Friday, January 30, 2009

Real World by Natsuo Kirino (14/81)

Category: Crime and Detectives (with a global theme)
Country: Japan

This book was described as Japanese Feminist Noir, which I imagine is fairly small genre. I’m not too sure about the feminist angle although there were four major female characters, but it was certainly dark enough to qualify as noir.

There was a murder central to the story, but this was not a whodunit as we find this very early in the book. A teenage boy, given the nickname of “The Worm” by the girl who lives next door, kills his mother. The girl next door sees him minutes later and because of this the fate of her and three of her friends becomes entangled with his.

The book moves perspective with each chapter so we see the story parts of the story from each of the four girls and the teenage murderer. Each of the girls has a distinctive personality and their monologues discuss not only the events unfolding, but their personalities and relationships with each other. The parts from the point of view of “The Worm” (a name he bizarrely adopts for himself) are less convincing, perhaps unsurprisingly from a female author.

The overall picture is one of alienated youth, detached not only from older generations but also unable to fully connect with each other. It may be intentional then that I never felt emotionally engaged with any of the characters. I was interested in finding out what happened next, but I never really cared about any of them.

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