I enjoyed this twisted little Japanese novel so much. It was full of so many shocks, twists and turns in only 240 pages that it’s got me itching to read more novels by Japanese authors.
The book, which won the ALA Alex Award this year, was originally published in 2008, and begins in second-person narration when a teacher, Yuko Moriguchi, addresses her class on the last day of term, which is also her last day of teaching as she’s resigning. The reason for her resignation is due to the death of her four-year-old daughter, Manami, and it’s not a spoiler to tell you that she holds several of the students present
responsible. I’m not going to go into any further detail about the plot because this is something you need to experience for yourself to fully appreciate. I’ll just say one thing, everything that transpires is truly messed-up and you won’t see it coming!
Each subsequent chapter is narrated by someone who was directly involved. These chapters are related in first-person with a mixture of past and present tense and are told in different formats e.g. journal entries, a letter etc. Differing opinions always helps to inform the reader of separate viewpoints and I think and this was a great choice here because of the array of subjects tackled e.g revenge, love, despair. It meant that the reader had all the information and could make an informed decision about the actions undertaken.
This book was so much more than just a twisted tale of revenge. The further along I went and the more that was revealed, the more I questioned and wondered about actions and their subsequent consequences. I think it’s a sign of a really great book when issues such as these are interwoven with such a brilliant plot. Issues were tackled at a steady pace, so there was never too much to deal with at once. This reflected the gravity of each issue or problem and gave the reader time to fully absorb and think about them.
The only reason that I haven’t marked this higher is that it was very short and because of the way it was told, via a lecture, journal entries etc, the prose were very sparse and direct, meaning there was little description or room for flourish of any kind.The plot, however, carried this and the characters were pretty good, if not fully fleshed out.
There’s a film adaption of this that I’m dying to see, but I’m my own worst critic if I watch an adaption right after I read a book, so I’ll wait a few months before watching it.