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Earthlings

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  4,287 ratings  ·  1,186 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, 247 pages
Published October 1st 2020 by Granta Books (first published August 31st 2018)
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Miriam I absolutely believe a teen could handle this book, and I also generally believe that teens should read whatever they want. That being said, this book…moreI absolutely believe a teen could handle this book, and I also generally believe that teens should read whatever they want. That being said, this book does have some heavy content, including a somewhat detailed depiction of a child being sexually abused. Also cannibalism. (less)
Smasher It's standalone. Very different to Convenience Store Woman, apart from perhaps some general themes.…moreIt's standalone. Very different to Convenience Store Woman, apart from perhaps some general themes.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  4,287 ratings  ·  1,186 reviews


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Meike
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2020-read
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
Tim
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese, reviewed, 2010s
Well, I just read two extreme horror novels. Time for a break. Something light-hearted, something silly... what's this? A Japanese novel about a woman who thinks she's an alien and with a cute cover? No doubt this will be a light comedic read.

...

Ha.
Ha.
Ha.

No, no it was not. This review is going to be mostly covered in a spoiler tag, but let me stress this to would be readers. This is the single most uncomfortable read I've had all year (and this has been a year filled with mostly horror novels fo
...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
Henk
Dec 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Don’t let the cute cover fool you. This is a deadpan account of trauma, sexual abuse, the stifling nature of conformity and breaking taboos to try and set oneself free from a limiting definition of being human
Children’s lives never belong to them. The grownups own us.

I liked the first part of this book markedly more than the latter. The perspective of a young person being forced into a mould and to be “normal” really was portrayed in a way that I thought had emotional impact. That Japanese socie
...more
Debbie
You want crazy? I’ll give you crazy!

This is the most bizarre and unique book I’ve ever read, hands down. Going into this, Geek Love held the title of Weirdest Book Ever, but this book knocked that one off the shelf and stands proudly in its place. Everything in this book is OVER THE TOP (yes, in all caps)! This is just what I needed in a time when our country is over the top in so many ways. Everything in your face, a big deal, all exclamation marks. So why not escape into a book that takes me
...more
Elyse  Walters
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sayaka Murata’s “Convenience Store For Women”, was a contemporary unique-charming debut —-with a thirty-ish woman [Keiko]—who didn’t feel as if she ‘fit-in’....
In “The Earthlings”, Natsuki, doesn’t feel she ‘fits-in’, either. As a child — her parents favored her sister, Kise.
She also suffered abuse -(sexual abuse by her math teacher), plus mockery & humiliation from the community ( who Natsuki refers to as ‘The Baby Factory’).
Her best friend was a toy hedgehog named Piyyut.....who explained he
...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
Ms. Smartarse
Published in English as Earthlings.

Natsuki's been leading a double life: regular middle-schooler by day, extraordinary magical (alien) girl by night. Not an easy balance to keep, but our heroine handles it like a champ. It helps to keep in mind, that the mother ship would be picking her up any time now...

The one bright spot amid these trials, are the family's yearly get-togethers. Set in the grandparents' house in the countryside, Natsuki looks forward to taking refuge in the mysterious silkworm
...more
s.penkevich
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, society
Survive, whatever it takes.

The reward for conformity,’ wrote author Rita Mae Brown, ‘is that everyone like you but yourself.’ The alienation that comes from an inability or distaste for conforming with society is heart and center in the works of Sayaka Murata. Revisiting and revitalizing many themes addressed in her brilliant, previous novel Convenience Store Woman--which hit English-speaking shelves in 2018 translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori--Murata’s newest novel, Earthlings goes further i
...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
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
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
Pedro
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: group-reads
Don’t be misled by the kind of cute little (short-eared) Mogwai on the cover because if you ever decide to open this book what you’re going to find inside it can only be described as a Gremlin.

This novel starts like a light YA novel but very quickly evolves into a nightmare.

The writing is deceptively simple with a dreamlike quality to it and the narrator’s (young) voice very relatable.

As I said, it didn’t take long before I realised this wasn’t going to be what the cute cover suggested. In a
...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
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
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
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
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
Ecem Yücel
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the weirdest books I've ever read. During the first few chapters, the things the protagonist goes through enraged me so much that after reading for an hour or two, I realized I was grabbing my kindle very tightly. Yet toward the end of the book, things escalate quickly and in a very abstract way that at some point, along with the characters, the emotional detachment, "the alien eye" affected me too, which means this book really was an emotional roller coaster for me.

The novel is a heavy c
...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
Bhaskar
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Any organization, rational/irrational, reasonable/unreasonable, barbaric/civilized, establish and follow some sort of propriety. Be it a particular society, religion, community, nation or family, these proprieties are fundamentally based on hypotheticals. They might be the best, fairest or most necessary for that group at that time. One feature of hypotheticals are that you can stretch them, extrapolate. And these extrapolation could lead us to very confusing extremities, where we might encounte ...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
Melanie
Aug 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
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.
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. ...more
Matthew
Well that was.... unexpected. And one-of-a-kind. I'm not exactly sure how in the world to rate this book, or what it means, but it is certainly a master-class in how to control tone as a writer. ...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
Ieva Andriuskeviciene
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
What an actual F did I just read?!
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1,575 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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