Welcome to another #TeenTuesdays Book Talk! This week: Bloody Seoul by Sonia Patel.
Rocky is loyal and is living a luxurious life. His father runs Three Star Pa, one of the most powerful gangs in South Korea, and he aspires to the next gang member in the family business - when he is old enough. Until then, he and his best friends have the run of the local high school, beating up local teen gangs and bullying Ha-Na, a half Indian, half Korean girl. Rocky and his friends are VIPs.
Rocky has many questions about his past: Why did his mother leave? Why was Younger Uncle banished? And why won't his dad let him in on gang stuff?
Rocky's dad always uses the phrase "an eye for an eye" when dealing with clients and drug deals. No more, no less. But when Rocky hears that his dad has gone farther than "an eye for an eye," he begins to question his dad's motives and his family's past. What really happened to his mom and uncle? Should he continue in his father's footsteps?
Callie's Opinion: I recommend. This is a departure from other YA, particularly if you like gangster films and k-dramas. The high school bullying is reminiscent of Boys Over Flowers - and yet again, like in my last review of We Set the Dark on Fire, the victim Ha-Na and bully Rocky have a change of heart and implied romance which makes me cringe. But for some reason, it makes more sense in this setting (as k-dramas sometimes have this strange bully/victim romance trope). Some gang scenes are descriptively violent or frightening, reminiscent of a Scorsese film. The author is a psychiatrist and touches on mental health issues: Rocky has OCD. Self-harm, suicide, and family abuse are also prominent. The South Korea setting is a refreshing departure from the ordinary.
Bloody Seoul is available on our shelves and on Hoopla!