Aaron's Reviews > Real World

Real World by Natsuo Kirino
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Feb 11, 2009

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Set in Japan not far from Tokyo, this import (translated by Philip Gabriel) presents Worm, a teen who has killed his mother after years of unhappiness. Interestingly, the story is presented not only by Worm, but also by four friends who seem to be drawn into the resulting confusion of the murder because Worm has stolen the bike and cell phone of one of them.

Each of the narrators, interestingly, seems to have his or her own troubles with their mother. Toshiko, who goes by the alias Ninna Hori when she wants to protect her identity, is Worm's neighbor. She and her mother argue constantly, and one of the reasons is over her interest in the new neighbors.

Yuzan, Kirarin, and Terauchi, are friends of Toshiko's and they seem drawn to worm because they both pity and want to help him. In fact, one even ends up running away to help him. One lost her mother to illness while another is also different from her mother.

The characters are richly drawn and full developed, giving the reader an opportunity to explore subplots such as a lesbian coming into her own, one girl still recovering from the fact that her best friend and boyfriend has come out as gay, and a third just has terrible home issues.

I do have to admit that I had a hard time with this one. In the book's defense, I tend to struggle with tales when all of the characters are despicable. I want at least one person who can be considered good and give a little bit of hope. That was one of the reasons I was never able to get into The Sopranos. They were all scum bags.

I also had quite a bit of trouble with the really bad decision making process found in the kids. On some level, each of the narrators seems to almost idolize Worm for what he did. Like he did what the always hoped they could have done with someone who treated them badly. They then all go on to abet the crime after the fact on different levels.

Finally, the translation has more than a few moments when the writing becomes awkward. I don't want to say that the results are confusing, but they are awkward. It really slowed down my reading pace because I had to focus in order to not get lost in the "I did this ... I did that" repetitive patterns the translator uses as he lets each character tell his or her tale.
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