Review: Ocean's Godori by Elaine U. Chu

Ocean’s Godori by Elaine U. Chu

Jen reviews Ocean’s Godori, Elaine U. Chu‘s debut standalone Sci-Fi novel.

An eARC was received by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Ocean’s Godori is set to be published by Zando – Hillman Grad Books on April 23, 2024!

About the Book
Series:standalone
Genre:Sci-Fi
Publisher:Zando – Hillman Grad Books
Date of Publishing:April 22, 2024
Trigger Warnings:Violence, death, racism
Page count:368
Book Blurb
Ocean's Godori by Elaine U. Cho

Ocean Yoon has never felt like much of a Korean, even if she is descended from a long line of haenyeo, Jeju Island’s beloved female divers. She’s also persona non grata at the Alliance, Korea’s solar system-dominating space agency, since a mission went awry and she earned a reputation for being a little too quick with her gun.

When her best friend, Teo, second son of the Anand Tech empire, is framed for murdering his family, Ocean and her misfit crewmates are pushed to the forefront of a high-stakes ideological conflict. But dodging bullets and winning space chases may be the easiest part of what comes next.

A thrilling adventure across the solar that delivers hyperkinetic action sequences and irresistible will-they-won’t-they romance alongside its nuanced exploration of colonialism and capitalism, Ocean’s Godori ultimately asks: What do we owe our past? How do we navigate our present while honoring the complicated facets of our identity? What can our future hold?

Quote of the Book
Quote Background

He cusses and yells, “Hold on, everyone!”

Ocean grits her teeth and the ship dives. She darts forward into a nearby forest and the ship’s belly clips the treetops. It shudders and she steadily brings it up. 84. She dips it down into the forest again.

“Do you know what discreet means?” one of the Seonbi yells.

*content subject to change at publication

Song of the Book

Freeze by Kygo

I had a hard time with this one. I had originally chosen Bound by Key but the lyrics weren’t right even if the sound was. I ran across this song by going through every dance track I could think of…. not a genre that I listen to so I got very lucky when the algorithm gave me something in between.

This is a very pretty (and long) song about wanting to hold onto those moments with our loved ones. I thought it kind of suited the book and the themes of losses and regrets etc enough to run with it. Plus the EDM sounding bits feel futuristic and K-popish at the same time. Honestly, I was just grasping at this point for something that worked. 🙂

Review

Ocean’s Godori takes place in a future world where South Korea is a dominating power with its Alliance (space exploration and military type of power) at the forefront. Ocean Yoon, one of the Alliances best pilots is spending her career on a low-class ship doing small jobs and mostly staying out of trouble until a longtime friend is in need of her help.


The simplified version of the plot is that Teo Anand playboy heir to the Anand Empire is framed for murder, and his good friend Ocean, steps up to the plate to help him out. The complicated version involves politics, eco-terrorists, and some crazy face-stealing tech!

On the whole, the plot sounds rather light when you write it out like that. And in some ways, it is because Ocean’s Godori seems more like jumping off place to begin a series than it feels like a complete story.

Which was fine (depending on your expectations) because while the main plot progresses and ends on a bit of a cliffie, it was the relationships building throughout that kept it interesting and had me quickly flipping the pages.

So, if you’re looking for sci-fi action, you’re going to get a little of that but it’s the relationships that are the driving force of this tale.

The cast is likeable and varied and I liked that they could be as selfish at times, as they could be generous. Most of the events revolve around three key players (Ocean, Haven, and Teo) with the rest moving in and out of focus as needed. Later we have a few new faces added, that will likely be key in the next book and add some fun dynamics.

It did take me a few chapters to settle in due to the largish cast and the setting-things-up, but it all gets a lot easier as the focus narrows to the crew of the Ohneul and we get to know everyone and the world they live in a little better.

While I was expecting this to be more sci-fi/pulpy leaning, I ended up being pleasantly surprised that there was a little more to it than just shoot ‘em up action. (That title gave me the idea this was going to be a heist story – probably word association on my part because of Ocean’s in the title, and knowing Godori is a strategic card game.)

I really enjoyed the relationships building between the characters – the bonding over family expectations, food, and even their losses and raw grief. I especially appreciate when an author can produce choke-you-up moments of grief, over characters we haven’t even had a chance to get to know outside of the people speaking about them.

Ocean’s Godori has a strong relationship story at its core but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in action. There were plenty of exciting action sequences, and some very cool fights; especially the face-off with the baddies – I loved that moment of slow-motion focus feeling to that fight! The end sequence goes from 0 to 60 in a heartbeat and when Ocean finally gets to show us her stuff, I was ready for her to bring it on!

Other Notes

  • If you’re a Korean drama fan you’re going to enjoy this one! Ocean’s Godori is like a book version of a K-drama! It has a lot of those tropes you’ll find in dramas- the chaebol’s family conglomerates doing wrong things, strong women, strong friendships, etc. it’s just a lot of fun in that regard!
  • The cover is fabulous! Sci-fi pulpy but the style/colouring/cherry blossoms remind me of a muted version of the backs of the Godori cards (which I have only ever seen in dramas so YMMV but I am assuming it was intentional considering the title.)
  • There were a ton of little tidbits of South Korean culture that my numerous years of drama/movie watching allowed me to enjoy on my own but if you’re unfamiliar with the terms etc. there is a handy dandy (and quite funny) glossary at the back.
Our Judgement
Let Their Deeds Be Noted - 4 Crowns

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