Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by Yasutaka Tsutsui

Title: The Girl who leapt through Time
Author: Yasutaka Tsutsui
Published: This edition: 9th May 2011 (UK). First published in Japan in 1967.
Format: Finished Paperback
Pages: 96
RRP: £7.99
Rating: 11/12+

One of Tsutsui’s best-known and most popular works in his native Japan, The Girl Who Leapt through Time is the story of fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Kazuko, who accidentally discovers that she can leap back and forth in time. In her quest to uncover the identity of the mysterious figure that she believes to be responsible for her paranormal abilities, she’ll constantly have to push the boundaries of space and time, and challenge the notions of dream and reality.

I was instantly drawn to this book when I was offered to review it. I am fascinated by Japanese culture, and to read a book by a Japanese author (a popular and renowned one at that) was something I had not actually done before. So, to say I was a bit disappointed is a slight understatement. I really felt that this book, if given the chance and more pages, would have been a whole lot better, because then the characters and plot could have been developed further to become a much better book.

However, that is not to say I did not enjoy it. For the most part, this book was very entertaining to read. You would not think that it was actually first published in 1967 – the ideas are very contemporary. The language seemed somewhat stilted and child-like (even though the book is branded a young adult) but I think the problem was the translation.

Kazuko is the fifteen year old protagonist, and her best friends are Kazuo and Goro, who are boys. Sometimes when I was reading it particularly fast, I would mix up the two names Kazuko and Kazuo, and ultimately confuse myself in the process! I was left a little dumbfounded at the end – it was definitely an ending which seemed rushed – and I feel, if this book was actually left to explore the regions of 200 to 300 pages, it would have been a much more enjoyable read.

When I began to read the other small story included in the book – the 61 page “The Stuff that Nightmares are made of” – I was, again, confused. But then I did realise it was a different story altogether. I felt the theme, or the moral, behind this story was a lot better. Masako is completely terrified of heights and aims to try and face that fear so she can live a normal life, whilst she also helps her little brother face his fears. Although it was a lot shorter, I think the premise behind this novella was better than The Girl who Leapt through Time.

I will definitely have to read more of Tsutsui’s books. I was definitely disappointed by The Girl who Leapt through Time, but the actual quality of writing was good – the translation did slightly ruin moments – and I think reading a book by him which is not a short story will most likely leave me wanting more.

Rating
Plot: 6/10
The only problem I had with it was the fact that the plot (and the entire book) felt rushed.
Writing Quality: 9/10
The writing quality was very good. Unfortunately, sometimes the translation left language a little stilted – leaving the book in the past at times.
Originality: 9/10
It may not be the most original thing now – but it most definitely would have been when it was first published.
Characters: 7/10
If the book was longer, and the characters were given more time to develop so I could get to know them better, the characters would probably get near full marks.
Descriptions: 8/10
There were not many descriptions but I really really loved that it was set in Japan. It was really interesting to read about life then.

39/50 = 78%

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Thank you to Alma Books for providing the review copy.

Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Title: Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance
Author: Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Published: 7th March 2011
Format: Finished Paperback
Pages: 240
RRP: £6.99
Rating: 13+

Teen TV celebrities Jenna and Jonah (real names, Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers) make more money in a month than most people do in a lifetime. They can’t stand to be in the same room as each other, but to boost the TV ratings their agents make them a ‘real life’ couple. Then the deception is uncovered by the paparazzi, and Charlie and Fielding have to disappear to weather the media storm. It’s not until they’re far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realise there’s more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

This is a classic example of the story, boy and girl hate each other, then eventually find out they are perfect for each other (but will they..?). Although, when you are reading the book, it does not seem like a cliche. It is in fact a very original and interesting book.

Jenna and Jonah, also known as Charlie and Fielding, are the starlets of the Disney-esque type TV programme, Jenna and Jonah’s How to be a Rock Star. In the show they are in an “on and off” relationship, in ‘reality’ they are a loved-up couple. That is, to everyone but Jenna, Jonah and their protege. Really, Jenna and Jonah despise each other. For most of the book their witty and quick dialogue is really fun to read – they also have comebacks and insults to throw at each other – and that is one of the strong points of the book.

I really enjoyed reading about Jenna and Jonah’s lives. It was really fascinating to read about what might happen with teen stars behind the scenes, and it really has made me think more about how genuine these couples actually are in real life.

Jenna and Jonah as characters were developed so they were not perfect. I think if they were perfect it would either be beautifully ironic/tongue in cheek or just plain annoying. However, the characters were imperfect. How so? Jenna/Charlie acted like a diva behind the scenes of the show but only because she was so insecure about herself. She felt acting was the only thing ‘interesting’ about her. Fielding feels like he is stuck in a shell – his mum picked out the name Fielding when he was a tween and he is sick of being that person.

Overall, I really loved the characters and their development. I think both writers had a really good writing quality and it was definitely enjoyable to read. Although, I was a little disappointed with the ending. I think, rather than introducing a slightly different plot angle, they could have continued with Jenna and Jonah struggling to live normally as stars once the rumour got out. Nevertheless, my enjoyment was not effected too much!

Rating
Plot: 7/10
The plot took a strange U-turn, but the beginning and middle were really fantastic.
Writing Quality: 9/10
Both Franklin and Halpin had great quality of writing.
Originality: 9/10
This was definitely original – I really want to read more books like this!
Characters: 9/10
The characters were loveable (eventually) and had a lot of depth.
Descriptions: 8/10
Another one of the strong points of the book – essential for my own enjoyment of a book 🙂

42/50 = 84%

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Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing the review copy.

I’ve not vanished off the face of the earth – I’m just a procrastinator

Hey readers! (if there are any)

I’ve been on a sort of writers block. I have been reading books, I am just not motivated to actually review them. This is a problem as over to the right, you can see the list of books I need to review. For quite a few of them, I read them back in February/March. That’s not particularly good, as now I can hardly remember what actually happened in some of them. Thus, I will probably have to re-read them. The woe!

But, I had a revelation, an epiphany!

This summer will be the summer I will banish procrastination, starting TODAY.

In fact, I feel so full of motivation and enthusiasm, I have actually thought of an EVENT! I will be speaking around twitter and gathering support for it. I think it should last a few days and incorporate many things…

This entire post is a big clue to what I hope to do. I may not do it, though. I’ve got other, more important things to do, like watching films online.

PS ~ Did I use too much bold text?