The way I rate books is very simple. If I finish a book in one day, its good (probably three stars and above out of five stars). If I even think to finish a book in one day but can’t, its still considered good. Anything else is bad.
It took me three days spread over a week to complete Out by Natsuo Kirino. Bad.
The plot line was interesting enough to lure me. However, there were too many characters with too many backstories. The story development was messy. The character development was even messier.
There is Masako Katori who for some reason appears frightening to her colleagues/friends. Why? That is the character setting, accept it and move on. She remains stoic, clear headed and sharp almost throughout the story. I thought she was progressing from logical to logically psychotic to crazy which would have been interesting had it not been for that ending. She seems to be the main focus of this story.
The other characters had some painfully realistic aspects to them. There is Kuniko Jonouchi who is obsessed with purchasing the latest designer goods even when she is knee deep in debts. Yoshie Azuma, a single mother who has to take care of an invalid mother-in-law as well as a teenage daughter. Then there is Yayoi Yamamoto who is being abused by her husband.
Honestly, I felt like this book could have been so much more however, the ping pong between one character’s point of view to the next destroyed the possibility. In total, I think, there was about eight point of views–doesn’t matter that some of the point of views were short and did not last long.
I was reading through the reviews on goodreads to understand why people who liked the book liked the book instead I came across a review that was pretty spot on. If you want to read it, its here.
Goodreads Insert: Natsuo Kirino’s novel tells a story of random violence in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works a night shift making boxed lunches brutally strangles her deadbeat husband and then seeks the help of her co-workers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime.
The ringleader of this cover-up, Masako Katori, emerges as the emotional heart of Out and as one of the shrewdest, most clear-eyed creations in recent fiction. Masako’s own search for a way out of the straitjacket of a dead-end life leads her, too, to take drastic action.
The complex yet riveting narrative seamlessly combines a convincing glimpse into the grimy world of Japan’s yakuza with a brilliant portrayal of the psychology of a violent crime and the ensuing game of cat-and-mouse between seasoned detectives and a group of determined but inexperienced criminals. Kirino has mastered a Thelma and Louise kind of graveyard humor than illuminators her stunning evocation of the pressures and prejudices that drive women to extreme deeds and the friendship that bolsters them in the aftermath (honestly, I couldn’t sense any friendship before or after the deed).
Published 30 September 2004