Rating: Five out of five stars
Secondhand Memories was written as a cell phone novel in the late 2000s. I became intrigued by the cell phone novel movement late last year, and eagerly awaited its release as a published book. I opted to purchase the Kindle version to remain true to its original form.
A cell phone novel is a movement originating from Japan, in which each chapter is about 100 words. The chapters are meant to be read on the screen of a small phone in between classes or during a commute. Takatsu is the first writer to write an original cell phone novel in English.
The premise of a simple storyline evolves into a plot complicated with emotion. Seiji must deal with the accident that left Aoi, his childhood friend and high school sweetheart, in a coma. The various ways he tries to cope with this confusing time results in something beautiful.
Throughout the entire book, I was at a loss as to what to rate this book. In the beginning, I was intrigued; in the middle, I felt the reading experience slow to a crawl; in the end, I was left speechless.
The English major in me wanted to rate this book three stars. The Kindle version is laced with typos and inconsistencies that drove my perfectionist brain mad. Some Japanese words are defined, while others are not. Words are combined and missing, and some chapters repeat themselves. I believe it were chapters 817 and 818 that were the same chapter, word for word. The second-to-last chapter had been repeated a few chapters before; it is unclear whether this was a typo or brilliant repetition. EDIT: I have been made aware that this repetition has been fixed.
Seiji as a character annoyed me at times, but then I realized that what really annoyed me was his immaturity, flair for the dramatic, and casual sexism – a reflection of his development and growth throughout the book.
But that ending. I am at a loss of – emotion – as I write this. This book left an emotion in me that I only feel after watching powerful anime. I felt as if I were watching it on the screen as I read. This is why my personal rating jumped from three to five stars within the last 100 words of the book. I was not expecting to feel like this – but this is a good feeling. I will only say that Takatsu brings the story together in the only way it could end to inspire the – satisfaction? fulfillment? catharsis? – that I am feeling now.
This review can also be found on Goodreads.
Photo from Amazon.