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Earthlings

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  887 ratings  ·  389 reviews
Natsuki isn't like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what. ...more
Hardcover, UK edition, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2020 by Granta Books (first published August 31st 2018)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  887 ratings  ·  389 reviews


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Meike
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read, japan
English Edition: Earthlings
The follow-up to Convenience Store Woman is absolutely outrageous: Rebellion, misogyny, hikikomori, incest, murder, cannibalism - Murata takes no prisoners. And have I mentioned that the whole story is a parable on modern society AND a dark fairy tale full of twists and turns that will lure you into a dark room and beat you to death with a trophy (don't ask)? Don't let yourself be fooled by that cute cover, it's aiming to point you in the wrong direction so the ultimat
...more
Robin
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aliens
Recommended to Robin by: lark benobi
This book is off the hook.

If I try to explain what happens in the plot, I will sound insane. And it is. The plot is outrageous and over the top - the oppression, the abuse, and then the equally shocking response to it. It's wild, fearless, and what makes it even stranger is that it's told in this completely simple, straightforward, conversational tone. It draws you in, with the ease of a YA novel. You almost think, hey, this is about 11 year old kids. I'm not that interested. But don't be fooled
...more
lark benobi
I am so moved by this novel. It's entirely unique and yet it flows mysteriously in the same mighty river of fiction that has sprung up in these last years, written by women from all over the world, who are suddenly writing in a fierce and visceral and entirely ruthless way about what it means to be a woman.

This novel is outrageous and funny in some parts, and it's outrageous and heartbreaking in others. I never knew what to expect, but then, every time the unexpected happened on the page, I tho
...more
Marchpane
‘It’s really hard to put into words things that are just a little bit not okay.’

Earthlings. Where to start with this book? Tonally, it is all over the place. At times it reads with such naivete and simple language it could be a children’s book. But then it turns dark. VERY dark.

There are (warning!) explicit scenes of child sexual abuse described in first person from the child’s POV. There are eruptions of surreal violence and gore. Things get... weird.

In its calmer, more realist moments, thi
...more
Sam Quixote
Apr 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Sayaka Murata’s back with another story of a social outsider - and it’s even worse than Convenience Store Woman!

Natsuki is a little girl that gets physically and verbally abused by her horrible mother, sexually abused by her teacher and, after a bout of incest, attempts suicide - guys, you’ll never believe it but somehow she turns out to be a complete mess of an adult!

Yeah I didn’t like Earthlings at all. A lot of the gross scenes felt gratuitously described to little or no effect (beyond the
...more
Emily B
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up.

This novel is super odd to say the least! If you’re looking for something a bit different then give this a try.

I loved how unique it was, although I have to say I did find the abuse parts particularly hard to read, more so than other books actually. Something about it hit a nerve for me.

Overall, I enjoyed it but didn’t find myself completely hooked, instead I was able to make my way through it over a couple of days, despite it being a relatively short book.
Fran
Oct 18, 2020 rated it liked it
"Piyyut had taught me the magical power of invisibility. I didn't actually become invisible. I just held my breath and could make myself go unnoticed".

Natsuki's best friend was a stuffed animal, a white hedgehog she named Piyyut. Piyyut "couldn't speak human" but had given Natsuki magical powers. Yearly, Natsuki's extended family met up in the Akishina Mountains during the Obon Festival. Natsuki and her cousin Yuu shared their most intimate secrets. She spoke about the Planet Popinpobopia. Yuu s
...more
Anna Luce
“The person who had given birth to me said I was a dead loss, so I decided it really must be true.”


A few days before reading Earthlings I read Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman and I really loved its humour and eccentric narrator. So, perhaps I approached Earthlings with the wrong expectations. Or maybe I was fooled by its cute cover (I mean, just look at that hedgehog!). Fact is, Earthlings is an altogether different beast to Murata's previous novel. I can say, without the shadow of a do
...more
Sara
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
ARC received in exchange foor an honest review.

Having previously read Murata's Convenience Store Woman, I knew that this would be odd. What I wasn't expecting was a whole host of weird, coupled with incest, cannibalism and child abuse.

