I’m starting to feel that Natsuo Kirino is a one-book author (at least for me.) I loved Out but have not really liked her other two novels translated into English. Real World – about four teenaged girls caught up in the murder of a middle-aged woman by her son – was somewhat better than Grotesque, but it really felt like Kirino was retreading old ground with this one (the ennui of Japan’s privileged teenagers and their feeling of not belonging seems like something I’ve read before.) None of the four girls was readily distinguishable from the others, although Kirino used different first-person narratives; nor were they particularly distinguishable from the teenage boy who narrates two of the chapters. The startling (or tragic) events of the final chapters failed to move me in the slightest because I’d spent 150 pages not caring about any of the characters.
(Read March 16, 2010)