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Subduction Hardcover – May 29, 2012

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Todd Shimoda's Subduction is a wonderful, multi-layered mystery filled with good humor, razor-sharp tension and startling aftershocks that recalls the best of Haruki Murakami." -- Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, author of Love in Translation and Midori by Moonlight.

About the Author

Todd Shimoda won the 2010 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, presented by the Hawai’i Literary Arts Council. It is the highest literary honor in the state. Of his previous novels, Oh! was named an NPR summer best read and a notable book by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. The Fourth Treasure was translated into six languages and was named a notable book by the Kiriyama Prize. His novels have been reviewed and he has been interviewed in many US and international publications such the San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, The Japan Times, and The Village Voice. He was born and raised in Colorado, and lives in Hawaii and California. His PhD in science and mathematics education is from the University of California, Berkeley.

L.J.C. (Linda) Shimoda is an accomplished artist, illustrator, and book designer. Her artwork and illustrations have appeared in her husband Todd Shimoda's novels, 365 Views of Mt. Fuji, The Fourth Treasure, and Oh!. Linda's artwork adds a dynamic visual layer to Todd's stories, creating an experience beyond reading. Her art has appeared in many venues and publications, and she received a degree in design from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Chin Music Press Inc. (May 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984457674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984457670
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,736,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I picked up Subduction by Todd Shimoda from the library earlier this month, expecting something different than what I ended up getting. I don't recall where I first noticed the book, but the description was along the lines of a seismological murder mystery. At its core, that's technically accurate. In reality, it's more a story of how a person's actions from the past continue to cause tremors in the lives of others over the years. Add in the cultural aspect of the story being set on a tiny Japanese island, and I experienced a bit of a jolt (pun somewhat intended) in terms of pacing and motivations.

The story revolves around three individuals who find themselves on a Japanese island where the small fishing village has seen better days. The government would like to move the aging population off the island due to the danger of earthquakes in the area, but the villagers would prefer to simply be left alone. They don't trust the newcomers, and that trust factor colors everything that happens.

Mari Sasaki is on the island to record the stories of the islanders for a potential documentary. She's done a relatively good job getting people to open up to her, and she knows how many of the lives interconnect on the island. Aki Ishikawa is the seismologist trying to develop an early warning system for the earthquakes that plague the island. He left a wife and child to pursue his research, but he's not very open as to why he felt compelled to do this. Jun Endo is the primary character, and he's stuck on the island for the next four years. He was a first year intern who took the fall for a mistake by the head resident that resulted in the death of a patient. The island exile is his punishment.

Due to curiosity and boredom, Endo tries to befriend Sasaki and Ishikawa.
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Format: Hardcover
In the novel's plot, three outsiders wind up on Marui-jima, an earthquake-prone island somewhere off the coast of Japan. Jima in Japanese means island. Marui would usually be translated as round, but it could also mean harmonious and calm. This latter meaning is ironic considering the constant earthquakes and the hostile reception that the outsiders receive from the remaining inhabitants of this nearly deserted island, who are mostly elderly people. All the other residents were willingly relocated to the mainland by the government after a particularly strong earthquake caused a lot of damage.

The main character, Jun Endo, is a medical intern who had an unfortunate situation occur with a resident doctor that ended in the death of a patient, and Endo was forced to take the blame. He has been exiled to Marui-jima for four years to serve out his internship.

Aki Ishikawa is a scientist who studies earthquakes and is working on an early detection system in order to help save lives. Nevertheless, the islanders are very suspicious of him and see him as a government man who would like to remove them from their homes.

Mari Sasaki is a filmmaker who is working on a project to film the islander's stories. Even though Aki, the scientist, is ostensibly married (but separated from his wife while working on his project), Mari is a point of romantic interest and tension between the single Endo and Aki. Endo makes some headway with her and is constantly preoccupied by his suspicion that Aki is spying on them.

All three of these characters have secrets that they are not willing to talk about, yet some stories are shared. Mari is the one who seems to have a gift for making people tell their stories, and she shares what she has learned with Endo.
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Format: Hardcover
SUBDUCTION is a story of collision -- of the earth's tectonic plates and of a cluster of residents who refuse to evacuate Marui-jima, a Japanese island increasingly prone to earthquakes.

It's narrated conversationally (and with wry humor) by young physician Jun Endo, who was blamed for a patient's death on the mainland and sentenced to serve the remaining years of his medical residency among the old fishermen on that "dust mote of an island." To Endo's relief, there's also a young male seismologist doing research on the island and a young woman filming a documentary, and the three of them ease into a companionship tinged with competition and paranoia. So goes two-thirds of the book, but it goes slowly until an unexpected death occurs on the island. Then things get interesting in a police-procedural way and stay so until a quick, convenient ending.

The physical book is interesting all along -- smooth (almost glossy) pages, two-thirds of which are text while the other third is abstract Japanese artwork backed by blood-red blank pages and captions. It's beautiful, except the red pages are visually harsh and the art and captions interrupt and frustrate (I couldn't connect them to the story). After the Shimodas' previous Oh!: A mystery of 'mono no aware', this novel was disappointing.

(Review based on a copy of the book provided by the publisher.)
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