Top critical review
Good Topic, Annoying Chinese Phrases, Mediocre Writing
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 6, 2013
Disclaimer: I may be biased because I am Chinese, and I grew up in the Mainland and Taiwan. Mandarin is my first language.
The kidnapping/human trafficking topic is generally very interesting, especially for someone who has heard all kinds of real life stories about this growing up. It was a fast read, and the storyline made me want to follow through to the end to see how things play out. (Although unfortunately, people being kidnapped in China are usually faced with treatments much more gruesome and never find their way back)
However, the writing made me feel compelled to post my first ever book review on Amazon. I felt a twinge of annoyance every time the author tries to put in some sort of Chinese phrase in Pinyin. Furthermore, in most of these instances, the grammar was completely wrong. It seemed completely pointless to put phrases like "thank you", "please", "no", and "yes" in dialogues(80% of the time a Chinese phrase appeared, seriously). I can understand that the author is trying to make her work more authentic, but she could accomplish this through the storyline and descriptive writing(like Balsac and the Little Chinese Seamstress). Adding in incoherent Chinese phrases is overdoing this effort and damaging the reading experience. For readers who do not understand the language, it is pointless; for readers who understand Chinese, it is simply ridiculous.
The writing was also a little bland. I am not much of a writer myself, especially since English is not my first language. In fact, realizing that I could understand every word contributed to my belief that this could be better written. However, I have read enough English books that moved me with the authors' language. The lack of more sophisticated vocabulary is merely an insignificant factor. I can only compare this writing style to the few pages of Twilight I read before I had to put it down.
Overall, I felt like the story had a lot more potential. The story could have been so much more gripping, as other reviewers have pointed out. And once again, I believe that taking out the random Chinese phrases throughout the book would have made the dialogue sound much better (I'm sorry, but it bothered me so much. Imagine someone writing in Spanish, but every time they want to say thank you, no, or yes, they write it in English). I made it through the book really quickly as a slow reader because the storyline was captivating, and I honestly would have given this at least a 4 star if it weren't for the writing. Well, at least it was a really easy read for a slow reader like me who speaks English as a second language.