- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (May 20 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679463208
- ISBN-13: 978-0679463207
- Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3 x 24.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 612 g
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,562,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Dragon Bones: A Novel Hardcover – May 20 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
The controversial construction of a massive dam on the Yangzi River is the backdrop for the latest adventures of Liu Hulan, inspector in the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing, and her husband, American lawyer David Stark, familiar to readers of Flower Net and The Interior. Many years in construction, the Three Gorges Dam will benefit millions of people, but it will also bury untold archeological wealth. At the start of this complex, atmospheric thriller, Hulan is emotionally estranged from David after their young daughter's death from meningitis, for which she blames herself. Officially, she is scrutinizing a reactionary cult, the All-Patriotic Society, when she is sent to investigate the murder by drowning of a young American archeologist, a man who may have stolen ancient artifacts from the dam site. David accompanies her and they begin to repair their relationship, but the body count mounts and the sinister All-Patriotic Society leader, Xiao Da, rallies his followers against the dam. The tension reaches the breaking point at an auction in Hong Kong at which the most precious artifacts are offered for sale; soon after, Hulan and David are fighting for their lives in dark, slimy-walled caves alongside the Yangzi. The melodramatic conclusion has none of the elegance of the prologue, which casually but exquisitely notes the progress of the archeologist's decaying body along the river, through narrows and bays beyond the magnificent gorges. But See succeeds in widening the reader's knowledge about the politics and culture of contemporary China while racing along with an absorbing story.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In their third outing, which can be read independently of Flower Net (1998) and The Interior (1999, both HarperCollins), Inspector Liu Hulan of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and her American husband, attorney David Stark, are sent from Beijing to the Three Gorges Dam construction site. The plot involves searching for a written record of 5000 years of continuous civilization in China, an ancient myth, the smuggling and sale of valuable artifacts in Hong Kong, the murder of several members of an international crew of archaeologists, and the increasing popularity of a Falun-Gong-like cult, all set against the backdrop of the largest engineering project ever. Some actions in the last 50 pages call for suspension of disbelief, but up to that point this is another good read, especially for Sinophiles. There is one caveat: all of the Chinese speak with double meanings and are smart and crafty, while almost all of the Americans are portrayed as naive, obvious, stupid, or all three until the very end of the book.
Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Hulan has become a fully realized character in this novel. Author See does some things with her that she has not done before. For the first time there is a feistiness about her. She has certainly become more assertive in her role as an inspector. She remains the only female in a world of law enforcement dominated by men.
Hulan's sexuality also comes into play in "Dragon Bones." There is a sassiness about the way she carries herself around a certain male character. She is put in more than one situation where she must walk a fine line between remaining faithful to her husband or cheating on him.
In the end, Hulan is able to exorcise her demons. All of her issues get washed away by the Yangzi River. And like Andy Dufresne, she comes out clean on the other side. Hulan has reinvented herself and in so doing has returned to the character we first met in the opening pages of "Flower Net." The author could not have written a better ending. She has effectively set the stage for the next installment in this series.
Lisa See's storytelling, like her character development, has improved since "Flower Net." The plot is tight and well conceived. We are thrust into the story when the first dead body shows up in the opening sentence of the prologue, unlike her previous novels where we had to wait for several pages.
In conclusion, Lisa See has once again opened up a world that most of us will never experience first hand. She doesn't just take us to contemporary China, she takes us off the beaten path. Like the caverns that are so much a part of this story, the country is an organic entity. It is at times an antagonist, and even when it isn't, it is never neutral. I am fully captivated by it.
We are not just entertained in "Dragon Bones," we are educated as well. And isn't that what a good novel is supposed to do?
I am not usually a fan of thrillers. A decaying body floating miles and miles on the Yangzi River, with minute details as to its progressive decomposition and mutilation, doesn't strike one as an enticing way to lead readers into a book. But in this case, it is. Lisa See artfully uses the body's journey to introduce the complex web of geography, history, myth, religion, as well as national and international politics, art, economics-and terrorism--in which her characters move.
See's sleuths, as in two earlier books, are an intriguing married couple, Inspector Liu Hulan of the Ministry of Public Security, native of Beijing, educated in the United States, and Lawyer David Stark, whom Liu first met while both were in law school in the United States. They are convincing and attractive, although their survival in some of their perilous undertakings is almost beyond belief. We share in their sometimes troubled relationship with each other as well as in their battles against evil forces and people.
Not one murder, but several, it turns out. One might wish that the final and bloodiest murder had been performed off-stage.
With See's articulate, clear, and wonderfully descriptive writing style, Dragon Bones is well-paced and full of intrigue, making it a challenge to put down. Plot twists and murders constantly keep readers on their toes, demonstrating See's excellent skills as a storyteller.
One reason I've always enjoyed See's series is for the protagonists, David and Hulan. See has done a brilliant job creating in-depth, captivating characters with an interesting past. You can't help but care about them as they struggle to solve these crimes as well as mend their broken relationship. Sometimes we get a glimpse of David's perspective, while other times we get into Hulan's mind. This is one of my favorite aspects of See's writing--her ability to switch points of view subtly, yet so effectively. By getting into David's and Hulan's minds, it's evident that the two of them are meant for each other. But as the story progresses, readers will wonder if their relationship can survive after all the tragedies they have experienced. The answer is clear at the end of the novel.
Not only are some of the scenes extremely poignant, some are also very funny, particularly those involving the acerbic Pathologist Fong. And though this novel was entertaining, I also learned much, including Chinese culture, archaeology, and history of the Three Gorges Dam.
I would highly recommend this book!
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