Honestly, I'm not sure where to start (or indeed finish) with this. The writing is very simplistic, and there isn't really much of a plot other than Natsuki trying to cope with her awful childhood by re imagining a world where she has magical powers and is in fact
...more
Ms. Smartarse
To be published in English as Earthlings.

If someone were to choose a soundtrack for this book, they should go for Lindsey Stirling's Phantom of The Opera, a.k.a. Vanya's violin solo from ep 1 of the Umbrella Academy.
But with a twist: a bonus minute of some hardcore, heavy-metal grunting at the very end.

boom

Because let me tell you... actually never mind, that's all I can say for now.
But please do check back again mid-June, after the book gets published.

ARC kindly provided by Aufbau Verlag and NetGa
...more
Eric Anderson
Aug 13, 2020 rated it liked it
When “Convenience Store Woman”, Sayaka Murata's first novel to be translated into English was published a couple of years ago it became a cult hit with many enthusiastic fans (including me!) She was already a well-established writer in Japan having published ten books and won multiple prominent literary awards. Now more of her books are being translated into English including “Earthlings” which explores a lot of this author’s familiar themes such as alienation and societal pressures but the stor ...more
L.S. Popovich
Earthling is a very absorbing and unconventional coming-of-age story. It is told from the perspective of an eleven year-old girl and then shifts to later in her life. Broken up into two perspectives, they are both profoundly effective and deeply disturbing. I found the novel to be an exploration of the rippling effect of abuse in myriad forms, and includes many outlying themes centered around social isolation, regret, misplaced love, and subtle questions of what it means to be human. The themes ...more
The Artisan Geek


26/1/20
What a story! I got a limited edition ARC, because I'll be doing something fun with the publisher, so I can't really say anything about the contents of the book - will do in the future! :)

25/1/20
Granta was so so kind to gift me a copy of this book! I'll be reading it today :)

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
...more
Blair
(3.5) Most readers approaching Earthlings will do so having read, or at least heard of, Sayaka Murata's English-language debut Convenience Store Woman. At first glance, the two novels seem to have a lot in common. They both centre on a woman who doesn't conform, learns how to pantomime normal human behaviour by imitating others, and feigns a relationship to save face. But while Convenience Store Woman can be read as the story of a misfit defiantly embracing what makes her happy, Earthlings depic ...more
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
There's a lot going on with just the first few chapters. There are a lot of characters which get introduced, a lot of good and not-so-good things happening in the life of Natsuki.
I would say it's a coming of age fiction where it depicts sexual abuse/molestation by a male teacher, a mother who appears to be downright disappointed in her daughter and rather abusive on a constant basis, a close male cousin who is supposedly to be the secret boyfriend/husband. So many things are not handled properl
...more
Kate
Sep 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
1/5stars

((Dropped from a 2 to a 1 Star after a few weeks consideration))

**Arc received from NetGalley - thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this ARC!

Okay so... this was a bit... too much.

I read "The Convenience Store Woman" last year and really enjoyed it. I was prepared (and excited!) for this book to be weird... but it went a little too far in my opinion.

This book had some really good conversations - such as autonomy of one's own body and life, a lot of commentary on women's
...more
Paul Fulcher
Jun 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley, 2020
After the wonderful Convenience Store Woman from the same author/translator this was a relative disappointment, albeit still a very quick and addictive read.

In Convenience Store Woman, Keiko struggled to fit in to conventional life or to understand other people - here Natsuki literally believes she is an alien. When the novel opens, with her age 11 she tells us:

I hadn’t told my family, but I was a magician, a real one with actual magical powers. I’d met Piyyut in the supermarket by the station
...more
Alexander Peterhans
Not so subtle critique of the patriarchal, misogynist side of Japanese society (easily transposable to Western society, btw), where society-driven depersonalisation leads to the creation of twisted, alien psychology.

The book tells the story of Natsuke, a young Japanese girl, who is convinced she is an alien from another planet, trying desperately to become an Earthling. Her mother is horrible to her, her sister is not much better. She has a teacher who everyone adores, who abuses her sexually. T
...more
Nadine
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hello Kitty has gone dark. I loved the bright blithe spirit of Keiko, the heroine of the author's previous book, Convenience Store Woman. This book takes that same spirit, subjects it to childhood trauma and awful parenting, and gives us a new heroine, Natsuko - a woman like no other I've met in fiction. Natsuko is the concoction that results from throwing female compliance into a blender with Sci Fi, satire, and a dash of the movie 'Parasite'. The cover couldn't be more perfect.

