Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: Confessions by Kanae Minato

Once you finish your milk, put the carton back in the box.  ~ Opening of Confessions


Confessions (Kokuhaku) by Kanae Minato
(translated by Stephen Snyder)
Mulholland Books, 2008
Crime Fiction; 240 pgs

I first heard mention of this book via the publisher's Facebook page. I generally get my recommendations from fellow book bloggers and readers, but occasionally a publisher's announcement will catch my attention like this one did. Confessions by Japanese crime fiction author Kanae Minato sounded perfect for both A More Diverse Universe and the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge.  And while I tend to take comparisons of books to other well known books with a grain of salt (okay, so maybe a shaker full), I was still curious about Confessions when it was compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

I hesitate to post the synopsis of this book because it really is one that is best read with little knowledge of what to expect. But then, even I was surprised having read what the book was about. As a result, my review will be rather vague.

Confessions by Kanae Minato opens with teacher, Yuko Morguchi, lecturing her students, telling them the story about why she has decided to resign, about the death of her four year old daughter, and how she believes it was murder. Each chapter is narrated by a different character, each one providing a new layer to the story.

The characters are not especially likable. In many ways, this book is more like a horror story--seeing just how cruel people, especially the young, can be in certain circumstances.  Even so, I loved this book. If I had any negative thoughts about it, it would be about the ending, but that would be nit-picky and completely a personal preference. Given the nature of the book and its contents, the ending fit. I found the book to be very dark and intense and impossible to put down. At the risk of spoiling anything with a vague statement: the twists were enough to make me say, "Oh my gosh!" a couple times. At least.

Described by some as a book that delves into the subculture of Japanese youth, it really can be applied to American culture as well. The book offers a character study of the dark side of human nature from multiple perspectives, including possible causes. Guilt, jealousy, despair, anger and exhilaration are just a few of the emotions touched upon throughout the novel. The story told in Confessions also demonstrates how one action or thought can lead to another, setting off a chain reaction. For every action, there is a consequence.

This is not a book for everyone. The stark writing style and dark themes will put off some. Still, I found it a fascinating read, one I will not soon forget.

Confessions has been made into a short film, which I would like to see at some point.

Rating: * (Very Good +)

Source: I purchased an e-copy of this book for my own reading pleasure (and realized days later I had a review copy from Netfix.  Go figure.  I guess I really really wanted to read this book!).


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

20 comments:

  1. I've the Chinese translation of this book, but yet to read it. I think it had caused a bit of stir when it was first released, due to the dark theme. Now it has piqued my curiosity again after reading your thoughts. :)

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    1. Melody - I am not surprised it caused a stir--the subject matter is quite disturbing!

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  2. I do like stark writing and am making note of this title. You've made it sound awfully good.

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  3. This sounds interesting. Stark writing tends to appeal to me and getting a look at Japanese youth subculture sounds unique. This may be a library find for me though as it's way outside my norm. Great review!

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    1. Katherine - It's on NetGalley. ;-) I bought my copy from Amazon though for $3.99. Not too bad.

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  4. Whilst I can understand how having a different character narrating each chapter would provide a different perspective I'm not sure it would work for me. Great review, this sounds like a great read if you are wanting something a little bit different.

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    1. Tracy - In some ways, it almost seemed like each chapter was a story in itself and then all the stories connecting together to form a bigger story. I can't imagine her story would have been as effective told any other way.

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    1. Opinions of a Wolf - Thank you! It was very good.

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  6. Oooh, I love dark! It sounds really good, and right up my alley. I have to laugh though because you see soooo many books compared to Gone Girl, or authors that are compared to Tana French or Stieg Larssen. Rarely is that a fair comparison (and who really matches up with those benchmarks?) but I still laugh. That is one way to get us to read a book!

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    1. Sandy - I think you might like this one, Sandy!

      I know what you mean about those book comparisons. It really is a way to sell more books, I'm sure. Over half the time they aren't true. And I wonder if it's partly because our expectations are then so high. I've been disappointed enough not to believe it--but sometimes I am tempted anyway.

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  7. This sounds quite intriguing -- I can't resist dark novels and movies. :-) I'll add it to my list.

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    1. Irene - I thought of you when I read this. :-) I would really like to see the short film of this at some point.

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  8. I *think* Jenny from Reading the End read this one, too. Or, she read some book that was translated and compared to Gone Girl :-) Possibly a Russian one... I might be making all sorts of things up, though.

    I think I need to try more Japanese mystery fiction! I feel like reading a genre that is so universal around the world will lead to some sort of deeper understanding for cultures :-)

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    1. Aarti - I read another crime fiction book set in Japan years ago, but the author was Caucasian, I believe. This was my first experience with Japanese crime fiction--and I definitely want to explore this and other Japanese authors more.

      I really do believe that genre fiction can be a window into other cultures, sometimes in surprising ways.

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  9. Oh, I must check this one out! It looks so different.

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  10. I am certainly intrigued by your review!!! I think that sometime you just have to be in the right frame of mind for a darker read. I am adding this one to my TBR list right now!!!

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    1. Samantha - It was such a good book, but, yes, very dark. I hope you do like it if you read it.

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