From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–A dark tale of teen angst and despair in suburban Tokyo. Through alternating first-person narratives, four girls and one boy tell a story of murder and deception. Descriptions of the hot, humid summer enhance the oppressive feeling of the novel. Characters are well drawn and real, though not always sympathetic–they make life-altering mistakes, dont trust or confide in adults, and are absorbed in their individual worlds. Kirino offers insight into the teens through chapters that read like diary entries as they divulge the deepest secrets, fears, and longings of Toshi, Terauchi, Yuzan, Kirarin, and the boy they call Worm. Readers glimpse at the cliques, social pressures, and academic expectations endured by adolescents in contemporary Japan. Alternating narration sets a fast pace but can be jarring. With five different voices, readers sometimes have to backtrack to figure out who is telling the story. Nevertheless, the technique is effective for evoking an unsettled atmosphere and reinforcing the chaos of life in the Real World
. Prominent themes in this psychological thriller include alienation from parents, secret identities, matricide, and complicated relationships even among friends–which is your real self? Two dark surprises at the end of the novel are shocking but not unrealistic. This book will appeal to readers who enjoy teenage problem novels, as well as manga fans interested in Japanese culture.–Sondra VanderPloeg, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH
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Natsuo Kirino’s latest noir thriller, a grim look at teen culture, elicited varying reactions from critics. Kirino focuses intently on her characters’ inner lives as she delves deeply into their nihilist worldviews and feelings of alienation. But some critics found the angst-ridden, self-absorbed teens melodramatic and unconvincing, their slang-studded dialogue often cringe-worthy. Tension mounts as narrators shift and events are gradually revealed from different perspectives; however, some reviewers considered the plot depressing and predictable. Instead of a suspenseful crime novel, Real World
may function better as an examination of contemporary youth coming of age in a world of chat rooms, text messages, and reality TV who will cling to anything that connects them, however tenuously, to what they perceive as the “real” world.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC