"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

30 December 2014

2014 Book Review #45: nip the buds, shoot the kids

Oh my.

Yes, I just posted, before this one, a book review.  I'm on Christmas vacation from the school district I work in and have had lots of good reading time in the early mornings and late nights.  

This book was read by my oldest daughter, Courtney, for the Nobel Prize in Literature course she took last year at Gordon College.  (how fun....to take a literature class of all the "best" works!).  She thought I would enjoy this.  It took me a while to pick it up, much to her annoyance, because all summer I was enjoying books from the town library or from my dad. I promised her (even though I have 2 library books waiting for me in my tote) that I would read this before she goes back to campus.  It only took me a day and an evening to read it.  It's a thin book but packed with some deep stuff.  It won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994.


It is World War II time in Japan.

Fifteen teenage boys, all from reformatory school, have been evacuated to a tiny village in the mountains where they are verbally and physically abused by the local peasant people because those people fear them.  When a plague breaks out, the villagers flee their homes, leaving the boys to fend for themselves among dead animals, a dead old woman, and a sickly young girl.  They discover a Korean boy in a part of the settlement, who has also been abandoned by his people.  The only adult around is an army deserter who stumbles into the village and begins to help the boys to some degree.  The entire village has been barricaded...there is no escape for the boys.

The group begin to build lives of self-respect, and love for each other as well as a sense of "tribal valor".  But these things are shattered amidst the realities of war and the nightmare of death.

and then the villagers come back...............


Right away, before really finishing chapter 1, I told my daughter the story reminded me a little bit of The Lord of the Flies. (remember having to read that way back in junior high school??)

It is a little bit depressing, yet a real page-turner.  The reader gets pulled in and you find yourself rooting for the narrator (the main boy) and his little brother.  There was a character who bugged me......his name is Minamu and the author created him to be a homosexual.  That was the only part of the book I didn't care for.

It's a raw story and I don't know if I have the exact words to convey my feelings.  It's a little bit dystopian yet also kind of realistic given the nighmarish aspects of war and abandonment.

It's an allegory;  it shows how cruel people can be to those who are different.

I found out from some research that the Japanese author wrote it when he was 23 years old and it was his first novel!  Can you imagine a first novel getting awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature??

So, yes, it's brilliant.....painfully real, painfully imagined....but brilliant in the literary sense.

It is full of emotion. I love that!

I was sad to read the ending of the beloved boy being forced into the woods...being abandoned yet again....to meet his fate.  WHY do the returning villagers force him to leave?? Because the boy (we never learn his name...he is the narrator of the story) is the only boy who refuses to keep silent about what the villagers did to them.

Will he survive??

I like to think YES! 

Read it to draw your own  conclusions.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (although mature readers of a younger age could handle the language...the content is another matter!)

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.

and now because of the intensity of this story, I am starting a novel that is purely fluff and fun.


Susanne said...

Wow, you're on a reading streak! I have several books I finished that didn't get reviewed just because of time and computer issues and now I have to really think what they were about and what I thought about them. Sigh. I many just skip reviewing those and start fresh for the new year.

Simply Linda said...

I will have to add it to my growing list..do you know, I have not picked up one book since I have been on 'vacation'--sad to say. Thanks for review...Blessings