Recent Novel Round-up

Posted by DiGiKerot in Novels at October 22, 2009 on 8:33 pm

In the spirit of getting things out of the way, I suppose I should pass comment on the novels I’ve been reading recently. I’ve not really been feeling the need to pontificate at length regarding these things, so I’m going to keep it short-ish today.

And you couldn’t get much shorter than me talking about The Sighs of Suzumiya Haruhi – Haruhi fans will know exactly what to expect from this one, largely because they’ll have just sat through a startlingly faithful anime adaptation of it. Whilst it faired a little better for me than the first book – in so much as I didn’t find it quite so tedious due to over-familiarisation of the material – it still doesn’t really give you anything that you wouldn’t get from the anime, and that version at least looks pretty.

Otsu-ichi’s Zoo is rather more of a tricky beast, being a collection of short stories. Unsurprisingly, the contents a little on the mixed side. It’s probably not the image of the book that Haikasoru wants to promote, but, honestly, the best the book gets is when it reads like something straight out of Faust, with all whole janky, unrealistic, darkly humorous dialogue that saturates said anthology. Unfortunately, that’s breaks down to three of the books eleven stories. The best, for my money, is In a Falling Airplane, in which a failed salesman attempts to sell a euthanasia drug to a woman terrified of dying a painful death, set against the backdrop of a airplane hijacking in which those attempting to assail the hijacker repeatedly fail for inexplicable reasons.

Those who read Otsu-ichi’s other US published work may well remember Goth, a book in which every story had a twist in it. It’s perhaps a little disappointing that much of the rest of the material in Zoo follows the same pattern. It wasn’t so much of a problem in Goth because, aside from the fact that it was clear that was the genre of the book, the stories where generally longer, more fleshed out, part of an ongoing narrative of sorts and, most importantly, the twist never really felt like it was the actual ending. Not so much in Zoo – after a point you start to get this hideous sinking feeling in your gut when you realise that you’re reading a twist-story, you know exactly what the twist is going to be, and the fact that it’s going to end exactly as it reveals it. Zoo rarely disappoints in that regard, by which I mean it does, by doing exactly what you expect.

This isn’t really to say that more than half of Zoo is terrible or anything, more that it’s just somewhat crushingly disappointing coming out of Goth and those first two volumes of Faust – it’s just not as good as Otsu-ichi’s work there.

I also read The Lords of The Sands of Time. I don’t really have much to say about it – so I’ll just point you towards what Omo said about the book, and merely mention that I enjoyed it more than I was expecting to.

Looking forward, there’s not a massive amount I have picked out for future reading. That the next two Haikasoru releases are Battle Royale and Brave Story – the former of which I read years ago, and the later I’ve got the hardcover of and looks way too imposing large for me to actually get around to reading – doesn’t leave me with much in the way of upcoming releases to get to. This leaves me with the other recent Haikasoru release, Usurper of the Sun, which is probably next up. More surprising, largely because I had absolutely no idea there was an English-language release of it, is Yasutaka Tsutsui’s Paprika, the book upon which the Satoshi Kon movie of the same name was based. Looks like it was published over here in the UK earlier this year – there doesn’t look to be a US print, and US Amazon doesn’t seem to list it. Shame.

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