Sort-of book review – Hikkikomori

I admit it, I wrote the title from memory and it may not be exactly correct. But it appears at least once that the author did the same, so I won’t apologise too much.

There we go, a nice bitchy start, and now anything I write from here on can’t be as bad as that. I am reviewing a self-published book, and I’m afraid to say that you can tell. The “typos” (to put it generously) are not frequent but they do illustrate the reason why the world has editors.

I read a book because I followed the author on Twitter. I really don’t remember why, presumably he said something interesting, which was RTed by someone else who I followed for no-reason-that-I-remember, so I followed him and he wasn’t annoying and therefore I didn’t unfollow him. Then when he said that he had written a book, a horror-ish book no less, I thought “I like books, and I spend far too much time on trains with nothing to do, and it’s 77p, so I will read it and then maybe even blog about it”.

Book covers for kindle-only books are a bit odd really, aren't they?

I’m writing this blog straight from my head onto the screen (via the keyboard of course) with very little plan so I apologise for any incoherency.

To summarise without spoiling (difficult) the book is written from the point of view of a man who is a recluse, he lives alone with his imaginary girlfriend and never leaves his flat, spending his nights (he is nocturnal) regretting the last words he said to his actual-human-being girlfriend: “And don’t come back!”. “Hikikomori” (I looked this time) is what his imaginary girlfriend calls him, a cutesey Japanese-inspired name meaning recluse or hermit. Neither of them is Japanese by the way, they are just the sort of people who think that everything is cooler if it is Japanese.

I fundamentally disagree with the front-cover blurb, by the way:

  • The Sixth Sense – this is a big neon sign saying “there will be a twist” – I prefer my twists to be unexpected
  • speed-written by Chuck Palahnuik – actually I can’t comment on this because I downloaded Fight Club and haven’t read it yet
  • until all the pages blurred into one – one of the noticeable stylistic features of this book is the short choppy chapters, nothing “blurs into one” at all

Particular things of note:

  • Practicalities of being a hermit are spelled out quite nicely – I am the sort of person who will read books and think “how did they eat/drink/go to the toilet” so I was quite pleased
  • Uneasyness (if that’s a word) in tone works well, if your imaginary friend doesn’t behave as you expect then is there something wrong with your imagination?
  • Not sure if “uneasyness” conveys what I meant correctly there – it is quite spooky in places and I want the first-person narrator to turn around or look in another room so I can see what is there
  • The imaginary girlfriend is an incredibly shallow caricature of a human being – a reflection of the depth of imagination that the character is capable of, or perhaps the level of interaction that he requires from “her”
  • Slightly spoilery I’m afraid, but parts written from a female point of view seem rather less fleshed-out than those from the male perspective
  • Ending… hmm. I suppose it could be exactly what the author intended, but I feel unsatisfied and not in possession of enough information to come to my own conclusion

I suppose the main question when someone tells you about a book they have read is “do you recommend it?”. I’m afraid my recommendation will have to be not-entirely-wholehearted. If your reading time is precious and limited, there are probably better books to fill it. If you find that it is the supply of books that is limited, then go for it – there are far worse ways to spend a few hours. If your kindle is full of books that you “meant to read” but haven’t gotten around to, well maybe you don’t need another book or maybe you just don’t really want to read those books and should read this one instead. Who knows?

Note: I wasn’t sure whether I should write this as it’s not entirely complimentary and I feel that it is a bit more personal than if it were a properly-published paper book by someone who was actually paid for it. (this is probably wrong anyway) But Twitter told me to write it anyway so I have.


2 thoughts on “Sort-of book review – Hikkikomori

  1. @LawrencePearce says:
    @CharlieEdmundsThe book isn’t self-published. It’s published by Salt Publishing and Proxima Books.

    Thought you’d all like to have the correct info. I was entirely guessing when I said it was self-published.

  2. Pingback: Reading books “because Twitter told me to” | screenfulofwords

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