Human Acts: A Review

Human Acts
by: Han Kang

Hello everyone!

I first want to let you all know what I am currently reading before jumping into this review as I have shifted my weekly goals slightly. I am currently reading Caraval by: Stephanie Garber, and American Gods by: Neil Gaiman both of which I am absolutely loving and cannot wait to finish and review for you all! Now on to the review:

Photo Cred: Me!
I read Human Acts for the #Diverseathon, and in the beginning I was underwhelmed by the character growth that was occurring as the reader does not follow one character throughout the whole novel. Because of the disconnected characters this book wound up feeling more like a short story collection or a string of vignettes, while this is not bad it just was not truly what I was expecting. This story follows a few different characters that are living in South Korea during the time of the student uprisings, the main focus is Dong-Ho who was killed in the uprising, each and every other perspective in this story has some small connection to Dong-Ho and his family. While this book lacks cohesive character development and I was unable to connect to any of the characters, it makes up for that in the way it speaks about censorship and violence as a means of protest. 

I read this book shortly after Trump took office here in the United States during the time of countless protests, through the planning of the women's march even. I must first comment on the fact that I commend all of those who had the courage to stand and protest in response to recent events. However reading this book during such times of distrust and fear allowed its messages to hit home even harder than they would have if I picked this up sooner. The protests in this novel are violent and quite gruesome, if that is something that offends you I would not recommend this book to you. However if you are able to get past the graphic nature of this novel you will find a thought provoking novel which speaks as must about times of unrest in Korea, but also about the times we are in right now for the western world. 

The themes tackled in this novel are brilliant, dealing with hard hitting topics such as death, censorship, trust, love, and compassion all in just over 200 pages. The two themes that resonated most with me include censorship, and civil unrest. Again the United States in recent months has seen the downward spiral that can only mean one thing, positive change will cease to exist for four years. This has many people in this nation fearing for loved ones and the future, this is not the America that many of us want to see and through predominantly peaceful rallies we have spoken our mind as the students in this book believed they were doing as well. I just hope that this book can be our warning to avoid violent protesting to get the changes that we want, it does not work for these children so why would it work for us? Again I could go on but the topic of civil unrest is all throughout our world right now and this book provides a new outlook on the topic. The topic of censorship hits home as well with Trump's recent claim that the media is "fake news". His attempts to squish anything that opposes him scares me, the dangers of that are seen in this novel discussing censorship and how it has happened in Korea is a warning to us all that it cannot work for us. 

Needless to say, what this book lacked in character growth and connection it made up for in the topical issues it is speaking about given the current political situation. This book is a combination of Korean history, political activism, and hope for the world to latch onto. I urge you all to pick this book up soon to heed the warnings that lie within this book while we all must face.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I am sorry if any of the opinions above offend anyone, however they are my own and incorporate how I interpreted this novel which is crucial to my rating. 

Happy Reading!


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