Title: I’m Waiting For You (review copy)
Author: Kim Bo-Young
Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Humanity, Short Stories
Blurb from Goodreads
Two worlds, four stories, infinite possibilities
One of South Korea’s most treasured writers explores the driving forces of humanity—love, hope, creation, destruction, and the very meaning of existence—in two pairs of thematically interconnected stories.
In “I’m Waiting for You” and “On My Way,” an engaged couple coordinate their separate missions to distant corners of the galaxy to ensure they can arrive back on Earth simultaneously to make it down the aisle. But small incidents wreak havoc on space and time, driving their wedding date further away. In two separate yet linked stories, Kim Bo-Young cleverly demonstrates the idea love that is timeless and hope springs eternal, despite seemingly insurmountable challenges and the deepest despair.
In “The Prophet of Corruption” and “That One Life,” humanity is viewed through the eyes of its creators: godlike beings for which everything on Earth is an extension of their will. Exploring the dichotomy between the philosophical and the corporeal, Kim ponders the fate of free-will, as she considers the most basic of questions: who am I?
The blurb states “Two worlds, four stories, infinite possibilities” and it doesn’t disappoint. The book gives us four overall stories but stories 1 and 4 are connected to each other, as are stories 2 and 3.
It opens with “I’m Waiting For You”… and wow did my heart fully engage with this story. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it is. How much honesty of emotion and feeling lies within the words of this story.
It’s the tale of a love story through time. A man separated from his fiancée through space and time. He writes these beautiful letters to her. Letters he doesn’t know if she will receive. But no matter what he is waiting for her. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The desperation, the isolation, the unending love… the atmosphere painted by the author was truly beautiful. It was the most perfect short story that I have ever read.
The next story is significantly longer. It’s called “The Prophet of Corruption” and is divided into shorter sections.
This story admittedly I struggled with at times. At times it felt like I wasn’t smart enough to understand what I was reading; the ideas the story was exploring were philosophical in nature which is something that doesn’t come naturally to me, but I persisted. And that persistence paid off. The characters inhabited this ethereal place. Some where other than here. Possibly an afterlife of some kind where these god like beings debated existence and enlightenment. They used the world of the living as their school-cum-playground to aid this end goal of pure enlightenment.
At the end of the novel there is an author’s note and glossary that pertain to this story. Personally I would have loved these to be placed just before reading the story because I could have understood where the story was leading me a little bit more quickly and would have not experienced some of the confusion I felt during the earlier parts of this story.
Story three is connected to story two. It’s called “That One Life”.
I loved this. It was simple in its delivery but managed to evoke huge emotion and stirred much thought in me. To me it served as almost the perfect epilogue to story two.
Story four wraps things up and is called “On My Way to You”. It is the story of the fiancée from “I’m Waiting For You”.
Admittedly I was hesitant about reading this companion story because I loved “I’m Waiting For You” so very much… but it too was very beautiful and entirely engaging. Where the first story was about human isolation and surging through that, this one is all about surviving through persecution and therefore made for a perfect counterpoint.
I had never read anything by Kim Bo-Young before now but I am so pleased that NetGalley introduced her work to me. This was a collection of incredible speculative fiction with big ideas that were carefully peeled down to their innermost core. Definitely an author to keep an eye on in the future.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 15th April 2021, Harper Voyager