I agree with the reviews here that criticize this book as lacking psychological insight into the protagonist, Shin. I don't see this as the author's fault, however. Rather, this inscrutability is the result of over two decades of life in a North Korean gulag, from birth until young adulthood. Shin is not so much guarded as he is emotionally stunted. We expect familiar thoughts and emotions from him that we shouldn't, as he was manipulated from birth to lack them. This is the fault of his cruel, evil North Korean captors, not Harden's.