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Seoul Survivors

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A meteor known as Lucifer’s Hammer is about to wreak destruction on the earth, and with the end of the world imminent, there is only one safe place to be.

In the mountains above Seoul, American-Korean bio-engineer Dr Kim Da Mi thinks she has found the perfect solution to save the human race. But her methods are strange and her business partner, Johnny Sandman, is not exactly the type of person anyone would want to mix with.

Drawn in by their smiles and pretty promises, Sydney – a Canadian model trying to escape an unhappy past – is an integral part of their scheme, until she realises that the quest for perfection comes at an impossible price.

Naomi Foyle was born in London, grew up in Hong Kong, Liverpool and Canada, and currently lives in Brighton. She spent three years in Korea, teaching English, writing travel journalism and acting in Korean television. She is a highly regarded poet and performer. Seoul Survivors is her first novel. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomifoyle

‘Naomi Foyle is well placed to bring the little-known complexities of Korea’s contemporary cultural scene to the foreground of her imaginative leap into our future’

Mia Yun, author of House of the Winds


Lisa McCurrach

https://twitter.com/EffingRainbow | http://overtheeffingrainbow.blogspot.co.uk/

April 5, 2013

All right. First off, Seoul Survivors, despite its ‘eco-apocalypse’ buzzwords, is not so much a story about a global disaster in itself as it is a story about how a certain small group of people choose to try to deal with it, in order to survive. It’s a character piece rooted in science fiction, rather than being the more typical science-fiction adventure that I was half-expecting. And, somewhat surprisingly perhaps, I found myself enjoying it all the more for this approach than I think I would have if it had been a straight-up “avert the catastrophe, save the world” drama. This book was a challenge to read, for several reasons – but at the end of it all it’s a challenge that I found personally rewarding. The paths that the protagonists set themselves on in order to secure their futures in the face of that aforementioned catastrophe are what shape the story – it’s about their journeys, and why they’re all doing what they do instead of why things are happening to them. That said, they are ultimately rats in a cage to Dr Kim, the mastermind behind the “salvation” they’re all seeking – though not all are equally as willing to jump through her hoops, because what’s a character drama without conflict? I loved this approach, and the author handles it with promising skill and style (Seoul Survivors is her debut novel). Their journeys are engaging enough that I found the book difficult to put down at times (another box, ticked!), and a large part of that is, I think, due to Ms Foyle’s incredibly vivid visual style. She paints Seoul in verbal pictures that practically leaped off the page and into my mind’s eye; it’s bold and colourful, and at times I felt like I could actually have been right there, on the streets on hot days or in the clubs on brightly-lit nights. The first chapter, for an example, introduces us to Sydney Travers as she’s working on a photoshoot for a famous Seoul fashion photographer, and I was immediately dropped right into that scene through its clarity, urgency and even with a sense of empathy for Sydney as she does what she does – which is evidently a lot more of a physical ordeal than non-models might realise! Obviously, the story is not all fun and games despite the newfound celebrity model status and lifestyle that Sydney finds and enjoys, at first. Johnny Sandman, the standout antagonist (Sydney’s ex-boyfriend, and Dr Kim’s eventual rival at ConGlam, the company funding her bioengineering project), is a loathsome character at the centre of a great deal of the more graphically violent scenes in the book. Fair warning – while the detail in these scenes is perhaps not as graphic as it could be, the content of them is still violent enough to be disturbing to a good many readers. To be fair to the author, however, it never quite crosses the line into gratuitous violence – there is the sense that we are shown what we’re shown because that’s just how disturbing (and disturbed) a character Johnny Sandman is, and this is how seriously he takes his grudge against the protagonists, however twisted and psychopathic it might be. Though it still bears emphasising that if you aren’t at ease with graphic physical or sexual violence, this book might be a difficult one to read all the way to the end. If you CAN make it to the end, however, then I hope you find the finale as powerful and affecting as I did. The author’s visual style never lets up – the almost cinematic quality of her writing stays consistent throughout, and I suspect that this played no small part in how moved I was by how things turned out for Sydney and Damien. This is no Hollywood-style, save-the-world-and-go-home-happy story – it’s realistic enough to give the edge and the advantage to the people with the power, and on this the author is uncompromising – when deals are made or promises given, you don’t get to back out without paying a cost. And everyone pays. So, in summary, this is definitely not one for the faint-hearted or the sentimental – but if you like your pre-apocalypse drama of the realistic and unquestionably adult variety, then I would recommend this book. Side note: there is an android. It is creepy as all hell. Because what sci-fi story is complete without a creepy android?

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