Book review: 『恋する寄生虫』 by Sugaru Miaki

Introduction

Title: 『恋する寄生虫』 (こいするきせいちゅう)
Author: Sugaru MIAKI (三秋縋)
Published by メディアワークス文庫
309 pages

This novel has been adapted into manga by ホタテユウキ which is published by Kadokawa (角川コミックス・エース) and is divided into 3 volumes. A film adaptation is scheduled for 2021.

Quick rating: 😄 then 🤨
Sugaru Miaki really knows how to write gripping stories of love and hopelessness. If the book would have been just that, it would have been perfect to me, but it introduces medical/supernatural elements that I found overly complex and unconvincing.

Review

This is only the second book I read by Sugaru Miaki, but I can already say that he has a very distinctive style and tone. I really love the atmosphere of his novels, even though I find them a little too depressing for a relaxing read.

In the postface of 『いたいのいたいの、とんでゆけ』, Miaki said that he likes writing about 落とし穴の中で幸せそうにしている物語, and I think that this applies to this novel as well.

I loved the first half of the novel. Our two protagonists have each their problems that prevent them from having even the most basic form of social life. The description of how they meet, get along with each other and try to overcome their difficulties was really good, and I could have read hundreds of pages of it. I really love how Miaki describes this kind of relationship, and even though this is not my usual read, I enjoyed the first half of the book very much.

However, I did not like the mechanism behind the story. If it were simply the story of two loners who try to help each other, I would have loved the novel until the end. But there is much more to it, with some supernatural elements, and unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. These elements include medical conditions and parasites, and while it gives an interesting and unique flavour to the love story, I also found that it was unnecessarily complex and unconvincing.

In the end, I think that I loved Miaki’s other novel, 『いたいのいたいの、とんでゆけ』, because it contains topics like murder and vengeance, so while it was a love story, the novel also lined up with my personal taste in fiction. On the contrary, I am not a fan of SF or magical realism, so 『恋する寄生虫』 was much less engrossing to me.

To sum up, I think that 『恋する寄生虫』 is a great book, and it was simply not for me. I would have loved it if it was simpler and more realistic, because I do enjoy Miaki’s writing very much. All the parts on the parasites thing and how it affects our protagonists left me perplexed and I started losing interest for the story at some point.

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

Introduction

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.

Review

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』!