Thanks to Netgal
...more
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
I feel the need to bleach my brain. I wish there was an indication in the blurb about just how vicious the abuse - both sexual and psychological- of the primary school/teenager is. I read on because I felt I needed to know if she was going to be ok, when I know better. Why did I not DNF? I don’t even know that myself.
Sarah
Like many readers I really enjoyed Convenience Store Woman when I read it back in 2018, finding it a refreshingly deep but accessible read about gender conformity in present day Japan. So I was excited to hear that this author had a new novel coming out, and from the cover it looked like a kind of cute and quirky read: space and plush hedgehogs! That said, early reviews had me prepared that this was going to be a bit more peculiar than the former novel... but this was weird, unsettling and then ...more
Lotte
It's been quite some time since the ending of a book made me go "What the fuck did I just read??", but this one did it for me. Ummm.. I need to process this.
Sheena
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
Earthlings is one of the weirdest books I have read in awhile, if not ever. I didn't know what to expect from this but judging off the cover I thought this was be cute and breezy, maybe a little quirky but I was SO wrong. There are so many weird turns and disturbing events. I didn't hate it because it was a fast read and it kept going into a different direction that you didn't really know what to expect. I'm not going to explain what happens because I think that's part of the experience if you d ...more
Matthew
Oct 17, 2020 rated it liked it
My child has reached the point in her life in which imagination has all but taken over. Being an only child in midst of a global pandemic this has been perpetuated; I can hardly keep up with her cast of imaginary friends, let alone the multiple guises she takes on each and every day. Just as I’m getting used to Cecilia’s grand transformation from my daughter to Maleficent, she’s already moved on to becoming Anna from Frozen. Or Elsa. Never Olaf.

Such vivid imagination hardly comes as much of a s
...more
Ian Josh
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow

Simply, wow!

I’ll write a full review on my blog, but here I’ll say this, read this with as little foreknowledge as possible. Expect everything and nothing.

I found hints of H. Murakami and R. Murakami, but maybe oddest of all, in what in some senses is a YA novel of sorts (is it?) I was reminded a bit of Tarantino.

Absolutely worthy reading, short and quick and full of true surprises, set up so wonderfully you will never know when you reach the real surprise.

This is the kind of book I want to
...more
Katie Lumsden
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Maybe 3.5. I really don't know what I felt about this book – it's like nothing I've ever read before!
Kate
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It made me want to throw up I loved it
Lou
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a child, Natsuki doesn’t fit into her family. Her parents favour her sister, and her best friend is a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut who has explained to her that he has come from the planet Popinpobopia on a special quest to help her save the Earth. Each summer, Natsuki counts down the days until her family drives into the mountains of Nagano to visit her grandparents in their wooden house in the forest, a place that couldn’t be more different from her grey commuter town. One summer, her co ...more
Samantha
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Full, pretty incoherent review, written from a budget hotel room on my tablet as I'm currently visiting family but in a socially distanced way...

This is the oddest book I have ever read. At times it left me baffled and disturbed. Trigger warning for some scenes of child sexual abuse, incest and murder. At the same time it's magical and left me with a major book hangover when I finished. I finished it on my lunch break at work and genuinely struggled to concentrate for the rest of the afternoon b
...more
Jessica Woodbury
Readers who are looking for the charms of CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN will probably be baffled by Murata's second novel translated into English. While at first they sound similar, following two women who are outcasts from society who no one else in their life understands, they are drastically different. Especially because EARTHLINGS has a much darker subject matter and overall tone. If you read a lot of Japanese fiction in translation, I don't think much here will surprise you, but if CSW was your f ...more
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1,241 followers
Sayaka Murata (in Japanese, 村田 沙耶香) is one of the most exciting up-and-coming writers in Japan today. She herself still works part time in a convenience store, which gave her the inspiration to write Convenience Store Woman (Conbini Ningen). She debuted in 2003 with Junyu (Breastfeeding), which won the Gunzo Prize for new writers. In 2009 she won the Noma Prize for New Writers with Gin iro no uta ...more

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