Sunday, January 15, 2012


As the anime is airing this season and I'm too busy and/or lazy, get your summary somewhere else, but not on Wiki as that one already tells you a third of the whole novel.

I don't know whether I should be glad that the solution and narrative trick at the end were actually better than I expected. Because otherwise, I could have thrown this novel at a wall and never look at it again. Good gracious!! What a dragging plot! And I don't even mean the story and setting as such. It's really entirely the plotting that made me take at least a month for this to finish. I can't even count the instances where characters were saying phrases like "Now is not the time..." or "I'm so sorry... I will tell you later"!

This was annoying the hell out of me and I took so many breaks during my reading like I never did with any other book (at least by choice). I know it's hard to build up tension over a course of 4 months and at the end it made sense the story had to take place in this time frame, but still you could write this novel in pretty much half as long or at least two-thirds. While at the end you do somewhat in a totally empathic way understand why Mei and the other classmates couldn't tell you everything from the start, the reason for Kouichi, the freaking narrator, is simply "I wanted to ask her... but somehow I felt this was not the time to do so". Like I said, simply annoying.

I could complain about the (in my opinion and compared to e.g. this) mostly missing atmosphere, but then again this was unexpectedly more mystery than horror. Even knowing there is a narrative trick in this novel I only figured out about half of it and have to admit that the old man is still pretty good at this. If only the solution wasn't the only good thing about a 675 pages hardcover novel... Well, I admit the two main characters were alright even though Ayatsuji tried way too hard to appeal to new younger readers, but then again he could have given the other characters more depth as well if he was writing such a rather long book instead of wasting the pages on barely anything in some places. There are some additions in the manga, which fits the source material perfectly compared to the anime btw, but I don't know whether those were Ayatsuji's idea or the mangaka's. Maybe I don't even want to know. 

Bottom line is that I still don't know whether I liked this book or not and where it ranks in the books I've read so far from this author. I'm feeling pretty indifferent about it. I guess it would be different if this wasn't such a tiresome reading experience but I can't recommend reading the manga either because only in novels those narrative tricks really work out and since this was the best aspect of the book anyway... you might give it a try in bunko format so your hands don't drop off.


  1. I am still not sure whether I should watch the anime or not. Every review I've read up until describes it as a horror-story, which makes me wonder whether that is simply the dominant tone of the original story, or whether the animation studio just changed the tone.

  2. I don't consider it to be a horror-story as I can't find anything creepy as long as you aren't or haven't been a Japanese middle school student. Otherwise you can't really grasp the feeling the author aimed at.

    The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 asks "What?" and "Why?", Part 2 asks "How?" and "Who?". As I said the latter part is definitely better since the narrative trick is pretty nice but the first part is rather boring as it's pretty easy to figure out what's going on.

    You might just try out the 20 mins each week as long as you don't expect orthodox mystery stuff. It's about two chapters or more a week so at least -something- happens each episode...