Justin's Reviews > The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian by Han Kang
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really liked it

Honestly, in this case, I'm much more interested in reading other people's reviews of the book rather than writing my own. I just feel like there are so many layers here, so many things that need to be discussed, so many unique interpretations, so many questions.

The first third of The Vegetarian is very Kafka-esque. It has a very Metamorphosis vibe to it. Maybe a little bit of Bird Box to give you a more contemporary example. It was dark. It was weird. It was bleak. It felt like every sentence belonged there. There wasn't any filler or fluff to bulk up the length. I was all in, too. I was waiting to solve the mystery and figure out what the heck was going on.

Then, the second act hits and I realized this book is something completely different than what I expected. I was mildly annoyed at the kind of abrasive shift away from what I wanted the book to be, but once I got over myself and continued to read, I loved the book for completely different reasons. I didn't even know why I liked it really. I kinda felt awkward at times, but then I got over myself again.

The third and final act doesn't answer a lot of questions. It actually leaves you with a lot of questions, but not about the story- more about deeper issues like what it is to be human, innocence, and violence. Nothing about not eating animals. Don't let the title fool you. The Vegetarian takes things to a much deeper level than if killing animals is wrong. I barely remember that being discussed.

Here's the best way I can break this down for you. Ever watched a good foreign film? You know how in a lot of foreign films there aren't millions of dollars invested into CGI and fhe actors and actresses look like real people? The movie is focused on the dialogue and the story rather than looking and sounding amazing. At the end, you feel something inside and you're thinking, man, I didn't know movies could be like this. I haven't seen anything like this before. That's how The Vegetarian is- translated into English from a South Korean author that doesn't look or feel like any book you've read before. You put it down and you're like, man, I didn't know books could be like this. I haven't read anything like this before.

Eat animals or don't. Whatever. But check this one out. It's under 200 pages. Spend a Sunday afternoon with it.
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Reading Progress

November 24, 2016 – Shelved
November 24, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
December 3, 2016 – Started Reading
December 4, 2016 –
page 64
33.33% "Very Kafka. Very good so far."
December 4, 2016 –
page 115
59.9% "Whoa................."
December 5, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

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Evelina | AvalinahsBooks So? Shocking - yay, nay? I bet you're typing up the review just now.

Justin Haha! Yeah just hit "Send" and saw your comment! The second part of the book could be considered "shocking" I guess, but I don't wanna give to much away. Nothing horrific or violent, but she does paint some pretty interesting pictures in the second section. That would make so much more sense if you've read it. ;)

LeAnne: GeezerMom Really well stated, Justin. I like your little mention of Bird Box relative to the first third of the story. It truly was a mystery as to what was going on with her and why.

I don't know if you read this or not, but the woman who translated the book only started reading Korean a short time before launching into the translation. She knew no other languages other than English but love literature and set out to learn a second language with the intention of translating foreign works into English. It took her two attempts to get it right, but boy did she!

Justin Wow! I did not know that, but she did an outstanding job!

Garden of Eden This book was supposed to be for my small local group discussion. I didn't attend it, though. I nearly took the vegetarian is just about vegetarian. Great review!

Justin Yeah it's a very small part of the story at the beginning. You should definitely try it out if you get another shot.

Elyse Walters I understand the feeling..,,,
"Harmless Like You".....
it's by a Japanese author ... different than this one - for sure- yet another very interesting read!!!

Justin Thanks! I will check it out!

cameron Amazing, tantalizing, mysterious, book. I understand completely your difficulty writing a review. I did too.

Justin I just read a review that said something like the book draws you in while you keep trying to look away. That's kind of how I felt...

Evelina | AvalinahsBooks Yours is the first review that makes me want to read this, actually.

Justin Go for it! Hope you love it!

message 13: by Erin (new) - rated it 2 stars

Erin This is in my queue to read and seeing your review of it made me that much more excited. I had the same feeling reading Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung-sook (another "foreign" book translated to English). That particular story was not a mystery per se but had an equal amount of layers in describing the characters' relationship between the mother and the children. I also closed the book feeling amazed by how much I enjoyed the book since I was new to that genre. Thanks for the great review and thank you for getting me so excited about reading The Vegetarian!

Justin Erin, glad I could help and I am going to look into the book you mentioned as well. Hope you enjoy The Vegetarian.

Marta Kule I read your review to my book club to convince them this is our March book. And it worked. :)

Justin Whoa! That is awesome! I hope you and the group enjoy it. It will definitely spark some discussion in the group.

message 17: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle Curie Can't wait to read this!

message 18: by Trish (new) - added it

Trish Now I am curious about "the 2nd part," the part that made you feel awkward. Hadn't realized it was such a small book. Will look at it now.

Justin Yep. Check it out. It just went in a really weird direction and I was outta my comfort zone for a little while.

Matthew I am still . . . hungover from this book? That might be a good way to describe it . . .

message 21: by Tom Swift (new)

Tom Swift Thanks for the review!

Justin Tylenol and water, Matthew. Get some rest. Haha. This one stuck around with me for s while too

message 23: by Kaleah (new) - added it

Kaleah This is a great review, and solidified my desire to dive into this book!

Justin Awesome, Kaleah! Hope you enjoy it!

Melumebelle I AGREE. I wasn't able to write a concise review of this book because I had no idea how to review it.

Justin Yeah this was definitely a tough one! I think I took some time to digest it before I was able to put my thoughts together. And now when I recommend it I do so with hesitancy because I don't know how people are going to take it.

Belinha Fernandes Good review! I am not into writing reviews because my English isn't good enough. But I agree with you, I liked what you wrote. For me, it's a sensual book in a sense that it impacts you with sensations you get from it. Characters are powerful and I kind of can feel them more than I can understand them. Not so much about not killing animals but more on the desire to be free from oppression, to be master of oneself and violence of normalization that society imposes on those who there to be different. I did not find it extraordinary but interesting and challenging!

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