Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki

Image result for colorless tsukuru tazaki

Tsukuru has always felt less than his friends, less deserving of his place in their close-knit friendship circle- unlike his friends, his name is colourless, and he sees this reflected in his lack of personality. However, one day his friends suddenly cut contact with him and never speak to him again. 16 years later, Tsukuru begins to search for answers under the encouragement of his current fiance, Sara.

This is a book about three things: nostalgia, growing up and revelation. It’s a revelation-based book, but it isn’t particularly well written. It’s a decent book, but it’s not masterpiece, let me explain why.

Firstly, it’s a book about growing up an nostalgia right? It’s about going from point A to B- what happened 16 years ago, and how it is now. Except, point A, the initial starting point, is never clearly described. Murakami doesn’t capture the friendship through evoking vivid memories, rather slapping down 4 character profiles together, as if he was writing a Wikipedia page for the friendship group. We don’t get to know the friends very well, we are left with a short, trope-filled description for which we are supposed to expand to whole characters. Although, it was refreshing to see these overturned once they grew up. However, the way the characters are introduced (or rather lack of) meant I wasn’t very interested in them, as I didn’t know much about them. So when big revelations did come, such as a character revealing their true sexuality, I really couldn’t care less.

Furthermore, there is way too much travelling in this book. Murakami feels the need to describe.every.fucking.detail. Do I really need to know that Tsukuru asks the Finnish transport person for directions, that he changes trains 3 times and have each train line described? Furthermore, the prose is ungracefully cut with philosophical and scientific discussions which are written in textbook language, and it seems impossible that humans are saying these words, not textbooks. These conversations are rigid  and awkward and are not well integrated into the book, and their meaning is often unclear.

Not only could the novel be more succinct, the prose… was bland. For the first 50 pages I felt like the translator just translated every sentence without giving a thought about how the sentences might join together or flow. The narration felt distant and apathetic, and sometimes like a Wikipedia page.  It consisted of almost only simple sentences.

The novel has explores dark themes, yet it merely dips its toes in the water, decides its too cold and goes back to be warmed by a pair of tits (literally). The darkest aspects of the novels are never resolved or fully explored. Mental illness is dismissed as “evil spirits”, which I find extremely irresponsible and unhelpful- considering that it writes off mental illness as something mysterious and inherently unknowable (which only perpetuates the stigma around mental health issues), and the idea of “evil spirits” has connections with very crude, historical ideas about mental illness. But it’s fine that this is never resolved according to the novel, because Tsukuru gets to touch lots of tits! (not lying).

A feeling of incompletion pervades the novel. This is terrible because it’s a revelation-based novel! And the point of such a novel is to discover secrets and truths!

This is a decent book, but it could have been much better.

Also, I did not mean to offend Wikipedia in this review, it’s a pretty decent site,

I’m interested to hear what everyone else thought, comment below.

Content warnings (spoilery): sexually explicit descriptions, rape

Advertisements

Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

23573418

NoahandJude are inseparable twins. Jude is a daredevil who surfs and wears dark lipstick and short skirts against her mother’s wishes. Noah gets lost in art and is in love with the boy of his dreams. Their relationship becomes tense as they struggle for attention from their mother, the same friends and a place at a prestigious art schools. A tragedy occurs. The twins stop speaking to each other. The twins only have one half of the story each, if only they could come back together…

The first chapter is hard to get through. It sounds like something I’d write when I was 12. But trust me, the prose gets better. Noah and Jude jump off the page as realistic characters with their own voices, dreams and fears. The writing is pleasant to read, although punctuated with potentially annoying features such as Noah’s mind paintings and quotes from their dead grandma. Noah and Jude alternate as narrators at different points of time, and despite this, Nelson manages to make the story flow very well.

This is a book about secrets and revelations. It’s about 70% revelation and 30% actual action. At first, I admired how much Nelson was able to tie her characters and plot together. But by the end I felt that there were too many coincidences. The last few pages felt very rushed and the ending can be interpreted as uplifting. Or as I would put it: the ending was too happy.

I’ll Give You the Sun is ultimately a book about siblings, love, guilt, family, recovery and art.

Review: A Visit From The Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption. (from Goodreads)

A Visit from the Goon Squad explores the effects of time on innocence, youth and success through its large span of characters. The novel works like a carefully threaded set of short stories, each short story relating to one of the main characters (Bennie or Sasha) and utilises new and innovative forms of literature, such as using powerpoint slides and interview texts. I enjoyed the revolving perspectives and styles, an interesting way to get a story across, these techniques allow Egan reach her goal of exploring the effects of time in a short novel.

The novel was definitely a great and gripping read, however, I really like to get my hands dirty with characters and I felt sometimes this wasn’t possible in this novel as we only get glimpses of most characters.

