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Taroko Gorge

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3.18  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  34 reviews
A disillusioned and raggedy American reporter
and his drunken photojournalist partner are the last
to see three Japanese schoolgirls who disappear
into Taroko Gorge, Taiwan’s largest national park.
The journalists—who are themselves suspects—
investigate the disappearance along with the girls’
homeroom teacher, their bickering classmates,
and a seasoned and wary Taiwanese
...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 6th 2009 by Unbridled Books
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Average rating 3.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  120 ratings  ·  34 reviews


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Elyse  Walters
Sep 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is another book I want to raise my rating...
I read this book years ago... I discovered this book and author on an independent book site - 'new authors' to watch...
The physical book's cover is absolutely gorgeous... I wish now, I had not given it away. Many times I've wanted
the book back ....
It's a creepy mystery thriller invoking 3 missing school girls...( creepy in the best of page turning ways)...
But what is still the standout for me is the location & history of where this story
...more
Christopher
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Jacob Ritari's debut novel is easy to explain in plot points: A bunch of junior high students travel to Taiwan's Taroko Gorge on a class trip together and are quickly overcome by horror as three girls go missing. Many narrators then deal with the unfolding events in their own ways, each questioning their own roles in leading the girls to their mysterious disappearance.

"'If they just made being alive less searingly painful...'"

This novel is primarily about making sense of an accident - an
...more
Brendan
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Well, I loved this book. What I loved:
1.) The central mystery of the book is solved in a satisfying way.
2.) Different characters narrate and each is credible, distinct from the others, and changed by the events of the novel.
3.) It's a page-turning mystery that's actually about a whole mess of interesting ideas.
4.) It's well-written and not written in a showoffy way. That is to say, Ritari's not out to impress us with the awesomeness of his prose stylings--he writes well enough to get out of the
...more
Jan Innes
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Taut and beautifully written thriller, set in Taiwan, about a class trip gone awry. Three schoolgirls go missing on the trip to Taroko Gorge National Park, and tension builds as classmates, their teacher, two American journalists and a police investigator search for them. The book unfolds in a series of shifting first-person accounts, given the reader a complex range of viewpoints on all the characters and their view of each other. A severe storm that interferes with the search further ...more
DH
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
Taroko Gorge is a wonderfully exquisite book that I never wanted to end. I didn’t want to emerge from the world Ritari created and leave Taroko Gorge and the characters in the book behind.

The disappearance of three Japanese schoolgirls during their senior class trip brings together a variety of characters under one roof as they try to solve the mystery. The story is narrated in first person from 4 very different viewpoints, which effectively reveals how people from different backgrounds and life
...more
Nancy Oakes
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
This is a 3.5 star rating, rounded up to 4.

I liked it, didn't love it, but for a first novel, it's pretty good.

While some people might argue with me on this point, while I was reading it, I couldn't help thinking about Joan Lindsey's most excellent book Picnic at Hanging Rock. Why? Because Lindsey's book, like Taroko Gorge, in part examined the psychological and emotional aftermath of those left behind after the disappearances of some schoolgirls on a field trip. Admittedly that's as far as the
...more
Jennifer
Jul 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
From my blog...[return][return]A mystery, cultural differences, religious differences, a delightful debate on Occam’s razor (spelled Ockam’s in the book), and humanity are just a few words to describe what comprises Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari. His debut novel is a beautifully written, insightful, and deeply philosophical look at life, through the eyes of an American Journalist, two Japanese students, and a Taiwanese Homicide Detective, without appearing on the surface to be too ...more
Marty
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ctmh-challenge
Set in the exotic location of Taiwan's Taroko Gorge, this mystery follows the efforts to find three Japanese junior high school girls who have disappeared during a school trip. The story is narrated by Peter Niels, a worn investigative reporter, two of the girls' classmates and the Taiwanese police detective assigned to the case. Threatened with a typhoon, all the players are forced to spend the night at the Gorge's visitors center. As the investigation progresses, the disappearance turns ...more
Fiore
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The kind of story which keeps me feeling uneasy for much of the way. Not knowing which narrative voice to trust. I like that when it comes to mysteries and having it be about the interactions of the characters and all their issues affecting the case made it a book I mowed right through.
Michelle
While much Taroko Gorge is about the disappearance of the girls, this is as much a novel about the individual narrators and their reliability, their motivations and their secrets. Told through the eyes of four narrators, the reader is left to fill in the blanks of their stories. It is as much a psychological story as it is a suspenseful mystery as the reader interprets the clues behind the disappearances, minuscule as they are.

The four narrators are each flawed but lend their own perspectives to
...more
Scott
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this. I've lived in Taiwan for 13+ years and Taroko Gorge is one of my favorite spots on the island. I typically don't take time to leave reviews because others are better

I was not disappointed by the setting at all. It is fun to read a book that refers to places where I've had meaningful memories with my family and friends: the coast road from Southern Taiwan to Taroko Gorge, the relief map and café in the visitor's center, etc.

I found the characters engaging and plausible.
...more
Bianca
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Though I know this is Jacob Ritari's first novel, I liked the way he used the shifting narrative techniques to let the readers inside each character's head. I like the way he incorporates the historical backgrounds, the rivalry, and the rich cultures of Taiwan and Japan, I don't particularly love this book because I felt that the story was awkward in some places and it felt akin to a typical shojo manga's storyline--class has a trip, disaster strikes, hope and haven is reached amidst the chaos ...more
Stephanie
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it
The exotic locale of the story made this a fun read and very quick read. The author excelled at revealing the resentments and the inner psyches of the Japanese and Taiwanese characters. I especially found the sentiment of it just too much trouble to be angry or fight with someone, very interesting.

