Zaregoto, bk. 1: The Kubikiri Cycle: A Horribly Late Review of Trivial Consequence

So I’ve had a copy of Zaregoto book 1 since it came out (in August), and carried it around in my everpresent man-purse messenger bag, but, despite it being in said bag-like entity, it was not being read because there were other things in there, like other novels and a collection of short stories by Saki that I should really read more of before I have to return it to the wild library and various textbooks that see far more use than anything else in said cloth carrying device. So my actual copy looks more well-read than it might seem for a book I read over about three days, but definitely much less well-read than my original mass-market edition from ten years ago of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which I think still exists, but its cover is currently held together with Scotch tape and a prayer. Possibly missing the Scotch tape.

Why am I telling you all that? I have no idea.

I actually managed to read Zaregoto last week, in the process rediscovering what absolute fun it is to shut off all electronic devices in a room, save for a small lamp by the bed, and stick my nose in a book for a few hours, oblivious to the passage of time. That particular revelation (re-revelation?) might color my reading experience, but probably less than the fact that after reading the book my brain oozed out onto the floor and had to expend some effort reconstituting itself inside my skull, since this was my first experience reading Nisioisin. I still can’t hear the word “genius” without cringing. That sentence pained me to write.

I’ve always held a peculiar fondness for the older-style mystery novels, so it’s just as well that Zaregoto struck me in much the same way, owing partially to its similiarity to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None… (which I have not read yet, but it is sitting here, waiting) in the sense that the characters are called to a remote island whereupon murders are committed upon the hapless and badly confused guests until someone figures them out and off they go. It even has the obvious-only-in-retrospect ending that delights me so!

Only one thing really bugs me, but only in a pet peevish way: the third protagonist of the series, Aikawa Jun, delivers the final final solution for the events of the book, despite not having been in the book at all until that point. As a set-up for the next novel (where Ii-chan, Kisa, and Jun work as a unit, because three is better than one), it works, and it’s not wholly terrible, it just robs me of my Sherlock Holmes-esque thrill. Of course, then again, as a nine-novel sequence, perhaps we could also see some character development in Ii-chan, who is one of those first-person narrators who, although omnipresent throughout the reading experience, doesn’t seem to have much of a personality–a fact alluded to by several characters throughout the book, making it a plot point of sorts.

Me, mostly I’m just impressed that Nisioisin managed to turn out a solidly written title as his debut novel at age 20. Take that, Christopher Paolini. The other good thing about reading Zaregoto is that it’s left me with a sore hankering for mystery, which I am filling by re-reading The Westing Game for the first time since I was a kid (it’s still really hard to figure out, even though I know the solution already, because the entire book is a distration for the solution–strangely enough, a bit like Zaregoto in some ways). What monsters hath an open book released, indeed.

(Did I make the obligatory “Zaregoto is pretty heavy for a light novel” joke yet? Consider it made)

SOME OTHER REVIEWS THAT PROBABLY SAY IN MORE (OR FEWER) WORDS WHAT I SAID ABOVE:
Demian has fun reading the book, even though it doesn’t have the word Abraxas in it at all.
DiGiKerot says, uh, what I just said. Possibly better, depending on one’s point of view about such things, but without an amusing yet vague glimpse into some of the deranged workings of my life, which probably makes it better.
astrange is mysteriously vague about what he thinks about the novel in a one-line review in a mostly irrelevant post, no doubt brought on by the fact that he’s read entirely too much Haruki Murakami.

4 Responses to “Zaregoto, bk. 1: The Kubikiri Cycle: A Horribly Late Review of Trivial Consequence”


  1. 1 astrange 9 November 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Murakami is pretty much writing English in Japanese anyway. He does have apathetic main characters (which is kinda what I was complaining about) but doesn’t have the same writing problems as Kino/Kubikiri/Boogiepop, which all have the minimum number of adjectives or setting details the author can get away with. Zaregoto wasn’t nearly as bad about it though, and his comic with the same theme at the end of Faust was nice. I should really review Faust, but I don’t want to blog entirely about written stuff…

  2. 2 OGT 9 November 2008 at 10:20 pm

    @astrange: Yeah, Murakami is pretty much an English author these days–he sells more in America. He’ll probably teach himself English and just cut out the translation middleman one of these days.
    .
    I think the “minimal adjectives/setting details” is just one of those light novel things. The focus in Zaregoto was quite markedly on the characters and the events thereof rather than the setting. Besides, you don’t want to read a Japanese Robert Jordan. You really don’t.

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  1. 1 Omonomono » Zaregoto and A Certain Japanese Novel Trackback on 16 February 2009 at 9:22 pm

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