Review of Real World by Natsuo Kirino

Real World by Natsuo Kirino

This is a story of a young man who murders his mother and the four young women who get inextricably drawn into the situation after he stole the mobile phone of one of them and starts making calls. For each of the girls, ‘Worm’s’ matricide speaks to something in their own life, whether guilt, estrangement or a longing for escape from the confines of everyday life.

Each of the girls ends up struggling with questions of her own guilt or innocence through action or inaction, while the real murderer seems fairly lacking in any coherent introspection, seeing his mother as having brought his action on herself.

I didn’t enjoy this as much as Out or Grotesque. In part, I think it was because I simply found it hard to believe or accept that the response of almost all the girls was to feel interest or sympathy in the killer, rather than immediately call the police after contact. In the novel ‘Out’ I found the motivations for why the factory women helped their colleague who murdered her husband quite believable, but in this case I was just observing the protagonists’ actions with a kind of exasperated disbelief.

I think perhaps the characters weren’t as well drawn or vivid in this book as the others, though they revealed themselves through a very individualised first person narration. I was just left a little puzzled and sceptical about their reactions to events. This may be a book that will repay thoughtful rereading.

If you enjoy Kirino’s work or you like dark psychological thrillers with a bleak, contemporary outlook, this book is certainly worth a try.

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