Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

earthlingsWTF was that? What did I just finish reading? While I’m already accustomed to the strangeness or peculiarity or otherness of Japanese novels, Earthlings left me confused, uncertain, vexed? The blurb was misleading because this book is dark.

Earthlings is the story of Natsuki who we meet as a child and thinks she is not from planet Earth. She struggles to fit it and she only has her cousin, Yuu, who understands her, who also thinks he himself is an alien. Natsuki was a victim of child abuse. She was punished when caught she slept with her cousin, Yuu. Fast forward to when Natsuki was now an adult, she married Tomoya, whom she met online, who was not interested in sex and romance. He just wanted to marry to stop his family from pressuring him to do so. Soon enough, they convinced themselves that they were both aliens and that humans were all brain-washed by the “society.”

This is a book where you can find every trigger you can ask for. From murder to mental illness to cannibalism, abuse (child, physical, mental, sexual), sibling rivalry, trauma, societal pressures, etc.

I’m not sure what to say as the book ended. I felt the book kind of lost the plot and just turned into madness. Maybe I should reread the book to make more sense of it as a whole? NO. This is a weird book. Haunting, Unnerving. It’s dark, tragic. Some find it funny but no, it’s not. It’s challenging to rate this novel because I was engrossed but I was also not really enjoying it. I didn’t really dislike this book, I liked the first part but as the weirdness grew, the enjoyment was lost.

Quotable Quotes:

“Survive, whatever it takes.”

“What I’m really scared of is believing the words society makes me speak are my own.”

Family is hard work,” I thought.”

Would I ever be able to live without constantly trying to survive?”

He’s my partner, but that doesn’t mean we’re friends.”

Rating: 2.5/5 stars


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

S-5 coverSlaughterhouse-Five belongs to my shelf of complex books. It was difficult reading it when I started so I had to condition my mind for it. I later find it more confusing as it jumps back and forth in time. The concept of time-travel isn’t new to me but it confused me just the same. So I tried to read it slower than my usual pace when reading and went back to a few pages now and then or re-read passages several times over until I somehow fully understand (or thought understand).

The book depicts the story of the bombing of Dresden in World War II. The idea to write this antiwar book came partly from Vonnegut’s experiences during the war. Both the first and last chapters were written from Vonnegut’s perspective.

The story’s protagonist is Billy Pilgrim. He was taken as a prisoner of war in World War II and his life back as a civilian was shaped by post-traumatic stress disorder. He experiences flashbacks of the war and suffers from hallucinations as well so he was sent to a mental institution for some time for he was certain he was abducted by aliens where talks of free will came up.

The bombing of Dresden created a firestorm that destroyed a huge part of the city and killed thousands. Historians though, found it hard to recount the horrors that happened so the author created a fictional narrative to help and understand what took place.

Vonnegut is a great writer and Slaughterhouse-Five is an interesting book. Satirical, sad, poignant, disturbing at times. It isn’t something I’d read for pleasure and I’m actually not a fan of sci-fi books but it is a story about war, a topic I like reading the most. Whether a just war is possible or not, it is heartbreaking to know its effects to human condition.

Quotable Quotes:

“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”

“How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.”

“That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.”

“It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.”

“If I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m grateful that so many of those moments are nice.”

Rating: 4/5 stars




Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The first time I started reading Station Eleven, I closed and returned it back to my shelf when I reached page 3. I tried it again a few days back and I’m glad I persisted.

The story loops around the past and the present and then back again. The very skillful plotting of Station Eleven gave way to knowing each character more and what the characters think of the others. It’s how these characters are related that made this book really interesting for me (and no zombie in sight!). Their stories fit together perfectly and it’s really fascinating to see them all fall into place.

This is an amazing read that I finished it asking myself do people ever realize life while they live it? Hmmm…

Station Eleven may have started in darkness but it ended with a beam of hope.

Favorite quotes:

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

“Survival is insufficient.”

“The more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

“The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?”

Rating : 5/5 stars

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