Friday, October 06, 2017

Another Vol. 1 by Yukito Ayatsuji

When Kouichi Sakakibara's father suddenly gets a job in India, he moves in with his grandparents and aunt in the small mountain town of Yomiyama.  Things get strange at his new school when he
meets a girl named Mei.  A girl the rest of his class doesn't seem to see.

There's a rumor that his class is subject to a deadly curse, but he doesn't take this seriously, befriending the strange girl.  But when his classmates and their relations start to die in mysterious accidents, he begins to wonder if there isn't more to the rumors than he'd originally thought.

The Facts

Author: Yukito Ayatsuji
Genre: Horror
Sub-Genres: Paranormal, Occult, Mystery
Length: 254 pages
Publisher: Yen Press
Date of Publication: March 19, 2013

My Opinion

I really like Another.  I've seen the anime and read the manga, but when I saw they'd translated the light novel into English, I was really stoked.  This is only volume one of two, so I can't judge the second half of the light novel, but so far, it's pretty much what I expected.  The deaths are a little less grisly since this isn't a visual medium, which, in my opinion, is fine.  At this point, I was more interested in mystery aspect of the story, namely, I wanted more details about the school's past and the deadly curse.

One thing about the light novel is that the prose is a little strange.  I'm not sure if this is due to the nature of the translation or the original text since I don't know enough Japanese to try reading the untranslated version.  There's some interesting formatting too.  Important information tends to be presented in bold, so you can't really miss it.  I've never seen this in any other book, but this is the first light novel I've read, so...  Here's an example;

If you haven't seen the anime or read the manga, I won't spoil the ending, but it is awesome.  The beginning of the novel is kind of slow, almost painfully so, because the author repeats important pieces of information multiple times from multiple sources.  Kouichi will find something out from Mei, or the librarian, or someone, only to have an incredibly similar conversation with another classmate, so you get the same clues over again.  On the one hand, this means that it's very hard to miss something important, on the other, you may find yourself impatient for plot progress.  The first half of the story is totally worth the wait though, because the second half really picks up.  The final twist is one of the best I've seen in pretty much any branch of the horror genre.

Should You Read This Book?


Aside from being a great horror story, Another is a really good mystery.  You follow Kouichi through the school year as he slowly unravels the horrible truth about his what's happening to his class, and more importantly, how to stop it.  This is an excellent Japanese horror story as well, which means it's much scarier than any western examples of the genre.

Also, even if you've seen the anime and/or read the manga, the novel does a few things (namely deaths) differently, so there's still a little bit of a surprise to be had.

That being said, the creepiness factor is high.  If you don't think you can handle a lot of high school students dying in fairly gruesome and horrifying ways, you might want to read something else.  Ayatsuji really doesn't pull any punches when it comes to gore.  I wouldn't say Another is as horrific as Koushun Takumi's Battle Royale, but it's up there.

Other Useful Information:

Bechdel Test: Passed
Helpful Tropes: Adult Fear, Anyone Can Die, Bloody Horror, Cruel and Unusual Death, Fake Memories, Magic A is Magic A, The Seven Mysteries, Town With a Dark Secret
Links: Goodreads



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