#BookBeginnings The Orphan Master’s Son

Today we have The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!



The Orphan Master’s Son*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This novel is coming up next for the ongoing Bestseller Code 100 reading challenge.  It won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Summary:   The history and culture of North Korea are mysterious. Adam Johnson pulls back the curtain with this fictional work, delving deeply into the lives of leaders and regular citizens alike. It follows Pak Jun Do who eventually assumes the identity of Commander Ga, the husband of a famous actress named Sun Moon.

First Paragraph of The Orphan Master’s Son:

“Citizens, gather ’round your loudspeakers, for we bring important updates! In your kitchens, in your offices, on your factory floors — wherever your loudspeaker is located, turn up your volume!


The first things I noticed were the exclamation points because I just read an article in Publisher’s Weekly, “Danielle Steel Loves the Weather and Elmore Leonard Hates Exclamation Points: Literature by the Numbers” According to the article’s author, Leonard Elmore says, “You are allowed no more than two or three [exclamation points] per 100,000 words of prose.” Adam Johnson is reaching his limit in the first paragraph.

What do you think of exclamation points in novels? Do you agree with Elmore Leonard?

Have you read this book? If not, consider joining us next week as we continue with The Orphan Master’s Son.


  1. Laurel-Rain Snow

    Ha, I think Elmore Leonard’s “rule” seems a bit harsh. What makes him the expert? lol.

    The excerpt did pique my curiosity. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

  2. Sandra Nachlinger

    Who could stop reading after that opening? Not me! I’d be compelled to find out what the big announcement was.
    I tend to agree with Elmore Leonard. Some exclamation marks are okay, but I hate to see books that overuse them. I’d prefer that authors use active verbs and vivid description instead.
    My Friday post features The Pecan Man.

    • Roberta

      I agree. Active verbs do convey excitement better than exclamation points.

  3. I don’t think I’m quite as strict on Elmore Leonard but I’m more on his side. I think in a book too many exclamation points would annoy me. Sounds like a great article though! (1 exclamation point) I’m curious about the book. I’m interested in the history of North Korea but I think I’d prefer to start with nonfiction before reading a fictionalized account. Otherwise I think I’d drive myself crazy trying to figure out what is real and what isn’t! (2 exclamation points)

    • Roberta

      That’s exactly the problem. I have a running list of things to check to see if they are accurate or not. I’ll have to see what’s available in nonfiction.

  4. Karen

    I know I use way too many exclamation points. It’s crazy!!

    I need to get back to reading Orphan Master’s Son. I was determined to finish The Wilderness Warrior, so concentrated on that – at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! LOL

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