Award-winning Korean author Kim’s first novel to be translated into English is a powerful portrayal of teenage angst, confusion, and the surmounting pressures on Korean teens to achieve. Her poignant and very detailed exploration of the complex and unstable emotions of adolescence will keep readers rapt until the end.
Sagwa does an excellent job of portraying mental illness without exaggeration or drama; it is an accurate, unsettling portrait ... A deeply disquieting account of mental illness, Mina is a novel about the tiny hints that, in retrospect, become the biggest clues to a person’s unraveling.
Kim Sagwa's English-language debut is both a difficult and complex read ... Throughout the novel Sagwa veers off on detailed critiques of South Korean society and while this might seem confusing or at least a distraction from the forward motion of the text, these mini-rants are essential in understanding the horrific violence that arises later in the novel ... While the narrative shifts tone in several places to give the reader a sharp critique of South Korean society, these shifts actually serve as counterpoint to the teen melodrama of Crystal's narrative. And while Sagwa’s use of long stretches of dialogue can be somewhat excessive, ultimately her strong characterization of these two troubled young women makes for a compelling and deeply disturbing read.