Book review: 『いたいのいたいの、とんでゆけ』by Sugaru Miaki


Title: 『いたいのいたいの、とんでゆけ』
Author: Sugaru MIAKI (三秋縋)
Published by メディアワークス文庫
364 pages.

Sugaru Miaki is best known for the novel 『恋する寄生虫』 that has been adapted into a manga by ホタテユウキ and will get a film adaptation in 2021.


22 year-old Mizuha kills a highschool student when drunk driving. However, his young victim has the power to put off distressful events, and Mizuha is ready to do anything to make up for the accident.

It took me a while to get into the novel, but once I did, I loved it more and more as the story unfolded.

I did not like the beginning of the novel because it had some similarities with Norwegian Wood, a book that I did not like despite its being such a famous novel. One thing that I was not a fan of in Norwegian Wood is that the protagonist is a rather dull and uninteresting character, yet all the women of the story feel attracted to him. Similarly, Mizuha is the kind of person who usually goes unnoticed but he still manages to draw the attention of his schoolmate and his beautiful neighbour. Some topics like correspondence or suicide were also similar to Murakami’s novel.

However, when the story kicks off after the car accident, the novel takes an unexpected turn of events. I thought it would mainly be a story about youth, love and depression (a little like Norwegian Wood), but the story suddenly turns into a thriller-like scenario with a revenge theme, mild gore scenes and some suspense.

The end was also surprising, changing tone again to come back to a more romantic line of story, but introducing some heavy topics like domestic violence and school bullying.

Overall, I find that this story was engrossing and entertaining, but at the same time, it also made me feel depressed at times. The end was not what I was expecting, and the book turned out not to be the relaxing read I thought it would be.

In the afterwords, the author writes: 『いたいのいたいの、とんでゆけ』は、二度と抜け出せない穴に落ちた人の物語でした。しかし僕はそれを単に薄暗い話としてではなく、元気の出る話として書いたつもりでいます。とてもそうは見えないかもしれませんけれど、でも、そうなのです。(p.364) I agree that it does not look like it at all… At least, I did not have this impression and felt quite sad when I closed the book.

『いたいのいたいの、とんでゆけ』 is a beautiful love story that deals with heavy topics and borrows from other genres like thriller and speculative fiction. It might not be a 薄暗い話 but it is not rose either. I do recommend it, but it might not be the best read if you feel depressed at the moment. Despite what the author says, I would not describe this novel as “元気の出る話”.

I will definitely try to get my hands on 『恋する寄生虫』!

Book review: 『六番目の小夜子』 by Riku Onda


Title: 『六番目の小夜子』 (ろくばんめの さよこ)
Author: Riku ONDA (恩田陸)
Published by 新潮文庫
339 pages

Riku Onda is a prolific author who won the Naoki Prize in 2017 for her novel 『蜜蜂と遠雷』.

『六番目の小夜子』 is her debut novel.


『六番目の小夜子』 has overall positive reviews on Amazon, but it is hard for me to understand why… Maybe some reviews are from readers who love Riku Onda and enjoyed reading her debut novel, not as much for the book itself but as a pilgrimage to their favourite author’s starting point.

The setting of the story is a highschool and our protagonists are a bunch friends who go through their third and last year together. The story spans a whole year.

There is a mysterious tradition in this school, though… Once every three year, someone is chosen to incarnate “Sayoko”. Part of the mystery consists in guessing who is Sayoko and what exactly is her role.

The beginning of the book was very promising with the prologue explaining the rule of the wink murder game. It is a party game where a “murderer” and a “detective” are chosen. People then go on talking to each other and the “murderer” can wink at people to “kill” them. The victim waits a few seconds before fainting, and obviously, the detective has to find the murderer. Then the prologue says: 私達の学校のある『行事』は、ちょうどこのゲームに似ている。(…) 今、紹介したゲームの『犯人』にあたる者は、それでは『サヨコ』と呼ばれた。(p.8-9). I was so enthusiastic when I read this, I thought I was starting an exciting murder mystery. I cannot tell you what this Sayoko has to do in the novel, but I can tell you that: it is not going around killing people. I don’t understand why the prologue would make such a false advertisement. I cannot help but feeling deceived by it.

