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Paperback Taroko Gorge Book

ISBN: 1936071657

ISBN13: 9781936071654

Taroko Gorge

A disillusioned and raggedy American reporter and his drunken photojournalist partner are the last to see three Japanese schoolgirls who disappear into Taroko Gorge, Taiwan's largest national park.... This description may be from another edition of this product.


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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A very promising debut!

This debut novel written by a 22-year-old author shows great promise. The book is set in a national park in Taiwan where two American journalists between assignments and a group of Japanese teenagers on a school trip become trapped when three of the students go missing and a cyclone shuts the park down. The narrow gorge and the storm give the book a claustrophobic feel. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, and it doesn't take long for the reader to wonder which of the narrators are reliable. Between doubting the characters' reliability and feeling closed in by the towering walls of the gorge and the curtains of rain, it's almost like being in the midst of a country house mystery. The setting is well done and the varying points of view interesting-- those of the students so good that I can see this book also appealing to a younger audience. The one character I felt was under-utilized was the old Taiwanese homicide detective, Chao. I think Chao would make an interesting main character for a mystery series. Although I did enjoy the characters and the setting, I felt that the book was a bit uneven. Everything at the beginning ratcheted up the suspense as to what happened to the three girls and which character was responsible. However, the cyclone then appeared and shut down both the park and the suspense. When all was said and done, the big reveal at the end was disappointing. However... Jacob Ritari shows a boatload of potential, and I can't wait to read his second book!

"Why should I be so shaken up? Somehow I had never seen a person die in front of me, but I had know

(3.5 stars) Forty-six-year-old journalist Peter Niels is touring Taiwan, a country he thoroughly enjoys, when he and his photographer, Josh Pickett, have a day free from professional responsibilities. Deciding to visit the famous Taroko Gorge, they become involved in a strange disappearance. A group of ninth grade Japanese students has come to Taroko for an end-of-the year class trip, and three of them go missing shortly after Niels and Pickett have seen them. Author Jacob Ritari alternates his points of view from Peter Niels to Michiko Kamakuri, one of the schoolgirls on the trip who decided not to go exploring on her own; Tohru Maruyama, the ninth grade Class Representative with whom several of the girls are "in love"; and Detective Hsien Chao, the stodgy Taiwanese policeman called in to investigate the disappearances. The chaperone of the Japanese trip, Mr. Tanaka, is under great pressure to find the girls and ensure a happy ending. When a typhoon hits Taiwan before the girls have been found, the tension increases exponentially. Everyone suddenly begins to see everyone else in a new light, and the hidden resentments among the various groups--Taiwanese, Japanese, and Americans--begin to be revealed. Taiwanese Det. Hsien Chao admits he hates the Japanese and does not like Americans. Chaperone Tanaka finds the Taiwanese lazy. While all the adults are dealing with the missing students and their own personal issues, some of the young students left at the campsite are exploring the world of love and sex, and at this point, it may be difficult for some readers not to be reminded of the plots of Young Adult fiction. Throughout the emergency, spiritual portents and religious references emerge. A monk from the nearby Buddhist temple appears and offers help, Neils hears a mysterious voice, and the ghost of one of the missing students appears. A mixture of commentary from Catholicism, Buddhism, and other New Age religions adds some spiritual significance to the participants' inner searches. Told in clean and simple prose, the novel emphasizes plot and the effects of the disappearances on individual characters, though there are few complexities and surprises. The resolution comes naturally from the plot and ties up the loose ends without any major surprises. Since the majority of characters are about fourteen, the complexity in their lives revolves primarily around puberty, their ability to deal with the pressures of their competitive school lives, and their fear for their missing friends, and though the characters are Japanese, Taiwanese, and American, the different cultural values and behaviors are far less important here and have far less impact on character than what one might expect or hope for in a novel with this setting. Mary Whipple

Where did they go?

