just lost my way with it!
Roy
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it
As well thought out and planned this novel was, I still couldn't get into it. The characters I felt were a little overly cliched. Especially Jenna when she goes through her CIA training. I like the 3 story plotthread, and I felt that worked really well. The writing I just felt wasnt as strong as the rest of the other elements. Interesting to see how much of this was based on facts. Such a relevant novel with whats happening in the world atm. Just one of those novels that didnt work for me.
♥ Jx PinkLady Reviews ♥
Overall this was an ok read for me. I must add however, that I read this story as part of a book club and most readers really liked it so it may be just me being grumpy.
11811 (Eleven)
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The North Korea angle in the book description caught my eye on this one. The author's talent and knowledge of NK make this thriller worth reading. I don't even like thrillers very much, but I'm glad I gave this a chance. Great story and insight into the hermit kingdom we will soon be bombing or doing business with.
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
I had previously heard great things about this novel and was very much looking forward to reading it. It is such a unique concept, set in the modern day and surrounding the mysterious country that is North Korea. I didn’t know a lot about NK going into the novel and although it is a fictional story, I felt I learned some of the obscure and frankly quite bizarre history of NK.

The novel opens on Baengnyeong Island in South Korea 1998. Young lovers Soo-Min and Jae-Hoon are enjoying a romantic trip
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SueLucie
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
An utterly entrancing thriller and so topical - who isn’t fascinated by the idea of North Korea? I was hooked from the astounding opening sequence and its hold on me didn’t let up until the end. The plot is intricate and well paced, provoking much speculation in my mind about the leadership’s motives and ambitions. I enjoyed the author’s afterword almost as much as the novel itself since it showed the depth of his research and how much of the action is based on fact. Really enjoyable (for the mo ...more
Jeanette
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If i could give more stars i would! I have always been interested in books where North Korea is concerned, so didn't pass up the opportunity to read and review this book when the Publisher kindly sent me an advanced copy. One of the best thrillers that i have read in a while and couldn't turn the pages fast enough. There is nothing really that I can add to this review that hasn't been said already. I can highly recommend 'Star of the North' and shall be re-reading this book again in the near fut ...more
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Epic thriller. I’ve not been this excited and enthralled with a thriller for a while. Not as brilliantly fascinating as this one. The setting is the most secretive regime in the world and this author has been there and crafted a stranger than fiction story which is as thrilling to read as I imagine it was to write. The level of research mentioned at the end of the book is quite something – hats off to the author in many ways!

As well as an explosive plot, complex c
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Pat
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-books, 2018
5 stars
For me, this is a favorite read for 2018.

The book description tells of the 3 storylines and how these storylines cross into each other. The part not described is the brilliance of the author to seamlessly have this happen. This is a fast-paced, page-turning, suspense novel that I could not wait to get back to reading. Highly recommend! And, the author provides a long afterword referencing where he discovered his information on North Korea.
Sarah
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book - review to come soon
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D. B. JOHN was born in Wales. He began training as a lawyer but switched to a career in publishing, editing popular children's books on history and science. In 2009 he moved to Berlin, Germany, to write his first novel, Flight from Berlin. A visit to North Korea in 2012 inspired Star of the North. He lives in Angel, London.
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