The Plotters, by Un-Su Kim

I am a big fan of the John Wick movies. They're stylish, they're fast-paced, and the violence is so over-the-top it is essentially meaningless. It's like a ballet about a bloodbath. Sadly (for my movie-watching plans, not for the rest of my life), I have a one-year-old baby, so my chances of seeing John Wick 3 are pretty remote right now, but the fine people at Doubleday sent me a copy of Un-Su Kim's The Plotters, which checks a lot of the same boxes.

Set in an alternate version of modern-day Seoul, discreet assassins' guilds are relied upon to solve all sorts of problems. Kim's central character is an assassin named Reseng. After years of jaded apathy, Reseng suddenly shows a flash of morality (and personality) on a job. This moment changes everything, and finds him stumbling out of his flat existence into a messy tangle of other people's plots.

Kim's story moves somewhat jerkily between the grubby logistics of an assassin's day-to-day life (the troubles of body disposal, for example) and a somewhat dreamlike, darkly humorous exploration of power and morality. I wish the author had committed fully to one tone or the other, but both are inherently interesting, and the result is just as enjoyable as my beloved John Wick series—hyper-stylized, slightly fantastical, and clever enough to lean into its own ridiculousness.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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