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The Master Hacker
When SunHee Nham, a disaffected North Korean computer scientist working in China, decides to escape her conscription, she takes a few secrets with her. Her dream of living in freedom in the U.S. begins to prey on her mind when she thinks about the hardships under which her fellow countrymen are forced to live. After a chance meeting with John Darque, the head of a covert organization charged with maintaining the balance of power in the world, the two form a partnership to destroy a weapon system she developed for use against Western nations. When she becomes aware of pursuing Chinese agents, she knows her freedom will be short lived. To make matters worse, she realizes her association with Darque’s group will put it in danger of being exposed. SunHee’s noticeable depression changes for the better when Darque poses a plan to turn the tables on a group of rogue nations intent on using the technologies she developed to blackmail the rest of the world. She agrees to help Darque with his plan in the hope that the results will create the spark of change needed to better the lives of her countrymen. However, with change comes sacrifice, and sometimes the price of sacrifice can be very high.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.50 out of 10


Plot: Burkart crafts a compelling, far-reaching novel concerning diplomatic world relations, military intelligence, and modern warfare. The author deftly explores notions of loyalty to country and ethical technology.

Prose/Style: The prose is crisp and descriptive, with unexpected details and phrasings. Substantial, realistically rendered dialogue carries the narrative forward.

Originality: This book is original in many aspects--notably, its focus on a North Korean woman who is a computer genius in a country that doesn't respect women. The story raises compelling questions about  the world political climate and sacrifices made in the name of world peace.

Character Development: Many of the characters are strong and clearly developed. As they are completing clandestine work, they do not always disclose their individual personalities, remaining closely guarded. The most successfully developed are SunHee Nham and John Darque, both conflicted and complex, while also just and idealistic.

Date Submitted: August 08, 2019