Paula Stokes returns to the world of Vicarious in this sequel, a high-action psychological thriller with a protagonist out for vengeance.
When Winter Kim finds out that her sister is dead and that she has a brother she never knew about, only two things matter―finding what’s left of her family and killing the man who destroyed her life. Her mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up.
Things get increasingly dangerous once Winter arrives in Seoul. Aided by her friends Jesse and Sebastian, Winter attempts to infiltrate an international corporation to get close to her target, a nefarious businessman named Kyung. But keeping her last remaining loved ones out of the line of fire proves difficult, and when all seems to be lost, Winter must face one last devastating decision: is revenge worth sacrificing everything for? Or can she find a spark of hope in the darkness that threatens to engulf her?
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
I love Paula Stokes’ writing. That’s a given. Overall, I’d recommend Ferocious. It’s a great diverse thriller about home, family, and mental illness. The world-building is rich and, most of the time, the plot is well-paced. Speaking of the plot, if you’ve thought up to this point that she can’t write huge plot twists, think again. Ferocious is definitely the most surprising of Paula’s books that I’ve read, and it was really cool to see her story come together. As with all of Paula’s books, the writing is engaging and well thought-out. For those of you who are rooting for Jesse and Winter, don’t worry ;) they get a good handful of their own scenes.
But here’s the real discussion that I have about this story. I’ll attempt to keep it as short as possible.
Giving beta feedback on Ferocious was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a blogger, not because the writing was bad (it wasn’t) or the characters weren’t likeable (they were), but because the image of Koreans and Korea that I saw in the story are vastly different from the Koreans and Korea that I know. In short, it forced me to see an entirely different view of the Korean experience and diaspora, much like Min Jin Lee’s novels.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that I’m a Korean-American, and for the entirety of my blogging career, I’ve had a pretty great relationship with the very talented author Paula Stokes. A few years ago, Paula approached me about beta-reading for her Vicarious series, and I was thrilled to do so.
Vicarious was one of the first books about Koreans in YA that I actually liked. At the time, I was in awe of the research that Paula poured into her writing, and she managed to tear down even my preconceptions about non-#ownvoices authors.
In Ferocious, the characters return to Korea, specifically a part of Seoul known as Itaewon, which is much less conservative than the majority of Korea. When I first read the beta, I didn’t like the fact that Winter seemed whitewashed to me. I won’t go into the details because the vast majority of these issues were resolved in the ARC version, and I ended up enjoying the story much more, especially because I knew what I was getting into.
But in the beginning, I had to think a lot about the idea that the Korean experience is so different, everywhere. I had a different time reconciling the LGBT aspects to the story. Before reading Ferocious, I’d only just heard briefly of Itaewon and couldn’t imagine groups of everyday people living in Korea being able to be openly say that they’re LGBT like in the U.S. It surprised me, and I wanted to see if it was true or not. Regardless of personal beliefs in terms of the issue, I reconsidered my image of culture and people.
Part of the issue that I’ve had with the diversity movement recently is that it isn’t complete yet. I support it, but I support it because I know what it’s like to read in a YA world that is lacking. There’s so much that I want to learn about peoples and places, especially when it comes to Koreans, and even though Ferocious was a difficult read for me, I was very thankful to it for that.
3 stars. (Don’t let the star rating fool you. If this one looks interesting, don’t hesitate to pick it up!)