Saturday, September 6, 2008


by Natsuo Kirino

This is my first read for this Challenge and apparently it is quite popular! As the other reviews have explained, this story opens with four women working the night shift in a factory making boxed lunches. When one of them murders her abusive husband the others assist with the disposal of the body. In typical noir fashion, things go from bad to worse as these four desperate and broken women try to cope with the police investigation, a loan shark and another murderer. I don’t normally read crime fiction but I generally like dark stories and boy is this dark, sadistic, brutal and shocking. Although I enjoyed it, it is not for the faint of heart.

I thought it was very well written (and translated) and that the author really captured both her characters and settings very well. It really transported me to the outskirts of Tokyo to the lunch box factory, the night club or the characters' homes. Even though not a single one of the characters is likeable and all have committed despicable acts they were so incredibly real that I cared about them and wanted to find out what happened in their story. You could really feel the desperation that each of these characters experienced. There is certainly an undercurrent of gender conflict in the novel but it never becomes preachy or obtrusive.

The only criticism I have is that the ending was a little odd. The ultimate showdown is told twice from two different perspectives. Although it was interesting to get the two perspectives of the same battle, I think this could have been achieved a little more artfully without a complete second retelling which I felt disrupted the flow of the story. I would also warn that the ending was incredibly brutal and disturbing and I can think of many friends that would not be comfortable reading it.


Bellezza said...

This seems to be the most popular book of the challenge so far. Now I really need to read it for myself~!

tanabata said...

We essentially had the same reaction to this book! :)

Carl V. said...

Good review Moo and I really agree on your points. I felt the end was a bit choppy as well but it was still an interesting ending and overall I liked the book. It was a very compelling read and one that I just could not put down. All the characters are indeed flawed...very flawed...and like I said in my review I was amazed at how I still chose sides as I was reading and was actually rooting for certain characters. It was a surreal experience. I hope to read more of her work in the future because I certainly was impressed.

DreamQueen said...

I read this book a few months ago and really really enjoyed it though, like everyone else who's commented, found the conclusion hard to take in several ways. I'm looking forward to reading Kirino's other books though!