世界から猫が消えたなら・せかいからねこがきえたなら is a novel by 川村元気・かわむらげんき. A film based on the novel was released last year. I haven’t seen the film but I plan to.
Even if I am posting this in the “currently reading” category of my blog, I am not really reading this book, I am listening to the audiobook. I bought it on the site Febe.jp and have listened to it almost every day since then (even if only for 10 minutes). It is part of my strategy to improve my listening skills.
As I usually listen to the audiobook while doing other things like cooking or playing with my cats, I am not always 100% concentrated on what I hear. But I still can understand most of what is said, partly because the book is easy, partly because I listened to it several times.
About the story
To be honest, I am a little disappointed by the book, but that is maybe because I had too high expectations after I read the summary: a young man who is about to die can let the devil erase an object from the world to be able to live one day more.
Actually, I found this plotline very catchy and thought that the book would deal with some kind of alternative society. If I had had the book in hand I would have seen that the novel is much too short to really dig deep into this direction. And so, I was very disappointed when I listened to the first chapter. Some parts gave me the impression that I was listening to a book for children, especially the confrontation with the devil.
The book does not interest itself with the consequences of the disappearance of important objects on society, the story only focuses on the protagonist. I expected more reflections about what it meant for the world, humanity and social development to lack such important things (I don’t want to reveal which ones) and I was disappointed to find none of those reflections (or very obvious ones). Of course, one could say that this story is a kind of allegory and should be read as such, without other expectations.
What I liked were the flashbacks and the way the protagonist’s relationship with his parents slowly exposes itself. I found the flashbacks involving the protagonist’s mother to be the most interesting.
Well, the novel lays interesting paths but doesn’t follow them, nonetheless, it is a nice story. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I would not be surprised if it were better than the book. I am not saying that the book is not worth reading, only that it is a very short and simple one, that should be read without too big expectations, more like an entertaining story and a way to pass the time agreeably.
For Japanese learners
If we leave aside literary requirements, this book is perfect for Japanese learners! It really is an easy novel!
First, it is very short (only 219 pages for the novel, written in a rather big size of font), well structured and with a single narrator.
Second, as I said, it sometimes looks like a book for children, the language, the words used are very simple. As we are following the narrator’s thought, there is no need for rare kanji or difficult words.
Third, I am totally helpless at listening, I feel like my ears are filled with cotton every time I try to listen to Japanese. BUT, I can understand the audiobook of the novel without problems. I can even follow long parts of narration with the impression that I understand every single word. If I can understand the audiobook, it really means that it is easy. (I have just passed N2 but I am sure that you can give this novel a try with N3).
So, if you are looking for an easy and short novel to read in Japanese, this is a good choice. I also recommend the audiobook because the quality is very high and it features Daisuke Ono, whose voice is very pleasant to listen to.