Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
For those of you coming in late I haven’t been enjoying this book thus far. From the odd chapter breaks to the rather unlikable Americans the only time the book has been interesting is when we spent time in Korea or Japan. That’s where the good stuff is going on.
I decided that at least 11 pages would make a decent length for the review, and more often than not this is has ended up being Chapters By Chapters, plural instead of singular. Today we only have 2 chapters but they total around 12 pages.
- Chapter 43: Tuesday, 11:45 PM, KCIA Headquarters: seven pages, if you count six rows as a page
- Chapter 44: Tuesday, 10:00 AM, Washington, DC: five pages
Okay, let’s get this over with.
It’s a meeting of the Kims, and probably not our last since Eyepatch’s name is also Kim. It’s Kim Hwan and our lone lady Kim, the piano player spy for the North Kim Chong. I’ll be using their last names (I’m not sure if Koreans or Chinese use the family name first like the Japanese do but this is when writers didn’t know or assumed the audience didn’t and put the family name last like the West does), Hwan and Chong. This chapter has Hwan interrogating Chong, convincing her that he doesn’t think the North is behind the bombing and that the two will work together. He can figure out she’s a civilian operative and would want to keep the peace. We learn how the KCIA monitors spies and tries to break their code, and that one of the members of this ring was even ordered to attend the event to get an idea of what the South’s citizenry thinks about unification, another signal to Hwan that something is up. Chong agrees to help him find out if the supplies used in the bombing (like the boots) were stolen and to take her to meet his friends. At this point I really hope Chong isn’t secretly one of Eyepatch’s sympathizers playing all sides on this one because we already know Eyepatch wants to lead Hwan into a trap that will convince him the North is pulling a fast one and start the war.
Back in DC our shorter chapter serves two purposes, to give Laurence more backstory than we need and for Paul to finally check in on his son in person. I’m not sure how old Alexander is and I don’t remember if the book ever said so far but between playing Mortal Kombat and reading Supreme (given what I know about Image Comics, Alan Moore, and Rob Liefeld) I’m kind of siding with his mother here. I don’t care if Hood grew up with EC Comics or not, we’re talking rather brutal stuff here. Surely there’s a better comic and I know there are less gory fighting games. I wonder if the author actually looked up the comic or just grabbed a name at random he heard from some comic fan he knows or something? No wonder this kid keeps getting worked up.
The bit about Lawrence, which Paul is thinking about on the elevator to Alexander’s room, is more unnecessary backstory, but I think it does set the book slightly into an alternate future like many of the Tom Clancy games. Lawrence apparently partly privatized NASA so push the space program forward without Congress having to push for more funds. I guess this is the legacy Lawrence wants and he’s not so good at international politics but is one heck of a salesman. Of course he also has allowed, as Paul puts it, fiefdoms within his administration who are constantly vying for power, which explains the way Op-Center is set-up. They even have potential power struggles within their own ranks, never mind the other bureaus. I’m happy that he’s pushing on the space program in a universe without Space-X and we had a nice moment we’re told about with a wheelchair-bound man getting to play zero-g basketball but this whole backstory was pointless and really makes President Lawrence look worse instead of better given the situation.
So once again the good stuff is happening either in Korea or with Paul Hood directly. It’s an annoying trend that I’m expecting to continue next time. There’s only two chapters again next time but the sooner we reach eighty-eight and finish the book the happier I think I’ll be.