Jacob Ritari's debut novel, "Taroko Gorge," offers a new take on the classic whodunit mystery. In the classic manner, Ritari has placed his murder victims and their likely killer in a self-contained setting, one from which no one is likely to have come or gone unseen. The setting is Taiwan's Taroko Gorge, a tourist attraction within one of that island-country's national parks. When three Japanese students (fifteen-year-old girls) who are in Taiwan on a school trip suddenly disappear, the number of suspects is rather limited - and the finger-pointing soon begins. Among those at the park center to visit the spectacular gorge, are a middle-aged American reporter and his photographer, a young man who copes with the disappearance of the girls by getting drunk - and staying that way for most of the book. Other possible suspects include a busload of Japanese students, their teacher/trip guide, and employees of the park itself. When the local police, led by a tough old sergeant, arrive, however, it seems that the Americans draw most of his attention. When the girls are not found by the end of the day, the Americans, along with four of the students and their teacher, volunteer to remain in the park office overnight to help the police in the search planned for early the next morning. Ritari tells his story through the first person accounts of several different narrators, including reporter Peter Neils, the police sergeant, the class student leader, and a student who sees one of the missing girls as her romantic rival for the potential affections of several of the boys in the class. As would be expected, based on how different the speakers are, their narratives are uneven in content and reliability. Each person knows something the others do not and most seem to have a legitimate reason for feeling guilty about the disappearance of the missing girls. "Taroko Gorge" is long on atmosphere and character, especially when an unexpected storm drenches the park with a blinding rain that lasts for hours, again delaying the search for the girls. Jacob Ritari seems to know Japan and Taiwan well and, by getting inside the heads of his various characters, he reveals much about cultural differences and similarities. Interestingly, each group (Taiwanese, Japanese, and American) seems to struggle a bit with its own prejudices and inherent distrust of the other groups - but in a way, each group admires the others. Ritari does seem to struggle a bit when he tries to speak as a 15-year-old Japanese girl but, perhaps, this is more a reflection of the empty-headed character he has created than it is of the author's writing. He certainly fares much better with the voices of the Taiwanese police sergeant, the American reporter, and the young Japanese class leader. This is an interesting first novel and Jacob Ritari has placed himself on my map as a young writer I will be watching for more from in the future. Rated at: 3.5

Psychodrama Taken to New Heights

Jacob Ritari delves deep into human nature and focuses on emotional interaction during a crisis for his debut novel Taroko Gorge. While Taroko Gorge does revolve around the disappearance of three Japanese schoolgirls, I am loath to call this a detective novel as it focuses more on the characters feelings and interaction than on the search. I also found the use of telling the story through multiple first person views, through the eyes of several of the main characters, very effective in heightening the tension felt throughout the story. The author's bio says he's lived in both Taiwan and Japan and it shows through these multiple points of view. Each character brings a unique cultural perspective to the narrative, a perspective that at times accentuates the difference between peoples and at other times shows how we are all really the same. The best examples of this are the various interplays between the Japanese students. The teen girls are obsessed with the teen boys and the teen boys are obsessed with the teen girls, yet neither side really knows how to deal with the other. At the same time, the teen obsession has a different character to it than if these were American teens. The main characters have a lot of depth to them, so much so that we are introduced to some of the demons lurking in their past. This is what makes the psychological drama so believable: we are given insights into the characters' motivations. Through these revelations, the reader will develop a lot of empathy for the people they meet. If you are tired of the same recycled plots in most detective stories these days, give Taroko Gorge a try. If you enjoy exotic locales, this novel may leave a little to be desired as it focuses on people, not location. Highly suggested for fans of psychodrama and character driven stories. Four and a half stars out of five!

Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari

Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari American journalist Peter Neils and his photographer companion Pickett are on assignment in Taiwan. With a few days rest for themselves the two decide to make a trip to Taroko Gorge and go sightseeing. Taroko Gorge is formed by lovely trees, cliffs, huge rocks, and is bordered by the sea, and age old temples. Also arriving is a bus load of Japanese students on a field trip. All is fine until three female students become missing. After a short time authorities from Taiwan are called in to help find the girls. This is where the beautiful setting of Taroko Gorge quickly becomes a menacing environment. As the investigation begins all cultures are forced to work together to decipher the mystery. The tragedy becomes compelling when the reader is slowly lowered into a vat of deceit, lies, and decadence. Jacob Ritari is exceptional at putting the reader in a calm lull, and slowly transforming it into a feeling of uncomfortable isolation. The biggest accomplishment of Jacob is the way he communicates the story. Each chapter is told through the eyes of a handful of different characters in the book. The reader gets to know the personalities, beliefs, and view points first hand. Good or bad, it is an obligation to stand in the shoes of those directly involved in this thriller. The imagination, creativity, and the fresh approach of Jacobs writing style is something that no one should miss.
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