Another - Yukito Ayatsuji I grabbed this galley because I was really intrigued by the cover image. I later learned that this was a novel based on a manga, which in turn spawned an anime. I was very curious about the concept, wondering how such a visual format could be translated into a novel. I'm a very visual reader and also a fan of anime and manga, so I was easily able to visualize the characters and setting. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough to make this book interesting to me. Lost in translation is an apt way to describe the experience - though I don't merely mean the translation from Japanese to English. There are elements of culture and events that the non-Japanese person or anime fan will miss unless they spend a bit of time googling, but I didn't find this enough of an issue to deter me. I did, however, feel like the book dragged considerably and I grew increasingly frustrated with the main character, Koichi Sakakibara's attempt to unravel the mystery of Mei Misaki and the strange curse of Class 3 at North Yomi school.

With a mother dead shortly after birth and a father away on business in India, Sakakibara has moved away from Tokyo to the little village of Yomiyama to stay with his mother's family. He is unable to start his third year at his new school due to a genetic lung illness that forces him to miss the first few weeks. When he starts a few days into the month of May, he meets a mysterious girl name Mei Misaki and he is warned about the "North Yomi Fundamentals" - superstitions that apparently exist to prevent the occurrence of untimely accidents. Students at the school are friendly enough, but when Sakakibara tries to broach the subject of Misaki, everyone does their best to dance around the question and Sakakibara's subsequent questions about the curse of Class 3. Then people start dying.... (finally).

Around the time that the first death occurred, I was as frustrated as Sakakibara with the way everyone was avoiding his questions, but more frustrated with the amount of time it was taking for him to figure out the truth of his existence on his own. I admit, I was wrong in my assumption of the obvious, but I was still long bored by the amount of time it took to get to that point. There was a lot of repetition as Sakakibara went over his own circular thoughts and the events and at times, I actually thought I was reading the same page again. Given the length of the book, I could find no reason for it to have taken that long to get to the point and move on to solving the mystery, which I assume happens in volume two.

Believing this was a book based on a manga, it felt very much like descriptions were glossed over in favour of a lot of text, mostly in the form of Sakakibara's tedious thoughts. It failed to give me any sense of mystery and, when the curse started to take effect, it wasn't very shocking. However, upon completion I learned that I was incorrect in my assumption. The bunkobon came first and inspired the manga, followed by the anime and a live-action movie. So while I did not enjoy this book very much, I can see how it could translate into a very interesting story when powerful visuals and music can be used to create the right mood. The idea behind the curse of Class 3 and the way everyone decided to try to fight it was interesting, once we finally got to know what it was all about. But I think I'd much rather learn more in the manga or anime, than by reading the second volume of the original novel.

Review originally published at The BiblioSanctum.