Seoul Survivors (Naomi Foyle)

Seoul Survivors is a novel by Naomi Foyle.
Finished on: 11.4.2017

Sydney used to be an escort in Canada and now hopes to make the transition to modeling in Seoul. Her boyfriend Johnny is not a particularly nice guy, but his work for Korean-American scientist Kim Min Da may provide an opportunity for Sydney. The theme park Min Da is putting together certainly already proved a chance for Mee Hee who was smuggled there from North Korea. As Sydney gets more and more frustrated with Johnny’s possessiveness, she meets Damien, a young Brit who decided to risk it all for a new start in South Korea – because he really believes the rumors that there is a asteroid heading towards Earth, set to destroy large portions of it. And South Korea has better chances to survive the hit. As their lives intersect, nothing will stay the same.

Seoul Survivors is a gripping and quick read that I could barely put down. But even as I read it, basically while biting my nails, there were several things about it that did make me uncomfortable as well.

CN: Abuse, sexualized assault, rape, eugenics.

Seoul Survivors sounded weird and I liked the pun in the title, so I grabbed it without paying too much attention to what it actually was. If I had, I may not have bought it, simply because it’s a book by a Western author about mostly Western characters, using Seoul as an exotic background for the story. I’m suspicious about these kind of things, and the more I learn about racism, the more arguments can be made for my suspiciousness. Especially since the two Korean characters who get a bit more attention from the book – Mee Hee and Min Da – lack the shades of gray that Sydney and Damien are allowed.

Johnny is an absolute abuser and his relationship with Sydney definitely isn’t healthy. So far from it. Unfortunately, Foyle overdid it with his villification. Without anything good about him, I really couldn’t take him seriously as a character anymore, ultimately making him feel less like a threat than the story and his behavior demanded. And that his abusiveness is even kicked up a notch during the showdown and his (sexualized) assault, or actually rather rape, described in graphic detail really wasn’t necessary.

That being said and as I mentioned, the book is almost compulsively readable and touches on quite a few interesting topics that Foyle puts together very well. (Although I would have liked her to tackle the eugenics issues that permeate the book a little more directly.) I can see myself reading another of Foyle’s book, but I won’t go looking for it.

Summarizing: I’m conflicted about it, but ultimately it falls short for me.

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