Friday, June 27, 2014


Key. Genius and insanity can go hand in hand. Mai Jia’s novel, Decoded, presents readers with a fascinating protagonist, Rong Jinzhen, a genius at math. Once his talents are recognized, he’s taken from his family and placed in a special unit of cryptographers. Jia captures the psychological components of Jinzhen’s situation, and structures the novel to require readers to search for ways to figure out this interesting person and his predicament. Every code seems to require a key, and Jinzhen cracks most codes swiftly, almost effortlessly. There are dreams to reckon with and adversaries who may be friends, and friends who may be adversaries. I suggest reading an excerpt before leaping into this novel. Perhaps there were translation challenges, or cultural signposts I missed, but I found the odd structure more off putting than challenging. Rating: Three-star (It’s ok) Click here to purchase Decoded from

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