[Book review] Confessions by Kanae Minato.

[This post is done as part of GaCoWriMo, my own personal twist to NaNoWriMo.]

confessions

Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge.

After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.

But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.

Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you’ll never see coming,Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in harm’s way. You’ll never look at a classroom the same way again.

Goodreads

I have a confession to make.

I’m not normally a fan of dark/edgy/character-centric/psychological/murder/whateverthisis stories. I’d much rather take a plot-focused fantasy or comedy any day. I am a fan, though, of Japanese culture (which is weird considering how dark and edgy it can be) and, given the stellar raves and the interesting premise of this book, I decided to give it a try anyway.

I have another confession to make.

I loved it.

The book should not work for me – there isn’t much plot! While there are later events, it’s a lot less than I expected based on the book blurb and the central murder – which had occurred prior to the beginning – remains the biggest mover in the entire book. Instead, each chapter shifts from character to character, offering their take on the murder (and what happens after), gradually revealing the horrifying fuller picture. The book does build up to a big, slightly over-the-top finale but the story takes lots of psychological tangents while slowly moving forward to that end.

What the book lacks in action, though, it makes up for in characterization. Minato is fantastic at writing in multiple voices (a mastery many American YA authors could learn from), with each chapter sounding totally different from the last, and the characters coming off pretty authentic (if messed up). Several key players are played out at first as straight-out whacked jobs and seem pretty one-dimensional but each of their turns in the spotlight fleshes out their story, revealing their motivations, thought processes, and ultimately making them more understood, if not relatable. You might not agree with them at the end of the day but you can see where they’re coming from, misguided and pitiable as they might seem.

I’ve seen a few readers comment that the pacing of the book is dreadfully slow (which is always a major issue for me) but I was surprisingly engaged. There is just enough going on that, when combined with the writing, kept me flipping the pages for much longer and at a much faster pace than I would normally do with such books.

I don’t think this book is for everybody. Then again, I didn’t think this book would have been for me. Confessions is everything I would normally avoid in a book but somehow it made for a great read. If anything in the synopsis (or this review) piqued your interest at all, I advise you to give it a try – you might be surprised like I was.

Rating: Buy/borrow/bin

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