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
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.
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.
It may not be the most original thing now – but it most definitely would have been when it was first published.
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.
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%
Thank you to Alma Books for providing the review copy.