I would have liked a more diverse range of characters. Almost all the characters were musicians or professors, a horny boy/man, conventionally sexually appealing women/men, etc. The whole cast is pretty fucking white middle class if you ask me. Furthermore, the topics of gender and sexuality is very there when Egan portrays relationships, but never really given its own discourse. Which is a pity.

In conclusion I would say it was an enjoyable read, but not a book I’d go back to time after time. I definitely think characters could have been better developed and more diverse in terms of personality and backgrounds. The characters feel like a blur, when really after reading a book you want to hold onto them and cherish them.

Review: Radio Silence

51ltawwsuql

Hello.

I hope somebody is listening.

::

Frances has always lived as “School Frances”- the perfect headgirl, the robotic high achiever devoid of personality. But when she meets Aled, the ingenius creator behind her favourite podcast, she feels free to be herself for the first time. But when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is forced to confront the past. She has to confess why Carys, Aled’s twin, disappeared. And she has to rescue Aled from Universe City before it’s too late.

::

A fast paced, contemporary YA novel that explores relationships in a digital age. On one hand, Radio Silence revolves around an Internet mystery- an anonymous Youtuber who creates a popular podcast series called “Universe City”, and on the other hand, it follows a group of stressed and tired sixth-form students who are about to make the most important step in their lives- go to university (or so they think). When these two worlds collide,  everything explodes: fandom, the effects of fame, friendship & trust, sexuality, the thin veil between reality and fiction, the ‘real’ person vs how they appear, expectations vs staying true to your self.

At the heart of the book is two things: Alice Oseman’s wonderfully diverse and fascinating characters, and a discussion about going to university- something that’s become a rite of passage for British teenagers (or should I say, new adults?). Alice Oseman has no difficulty getting her message across, doing it succinctly and with style.

Review: Nights at the Circus

Audiences clamour for her arrival, which will coincide with that of the new century.

For we are at the fag-end, the smouldering cigar-butt, of a nineteenth century, which is just about to be ground in the ashtray of history.

Sophie Fevvers, a woman with wings- the Venus Cockney, fact or fiction?

Sophie Fevvers is an aerialiste– with wings! She retells her own tale to Walser- hatching as an egg, an adolescent with wings- who becomes so enthralled in her tale that he becomes a clown to follow her. This is a story about breaking from the gilded cage, the egg– of individuals discovering their true identities and love beyond which they were prescribed.

Angela Carter’s tale knits together her magical prose with a magical plot and magical characters: dancing tigers, prophetic pigs and a flying woman. An interwoven set of stories about a cast of colourful characters at the end of a century. It captures a sense of transformation that takes place in the last moments of the nineteenth century (fictional or real)- women who think for themselves, men who see beyond their physical strength, anarchists and socialists who dream of a better world.

A fantastical read for anyone who wants to lose themselves in a hurricane of a mythic history.

 

Review: Inside Mari

What if you swapped bodies? What if you found yourself in the body of the person you most admired, the “angel-like” school idol who you pass every night (and possibly stalk)? Well that’s what life has install for Komori Isao, a hikikomori who lives for no one else but himself, playing games and masturbating endlessly on repeat. Until he becomes Mari of course.

If anyone has heard of Oshimi Shuuzou, it’s undoubtedly for his notorious manga-turned-anime Aku no Hana. So don’t be surprised about the fact the Oshimi Trio are back again- angel, devil and the boy in the middle of nowhere- potentially to take apart the idea of a perfect angel, once again.

im who are you

Oshimi explores gender expectations, and the complex fabric of social hierarchy and friendships, which Komori must now maintain as Mari. Moreover, Oshimi utilises the “body swap” to question the idea of self- at one point the protagonist admits they are no longer either Isao or Mari, but Mari-Isao. A character with both the memories and minds of Isao and Mari. Through the double lens of Mari-Isao, the original “Isao” is able to gain deeper insights into the world and into relationships, that they would not have been able to make, if not for the unbelievable situation.

Inside Mari is an interesting twist on the body swap trope, that provides commentary on social and philosophical issues. However, I would warn readers that it contains nudity, sexual scenes and suggestions of abuse, in case that is something you would like to avoid.

Inside Mari is available to read on Crunchyroll premium member and is still currently being published in Japan. Fan translations can also be found online.

Extra: From what I have read, in the manga and on forums, I believe Inside Mari is also an exploration of psychological issues and mental disorders.

Extra: I think the characters are better fleshed out than in Aku no Hana, however, that may just be the skewered perception of my memories. I think Aku No Hana was very impressionistic- it created direct and forceful scenes that were vivid and playful, deviant and repulsive. There are less explosive moments in Inside Mari, it speaks to you more directly (or so I feel).

I agree with other fans who say that Inside Mari is Aku No Hana graduated. Although again, the fallibility of memory.