Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: Confessions by Kanae Minato


From Goodreads:
Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge. 
After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.  
But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.  
Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you'll never see coming, Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in harm's way. You'll never look at a classroom the same way again.
Writing
Alternating voices can be hard to get right, as can works in translation, but I consider this one a success on both counts.  I loved how the author used each voice to reveal another layer to the story and the characters.  The translation is also done well - there were a few moments that sounded very American/British and I wondered if the original work was different/less Westernized, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book.  And of course, with any thriller, the most important part is that it keeps me guessing.  This one had me going in circles and the ending left me shocked, just the way I like it.

Entertainment Value
Perfection!  I couldn't put it down and it kept me guessing till the end - what higher praise is there for a dark, twisted thriller?

Overall
Yoko Ogawa's Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales was my first experience with reading Japanese thriller/horror fiction.  While Revenge includes more fantasy elements, Confessions was right up my alley in terms of realistic domestic suspense.  It was absolutely chilling and full of love-to-hate characters.  If you like Gillian Flynn, you really need to explore the world of Japanese thrillers in translation.  It's a genre that I'm going to be really pushing into, given my great experiences with Ogawa and Minato.  I just hope that more of Minato's works will wind up translated - I'm going to be keeping an eye out!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review.

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