All posts filed under: book review

Book review: 『蹴りたい背中』 by Risa Wataya (綿矢りさ)

Introduction Title: 『蹴りたい背中』 (けりたいせなか)Author: Risa WATAYA (綿矢りさ)Published by 河出文庫183 pages This is Risa Wataya’s second and best known novel who won her the Akutagawa Prize at the age of 19. Review My previous experience with Risa Wataya’s books has not been exciting. I read 『勝手にふるえてろ』in translation but remember not being impressed by it. More recently, I read 『私をくいとめて』 in Japanese and, similarly, did not find it very interesting. Consequently, and even though it won the Akutagawa Prize, I was not expecting to love 『蹴りたい背中』. It was thus a pleasant surprise to discover that it has much more vivacity than the other two books I read, and I enjoyed it enough. What I loved the most in the book is how the two protagonists are true loners who don’t fit in their environment. What they do is weird for the society, but not in the cool way of being eccentric and breaking social conventions, more in a pathetic and helpless sort of way that makes them authentic. I feel like I have read tons of stories where the protagonists …

Book review: 『ガリレオの苦悩』 by Keigo Higashino

Introduction Title: 『ガリレオの苦悩』 (がりれおのくのう)Author: Keigo HIGASHINO (東野圭吾)Published by 文春文庫p376. This is the fourth book in the Galileo series. It is a collection of five short stories. Four of the short stories were first published in various magazines and one was written for the book edition, which was first published in 2008. As far as I know, this book has not been translated into English. Review As usual, I found the cases in this book very entertaining, but to be honest, this book might be the one I enjoyed reading the least so far. (I am reading the whole Galileo series in order). The first short story introduces detective Kaoru Utsumi who now works with Kusanagi. I read Salvation of a Saint some years ago in translation – which is the next book of the series and features Kaoru – but I did not remember the character of Kaoru well. As a result, I was very surprised by this addition and even more surprised (disappointed might be the correct word) to see her take Kusanagi’s place. …

Book review: 『六番目の小夜子』 by Riku Onda

Introduction 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. Review 『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 …

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

Introduction 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. Review 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 …

Book review: 『誰も知らない死刑の舞台裏』 by Shoji Kondo

Introduction Title: 『誰も知らない死刑の舞台裏』 (だれもしらない しけいのぶたいうら)Author: Shoji Kondo (近藤昭二)Published by 二見レインボー文庫 (Futami Rainbow Bunko)292 pages. Shoji Kondo is a journalist, author and scriptwriter. He is the representative of the NPO法人731部隊・細菌戦資料センター, an NPO that works on revealing the atrocities committed in Unit 731, as well as establishing Japan’s responsibility and build a better relationship with China. (source) Review I have been wanting to learn more about death penalty in Japan since I learnt that death row inmates are informed of their execution date the very morning of their execution. I was very shocked when I read this for the first time, I had to double and triple check online, because it just did not seem possible to me. When I found out that the family of the person executed was notified of the execution only after it had been carried out, I was even more shocked if possible. I know that public opinion in Japan is massively for the death penalty, but at the same time, it seems difficult to find information about the system, like the daily …

Book review: 『白馬山荘殺人事件』 by Keigo Higashino

Introduction Title: 『白馬山荘殺人事件』 (はくばさんそうさつじんじけん)Author: Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾)Published by 光文社文庫 『白馬山荘殺人事件』 is one of Keigo Higashino’s first novels. First published by 光文社 in 1986, the book got its first 文庫 edition in 1990 and got a new re-print this year (2020) with a new cover design and a bigger font. Review The more I read Keigo Higashino, the more I think that I like his earlier writings the most (with the exception of the Kaga series, for which I find that the books get better and better). Based on the books that I have read that date from the late 80s and early 90s like 『白馬山荘殺人事件』, 『仮面山荘殺人事件』 or 『回廊亭の殺人』, I find that the story is mainly focused on solving the murder and revealing the truth rather than going deep into the characters’ life or feelings. All three novels set their story in a remote place, with a limited number of characters and even if the end did not always convince me, I found these novels extremely engrossing. Later writings seem to expand the story in terms of …