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Natsuo Kirino "Real World" - 4.5/5

This is the first book I've read by Kirino, but I have Out on my shelf and Grotesque on my wishlist, and I'm really looking forward to reading both.

I wasn't sure what style of book this was when I picked it up (in fact, I didn't even read the cover blurb). The cover looks like it could be horror, and I see people have tagged it as a thriller, but I wouldn't call it either (definitely not horror). It's a book about five teenagers, four girls who are all good friends, and a boy who lives next door to one of them. One day the boy kills his mother and goes on the run, and although none of the girls have ever spoken to him before, they all end up getting involved with his escape in some way. But even though there's a murder and someone's on the run from the cops, it's not a thriller or an adventure. It's more...character studies, almost. Kind of typical literary fiction, really. I really liked it a lot.

I read this in translation, and I'm happy to say that it reads really well in English. (I'm always kind of hesitant because the popularity of all things Japanese these days means a lot of shoddy translation, not just in manga (though that's probably where it's worst), but in novels as well. I tried to read The Ring in English out of curiosity and it was horrible.)


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