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This review is from: Decoded: A Novel (Hardcover)
Mai Jia’s Decoded is a complex thriller revolving around the shady world of cryptography during the tumultuous years leading up to the Cultural Revolution in China. Rong Jinzhen is a semi-autistic mathematical genius who is forcibly recruited into an elite code-breaking division of the army. He is assigned the task of cracking Code Purple and besting this notoriously difficult code leads to his elevation to Revolutionary Hero status before an even more complex code causes his world to come crashing down around him. The slow build-up to Rong Jinzhen’s story echoes the patience that he needs to crack complex codes and allows for Mai Jia to develop his characters as well as flesh-out the complicated backdrop of China in upheaval. Decoded is a clever spy thriller and a witty meditation on the past and present of China; it’s a gripping story and an excellent introduction to the work of Mai Jia.