This was sometimes a difficult read for me, since I don't typically care for novels with shifting timelines and disjointed stories. Added to that were quite a few uncomfortable scenes of unreasoning or casual violence, and situations that brought home the overwhelming difficulty of daily life in North Korea. But there was also much to like: this is an amazingly inventive and revealing story, partly based on the author's travels in the country. The characters are deeply complex, as convoluted as the plot, and it seems to be the case that no one, no situation, is exactly as it seems. It's sometimes farcical and funny, but most often tragic. On the strength of the characters and the glimpses into North Korea's almost unfathomable society, I ended up liking this book quite a lot.