Book Reviews of When We Were Orphans

When We Were Orphans
When We Were Orphans
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
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ISBN-13: 9780375724404
ISBN-10: 0375724400
Pages: 352
Rating:
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 83

3.3 stars, based on 83 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

23 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 526 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
England, 1930s. Christopher Banks has become the country's most celebrated detective, his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime has always haunted him: the mysterious disappearance of his parents in Old Shanghai when he was a small boy. Now, as the world lurches towards total war, Banks realizes that the time has come for him to return to the city of his childhood and at last solve the mystery - that only by doing so will the world be saved from the approaching catastrophe.

Moving between London and Shanghai of the inter-war years, When We Were Orphans is a story of remembrance, deception and the longing for home; of a childhood vision of the world surviving deep into adulthood, indelibly shaping and distorting a person's life.

reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I found this book very odd, not bad odd, but odd. I could never decide if I liked the main character or not. At times he seems sympathetic and at times not at all.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Intriguing story, interesting details of old Shanghai. Very odd ending,not sure what to think.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 277 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Ishiguro's sytle is so old-fashioned and lovely that you picture a much older novelist, as well as one that has lived through this era (WW II). This novel moves slowly but is intriguing in every way. It is a very satisfying read and one that will stay with you.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on
Helpful Score: 1
Is what happened in our childhood really what happened? Are our parents and other adults in our childhood really who we imagined them to be? And what does one make of a life's work when memory fails and the truth emerges in unexpected ways? These are the questions that face Ishiguro's protagonist Christopher Banks, a celebrated London detective, when he returns to Shanghai in the 1930's to solve the crime of his parents' kidnappings over twenty years prior, which happened when he was ten years old.

The story is winding, but not slow. The characters are complex, but Ishiguro makes them so with subtle images and few words, so the reader is not bogged down in tedious details or dialogue. The plot has many interesting turns at the end so one ends up with a curious feeling at the end much as Mr. Banks does, each of us wondering what might have been.

This is a good mystery for those of us who don't particularly like mysteries, but rather savor a tale well told with characters who possess heart and soul.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Kazuo Ishiguro is, I think, an amazing storyteller. The main character and the mystery behind his activities held my interest as a reader and made me anxious to continue reading. I will say, however, that I thought the main character got a bit foolish toward the end of the book and I couldn't quite fathom how or why he would become so. Still, well worth reading.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Intense story. Against the backdrop of pending war, an orphaned detective returns to Shanghai from England to try to find his parents. Sometimes, we can get so involved in our quest that we lose contact with common sense.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 67 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Novel based on disappearance of protagonists's parents in Japan when he was young. He travels to Japan to find out the truth about them, and does, and wishes he hadn't.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I found this book to be very intriguing -- a real "page turner" (if one can say that about an audio book). Not a happy story at all, but full of rich detail about life in Saigon around the time of the Japanese invasion. Recommend highly.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 22 more book reviews
Interesting; imaginative.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 86 more book reviews
Shallow main character. Improbable plot, but very well written.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 20 more book reviews
My first Ishiguro read was NEVER LET ME GO and then REMAINS OF THE DAY followed by THE UNCONSOLED then ARTIST OF THE FLOATING WORLD. Then this wonderful work of art. I enjoyed it very much. Having studied psychology for a few years, I believe that I very much understand why Christopher Banks life after his parents' abduction was most unusual to some readers that have thusly commented. It is not nonsensical - the novel nor if this were real life situation.
Indeed this novel is quite a bit different from his others - I feel that each of his books are stand alone treasures. And though Kazuo Ishiguro tells us clearly in interviews and elsewhere that any writings of China and to large degree areas of Japan and pre/post wars are not to be taken as historically accurate, I have found in them glimpses of parts of the world and historical periods information that otherwise I could not have fathomed. As to different opium wars and the Western world's desire to profit at the expense of entire Eastern cultures decimation I find to be heartbreaking though accurate and most comparable to U.S. horrible 'war on drugs' in their very own country and also where they carry it to worldwide. How heartbreaking.
But I have very much digressed. What an enjoyable read. Certainly easy to gather how Ishiguro is so famed and how he is so acclaimed deservedly. 5 Stars IMO.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 386 more book reviews
This is the most nonsensical book I've read in years. While the writing style is mature, the plot could have been laid out by a ten-year-old, or perhaps someone influenced by the opium mentioned in the book. The narration continually referred to events that were not described in the book, then things go on as though we understand what's happening. Banks is supposed to be this world-famous detective, but we never actually witness him doing anything remotely intelligent. The only detective act we see him doing involves finding a house he thinks his parents were held in 20 years ago - and he believes that both his parents are still sitting in this house, waiting to be rescued. Who kidnaps adults, puts them in a house, then feeds them for 20 years? He's ready to storm this house with only a severely wounded soldier by his side, even though the soldier can't stand up without help. Finally someone says, "Well, you've been working on this case long enough, I'll just tell you what happened. You don't have to find it out for yourself after all." We're led to believe that his parents are so important that everyone - ambassadors, Chinese police, polititians - will drop everything to help him solve the case, and once the parents are found, it will help end the war. Why? His dad was a businessman, not a diplomat. I kept waiting for everything to tie together at the end, and it doesn't. No explanation why a guy he hardly knows from school brought him to his old house, why the guys who own the house will simply hand it over to him, or what happens to the house after all. No explanation why his mother didn't simply go to the British consolate and ask for safe passage home. (That would have solved the entire book.) No sequence of events between finding the truth (if it was the truth) and finding his mother. Just isolated events happening for no reason and with no logic, until things simply end.
reviewed When We Were Orphans on + 87 more book reviews
a novel by the great Ishiguro