I can't remember the phrase in the book, but I think one of the characters said something to the effect of, "Why take the insult at heart, a fight is too much trouble for me and it is too much trouble
...more
Marilyn
Decent first novel. A little too reminiscent of the classic Australian film "Picnic at Hanging Rock" with a similar atmospheric existentialism. Still, the setting in Taiwan's spectacular Taroko Gorge made it different (I had to look up pictures of the gorge - amazing!) The author uses a lot of Japanese which didn't bother me too much but would, in my opinion, interfer with the story for anyone who doesn't know the language.
Xarah
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I found this book both interesting and sad. Interesting in the mysterious disappearance of the three girls and the conflicting emotions and interactions of the other characters with themselves and each other. The book was also sad in the sense of how the characters are dealing with the situation and coming to terms with it.
Timothy Urges
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The mystery was awful, but the truth was worse."

Really enjoyed this. Three schoolgirls go missing at a national park and people start to unwind. The writing isn't perfect but I like Ritari's style. The focus is on the characters, their circumstances, problems, and desires. The mystery was fulfilling and concluded well. I will definitely read more of Jacob Ritari's work.
Red
Jun 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
The mystery of the missing. Unfamiliar surroundings. A pressurized brew of anxiety, fear, suspicion. Deft use of multiple narrators. It all makes for a satisfying read.

Disclosure: I won my copy of this book in a giveaway.
Ambrose Miles
Apr 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Actually two and a half stars. Would have been better if the author could actually know the mind set of Japanese junior high school students. Possibly even better if he knew the mind set of the Japanese! Maybe better still if he had been Japanese and in junior high school.
Mary Ahlgren
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved this book from start to finish. I went to Taroko Gorge as a child, for vacations. It is as mysterious, steep, wild, and ethereal as the author describes, but where his really shows his stuff is in his characters. They are SO well drawn.
Linden
Jun 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Story of the disappearance of three Japanese schoolgirls at Taroko Gorge in Taiwan. Told from the point of view of several observers.
Lavelle
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I read this because I have been to Taroko Gorge but the setting is almost irrevelant. It's an interesting story about people, relationships, consequences and cultural differences.
Corinne
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the opening of the book, but started to get lost once the Japanese students got introduced and found it difficult to keep the characters straight. A great first novel.
Rob Kitchin
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Taroko Gorge focuses on the unfolding drama of three Japanese school girls going missing in a Taiwanese national park. The last two people to see them are a disillusioned American journalist and his drunken photographer. Their class mates did not see them slip away or have no idea as to where they were headed. As night falls, a local police inspector who is wary of the involvement of Americans and Japanese visitors arrives. Unable to search in the dark, the Americans, the teacher and four school ...more
John Benson
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Having visited Taroko Gorge in this past month, I felt that I knew the setting of this book well, but I found myself disappointed in the characters and dialog of this murder mystery set in Taiwan. Three Japanese school girls go missing in the park. The search for them is told through the voices of 4 or 5 different people--several of their Japanese classmates, a Taiwanese detective, and an American journalist. It was hard to form connections to the people in the story with so many bringing out ...more
Laurie
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I don’t know what I think of this book. It was creepy and dark and pretty depressing. It was not at all a standard mystery. I did enjoy the writing and characters.
P.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fictive
a more bro-y picnic at hanging rock except there's not really a mystery and is told from several points of view
Wendy
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: asia-taiwan
Americans journalist and drunk photographer take a tour of Taroko Gorge. Taiwan. There they meet a class full of Japanese School kids on their last trip before they all leave for different high schools. Their encounter is brief and uneventful.
Soon after interacting with 3 wandering Japanese girls, they go missing. Soon everyone at the Gorge are affected. The reader hears the class teenager angst of secrets, wants, dreams, fears and desires. The Journalist, Photographer, Class Chaperone, Taiwan
...more
Cara Ball
Jul 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-fiction, 2014
Interesting story line. Two Americans (reporter and photographer) have a couple of days off from the gig in Taiwan so they decide to do some sight seeing at the famous Taroko Gorge. A group of Japanese students are also there as their end-of-year-trip before going to high school. The Americans are the last ones to see three of the students before they disappear, leaving only their shoes and socks. What happened? Accident or foul play?

Written like a mystery with each chapter narrated by a
...more
Tammy
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was just OK, and was going to give it 2 stars, but there was something about the writing that I liked enough to push it to 3 stars. I enjoy plot-driven books a lot, and the plot was kind of slow on this one; however, the voices of the characters were quite interesting. The story of 3 Japanese high school students going missing in Taroko Gorge (in Taiwan) was told from alternating POVs of their friends, an American journalist/tourist, and a Taiwanese police officer. I'm no ...more
Lucia P
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Taroko Gorge" by Jacob Ritari was a great read. It's about 3 Japanese school girls who goes missing in their school trip in Taroko Gorge, a national park in Taiwan. The story follows narrations from different people and shows each of their different suspicions. I like how it had the point of views of some of the students, the detective and the american photojournalist. Even though there were different point of views, none of them really knew what happened fully. With that you begin suspecting ...more
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