Overall, there is a lot of mystery surrounding the school tradition to choose a “Sayoko”, but in the end, it was much ado about nothing.

I also found strange that the novel went in different directions in terms of genre without really committing to any. It looks like a mystery novel, there are supernatural elements, some horror too and some romance elements among students. Towards the end, we end up with characters that are preoccupied by finding the truth behind this Sayoko thing and characters who are worried about who will go out with who before the end of the school year. I thought it was a strange mix.

Finally, as the story spans a whole year, there are jumps in time between each chapter. This is something that I am not a big fan of in general, but I found that it did not serve the story well in this particular novel. I constantly had the impression that the characters had moved forward when I hadn’t. When I felt a little involved in the story, there would be a jump in time and I would start to lose interest. One chapter in particular ends on a very dramatic event. Tension has built up, there is danger and suspense, but of all the sudden, we find ourselves months later and the aftermaths of the episode is told as a flashback. It was a weird feeling to be left in the middle of a dramatic scene and then realise that all the characters had moved on and didn’t care about it anymore.

The fact that the narration keeps changing its focus between the different protagonists also did not make me want to stick to the book. If I don’t particularly enjoy a story, the connection between me (as a reader) and the protagonist usually makes me want to continue to read. When the narration follows several characters, I don’t feel committed to one of them in particular, so there is not much left to keep me involved in the story.

Overall, I did not enjoy this book, even though I usually like school mysteries. This was a debut novel though, and I am interesting in reading other books by Riku Onda. I will certainly start with the Naoki prize winner 『蜜蜂と遠雷』.

September wrap up: 4 books less on my TBR!

September has been a stressful month to me, and I wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked. I did manage to complete my September challenge but that’s about it:

It feels so good to have reduced my TBR pile, even by four books. I feel entitled to a nice book haul now, hehehe 😈

『探偵さえいなければ』 by Tokuya Higashigawa (東川篤哉)

I bought this book earlier this year, I believe. I liked the art cover and the title, and I buy anything that has 殺人事件 or 探偵 in its title anyway.

The reason why I hadn’t started reading this book right away is because I usually read several books at the same time but each one occupies a different slot. For example, I will read a detective novel, a literary novel and a nonfiction book at the same time, but I would avoid reading three detective novels at the same time.

It looks like the slot for detective novel/relaxing read was always taken and I kept putting off the moment to read 『探偵さえいなければ』.

This book was also an impulse buy, and I did not read the summary on the back cover nor did I have a close look at the obi. If I had, I would have seen that it says 大人気「烏賊川市」シリーズ文庫最新刊!. This book is the eighth and most recent volume in the series “Ikagawa city”, and I hate starting series in the middle (or worse, by the last instalment!).

『探偵さえいなければ』 can be read separately, so it was not a catastrophe to start with it. However, the author does not introduce recurring characters anymore, so I did feel that I was missing something. There were also some allusions to former cases, and some hints that certainly have more flavour if you have read the previous books… so overall I think that it is always best to read a series in order.

The five short stories of the book were all extremely entertaining, very funny and good detective stories. I am definitely going to read the whole series, starting with the first one this time!

『蹴りたい背中』 by Risa Wataya (綿矢りさ)

Finally, finally I managed to read 『蹴りたい背中』!!! I am so glad! I have this book on my shelf for several years now! I bought it at a time when I was able to read some detective novels and wanted to try reading something else. I didn’t know what to buy at the time and chose this book because I knew it and wanted to read it in translation anyway. It is also very short, only 183 pages with big margins and a big interline too.

Back then, I managed to read 20 or 30 pages but gave up because it was too difficult. Worse than the books that I have on my TBR for a long time, are the ones I tried to read but gave up or just did not finished for various reasons. These are the books that I really don’t want to open again. When I thought that my level was good enough to read Risa Wataya, I preferred to buy another of her books instead of just reading the one I had at home…

This is why I am so glad to have read it, finally. I am also happy to see that the beginning of the book is really quite difficult! When I first tried to read it, this book really left me depressed. I was able to read a Keigo Higashino, but 『蹴りたい背中』 was such a struggle that I could not make it past the first 30 pages. I suddenly went from “I can read books in Japanese!” to “oh no, wait, I can’t”…

Now I see that 『蹴りたい背中』 has some challenging passages and that the beginning is especially difficult. No wonder that I struggled at the time. In the range of literary fiction, this one might be on the easier side, but I would not recommend it as an easy read overall.

