Publisher: Melville House
Release Date: May 3rd, 2011
Genre: Adult Contemporary
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A major literary sensation is back with a quietly stunning tour de force about a young woman who falls for a cult escapee.
While The Lake shows off many of the features that have made Banana Yoshimoto famous—a cast of vivid and quirky characters, simple yet nuanced prose, a tight plot with an upbeat pace—it’s also one of the most darkly mysterious books she’s ever written.
It tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. She finds herself spending too much time staring out her window, though … until she realizes she’s gotten used to seeing a young man across the street staring out his window, too.
They eventually embark on a hesitant romance, until she learns that he has been the victim of some form of childhood trauma. Visiting two of his friends who live a monastic life beside a beautiful lake, she begins to piece together a series of clues that lead her to suspect his experience may have had something to do with a bizarre religious cult. . . .
With its echoes of the infamous, real-life Aum Shinrikyo cult (the group that released poison gas in the Tokyo subway system), The Lake unfolds as the most powerful novel Banana Yoshimoto has written. And as the two young lovers overcome their troubled past to discover hope in the beautiful solitude of the lake in the country- side, it’s also one of her most moving.
Alright..this is another review I have been dreading, truthfully because I don’t have a lot to say. And it’s hard, because I hate when that happens. I feel like I’m doing the author a disservice. But here’s the thing. This was a fairly short novel and to me it read more like a short story. Which would have been fine if I had been prepared for that going in. But I wasn’t. This also the first Yoshimoto I have ever read and I did like it, but not as much as I thought I would. I’m going to try and articulate why.
I like a certain amount of detail in my reading and I felt like that was lacking in The Lake. There were hardly any place descriptions and it was very hard to picture exactly what was going on. I know that doesn’t matter to some people, but it matters to me.
I also felt that there was an emotional disconnect. I didn’t particularly care what happened to the characters, especially Nikajima, who I think the author intended me to have a lot of sympathy for. I just felt a complete lack of emotion for anything that was going on, and I found that to be a shame because the story had a great deal of potential.
The idea of the plot and the summary of the story really drew me in and was what initially made me want to read the book. It sounded a bit scary and mysterious. Plus the cover is absolutely mesmerizing. I wish it had been as good as i thought it was going to be.
The reason why I gave it three stars? I really enjoyed the writing style. I just wish it had been a little more detailed. She really does write beautifully. It’s a very simple writing style, but manages to be quite poetic. And like I said, I really loved the plotline. I just feel the story would have been so much more if I felt emotionally invested in the characters, even if it was just a little bit.
I am very interested in reading another Banana Yoshimoto though, and I have added a few of her books to my TBR list. Maybe I will have better luck with another book. I hope so, because I really appreciate what she was trying to do here.