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A Japanese novel where three stories intertwine to weave a terrifying story of the nature of identity and the twin powers of love and death. A raven falls for a blind girl loosing her memories. A boy learns any creature he harms will skip the cycle of death as long as they remain in his proximity. A young woman changes completely after she gets an illegal eye transplant.
I love Asian culture so despite this being a clear horror genre novel I decided to jump in with an open mind. I was instantly captured by the raven. Totally sucked in and rooting for this bird. There is a whimsical quality to Otsuichi’s writing that I love. It does cause you to have to suspend disbelief more than even a paranormal story. For example, eyeballs are pulled and put into eye sockets with no mention of the optic nerve. In contrast there is this heartfelt, emotional side to the stories that grabs you by the throat:
“I was starved for memories. I had none since I first awoke in the hospital not that long before. I was like dry, barren sand. Without memories, I had no roots, no foundation on which to stand.”
I loved the way this book opened and when you learn why it opened this way I wasn’t disappointed in the least. It was quite unexpected and made me wonder and keep reading even when the next story got a tad boring. That was another slight problem, there was a point in the transplant story where I was like, no more memories, I’m done. Then right after the story moved on but really the raven carried me through most of that time. I was very interested in Nami’s new eye and her problems with the loss of her memory but the setup went a tad long. Masterfully handled nevertheless.
To say much more about Nami’s and Miki’s stories would be to ruin the horror aspect of the story. To say it was creepy is an understatement. In my reading progress notes I wrote: “I’m confused, sickened and quite shocked!!!!!!!!!! So is Nami I suspect!” You won’t be disappointed if this is your kind of genre! It is a story of a regular girl daringly facing horrifying events.
Miki’s part was masterfully written too and made the end a major twist factory. I was a tad confused at first but Otsuichi does a great job going over events enough in the end so you understand what really happened. It was very suspenseful to me and I even tried to think of what I would do if I were the writer and I couldn’t think where the answers lay, I was truly blown away. Nami really became a star to me for a girl I felt very little about when she first was introduced. That is a sign of a great writer to me, being able to reveal the star in even the most regular of characters…
BOTTOM LINE: A strong stomach needed, so horrifying you can’t look away.
Thank you to Netgalley and Shueisha for the early copy of this book.