Saturday, November 12, 2016

Kindle Spotlight -- Another

Today we have a Japanese novel by Yukito Ayatsuji. It is Another.

The story takes place in Japan in 1998. Teenager Koichi Sakakibara has just transferred from Tokyo to the rural town of Yomiyama following a hospitalization. Everyone is friendly at first and the town seems very peaceful. But when he finally arrives at Yomiyama North Middle School, things take a strange turn. First, we are told a legend about a student named Misaki or Masaki (no one is quite sure) who died in the 1970s at this school. Ever since then, unexplained phenomena has been reported.

Anyway, Koichi meets his classmates and they seem to hit it off. However, he then encounters a mysterious girl in his class named Mei Misaki. She's antisocial, says cryptic things, comes and goes at seemingly random, and no one seems to notice her. They do, however, seem to take note of Koichi's attempts to befriend her and issue vague warnings. Koichi is understandably perplexed, but he can't get any answers from the students and faculty.

At first, this is just a confusing annoyance. But when people around him start to die horribly, it gets deadly serious and the people in his class become increasingly distant and terrified. At this point, the only one willing to answer his questions might be Mei Misaki. But the answers she gives won't necessarily make things easier for him, and eventually he will have a choice to make: stand up for Misaki and himself, or accept the status quo for the greater good.

This novel came out of nowhere for me, and I have to's delightfully different. I thought we were just going to get a standard ghost story, but the explanation for the bizarre happenings in this story turned out to be far more cerebral than I could have imagined. It's complicated, but rewarding when you finally grasp what's going on. You think you have Koichi's class and faculty figured out, but then the big revelation comes and you realize you have to take another look at these people.

I should also point out that Ayatsuji wrote a sequel, so don't expect things to wrap up neatly at the end of this volume.

Bottom line: Another is intelligent and freaky.

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