Book Review: Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi
Authoress Note: I’d like to thank Mr. Yatsuhashi for allowing me to review his book and for giving me an advanced reader’s copy.
Plot Summary: When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”
Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession–that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. Keiko must decide if she will honor her father’s heritage and take her rightful place among the gods.
My Review: One of the most compelling things about this novel its plot. It is a fusion of the anime movie Spirited Away, the monster movie Godzilla, and a hint of the novel The Phantom of the Opera. Also, it is mostly fast-paced, with plenty of action and adventure. There are times that it is disorienting, especially when characters are being introduced. However, the author slows it down at the right time so the reader can catch their breath.
Another intriguing aspect of the book are its characters. They are inspired by different aspects of Japan such as mythology, anime, and history. The main character Keiko is reminiscent of the character Chihiro from Spirited Away because she is unsure of herself when she is thrust into the world of spirits. Yet, Keiko is also wise, showing self-control and empathy during key moments. Furthermore, she is courageous. However, an aspect of Keiko that is slightly disappointing is that she is less of an offensive force when it comes to her special power.
As for the supporting characters, they were very well done. Yui is strong, brave, and driven. These qualities become very admirable during the climax of the book. When it comes to the spirits, they were memorable because they were more human than they appeared to be. They experience love, heartbreak, anguish, and grief in a way that is haunting. As the story unfolded, I was reminded of the Proxies from the anime series Ergo Proxy.
Finally, the themes of harmony and balance are poignant because they create a powerful moral using the characters and plot. When is it okay to have what you want, instead of what you need? Can you have harmony without suffering? To gain balance, what are you willing to sacrifice? These questions are answered within the novel and may stay with the reader long after they finish the book.
Overall, this was a riveting read. I recommend this book to any anime or fantasy-fiction fan.