『本を読む人だけが手にするもの』by Kazuhiro Fujihara (藤原和博)

Once more, I bought this book because of the title, but I did not read the summary or look closer at the book’s content. I thought it would be about what literature can bring you, but it turns out to be a self-help/business book, even though I am not even sure that we can classify this book that way.

When I bought it, I started it immediately, but it soon became clear that the author was not talking about how literature can change your life, but how important it is to build a habit of reading if you want to become a successful person. I was disappointed in the topic and gave up after reading around 50 pages.

I could have let this book on the DNF cemetery, but a part of me was thinking that maybe I could find some reading tips or motivation in this book. At the time, after 50 pages, I thought that this book would be a self-help book on productivity. A little like the Input-Output series by Shion Kabasawa.

Once again, I ended up disappointed. It is not really a self-help or self-improvement book. To be honest, I don’t even understand the point of this book, and I don’t see for whom it is written. I will talk more about the content and why I disliked it in my book review, but for now I will just say that reading it was just a waste of time. I don’t recommend it.

『麒麟の翼』 by Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾)

And last but not least, the 9th book of the Kaga series by Higashino. I must have bought 『麒麟の翼』 right after I finished the previous book which was 『新参者』. I took a look at my blog and it shows that I finished 『新参者』 in August 2019! This means that 『麒麟の翼』 has been sitting on my TBR pile for a whole year…

The reason why it took me so long to read this book is because I love the series so much that I don’t want to reach the end to soon. As much as I want to go on with the series, I also like the idea that I still have a couple of books to read.

I also know for sure that the next book of the Kaga series will be a great read, so I want to find the right time for it.

As expected, I feel both happy to have read this book and sad to think that there is only one book remaining (though I guess that 『希望の系』 can be seen as part of the series).


Overall, September has not been the best month to me, but I am still very happy with my readings as they not only reduced my TBR, but also brought me closer to completing my reading challenge for 2020. This month’s readings have allowed me to progress on three mini challenges:

Blog Holiday

As I said, September has been stressful for me, so I have decided to take a break in October. I won’t set myself a reading challenge, so I am not even sure whether I will read in Japanese or take a complete break. There are many books I want to read in English, so I might focus on that instead.

As for the blog, I think that I will continue to post book reviews as I am pretty late with those, but there will be no “news” post on the 25th, and I don’t think that I will be able to post on the 15th either. In any case, I will see you for the book reviews!

Book review: 『11文字の殺人』 by Keigo Higashino


Title: 『11文字の殺人』 (11もじのさつじん)
Author: Keigo HIGASHINO (東野圭吾)
Published by 光文社文庫
356 pages

『11文字の殺人』 is one of Keigo Higashino’s first novels. It was first published in 1990 and got a new bunko edition this year (2020) with a new design cover and a bigger font.


This book is a real page-turner. I found it very easy to read, the kind of books where I am able to read 50 pages or more in a row because it is mainly composed of dialogues.

Our protagonist is an author of crime fiction whose partner has been murdered, and who decides to investigate by herself. There is nothing unrelated to the case in the novel, the pace is very quick, we jump from an interview to another, there are almost no descriptions.

I would say that 『11文字の殺人』 is purely entertaining, and that it succeeds in keeping the reader engrossed in the story until the end. It certainly does not have the depth of other books like 『手紙』 or 『虚な十字架』, nor the genius of other whodunnits like those of the Kaga series, but it is a page-turner and an easy read.

To me, it was the perfect book to relax, a book that does not ask any effort on my part and keeps me entertained. I think that it one of the easiest Higashino books I have read, and one that I recommend to people who want to get into reading Higashino but want to start with an easy one.