I know I started this way back in November, and I was making good progress. But then in mid-December I had until mid-January to write a novella to have it ready for my publisher, Parchment & Plume, so it can come out around February 14. Reading for fun always gets pushed to the side when I’m under a deadline.
But last night, I finally sat down and finished it.
***Spoilers alert below***
The nice thing about this particular story is that a couple of the teens who were forced into the fight to the death (until one survivor remained) beat the system. My favorite character was Shogo Kawada. He had survived the game the previous year, and this gave him an advantage to help out the two main characters (Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa) escape. The reason Kawada was my favorite was because he was willing to risk everything to help these two. I fully expected him to die somehow, and I was right. He did. But this was one case where the death of my favorite character was satisfying (instead of depressing), and I think it was because it was one of the most noble deaths I’ve ever read about.
His death had meaning. He wasn’t one of those sappy “poor me” characters. He knew what he was up against and didn’t break. He saw everything to the end, and he saw it with class. I don’t know how else to explain it than that, but he is probably one of my favorite characters I’ve ever read. He gave up himself for the sake of the two characters–so they could have a future.
This is not a warm and fuzzy book. There is a happy ending for the two main characters. They survive and there’s no doubt they love each other. But there is definitely a lot of sorrow and violence to go through to reach this point. Our main characters never disappointed me. They were good the entire time and acted with dignity. They didn’t sacrifice their values to get to the end. These were characters you could respect the whole way through.
So yeah, the nature of this book isn’t for those who want a warm and fuzzy read. It’s pretty nitty gritty and rough. But I can see why this book was so popular in Japan and why it’s been translated into other languages. I think despite everything, the message is not to give up, to keep on hoping. This is probably a universal theme we have as humans. No matter how bad things get, we like to keep hoping we can somehow make things better by the choices we make, that individual freewill can prevail despite our circumstances.
I’m not sure this all made sense. Kids are off of school today due to the weather, and they’re either buzzing around me or trying to unlock a door they locked on purpose (to see if they could unlock it).
Rami, I’m going to start Snake tonight. 🙂