REVIEW: The Memory Police

Completely out of character for me, I read yet another dystopian novel this month and while I enjoyed it enough, it was definitely an unsettling story.

Ogawa Yoko’s latest novel, The Memory Police, is about a small, unnamed island that is controlled by a strange regime from nowhere called the Memory Police. The police control what is and isn’t allowed the exist on the island, meaning when something has been “disappeared” not only does the thing itself vanish from the island but all memories and emotional attaches to said thing vanish too. Anyone who is capable of remembering what has vanished is taken away by the police, and as more and more things begin to disappear, the nameless narrator struggles with a terrifying thought: what if things never stop disappearing?

This novel takes it’s time, the slow and easy pace really making you feel like things are okay. It is very much a false sense of security that shows how oppressive and yet normalized high-surveillance states are – everyone on the island is nervous around the Memory Police, but everyone also has a firm “I’m not doing anything wrong, so there is nothing to worry about” mentality. The concept of things just vanishing is also terrifying. It isn’t just little things, but it includes food and animals as well. As the story progresses and the stakes rise while our narrator is hiding her friend, R, the horrific concept really gets dark: what if words disappear? The censorship in media that’s heavily implied through that idea is horrifying and I love how intense the metaphor is.

Much like some of my favourite Japanese horror films, this book is quiet until the last few chapters when everything is happening to an overwhelming degree. It’s an ending that can’t be described without huge spoilers, but it gets really twisted really quickly. I got very uncomfortable and finishing it was a struggle but I do plan on re-reading it when the world isn’t entirely on fire. Do I recommend reading this book? Absolutely. But maybe wait a few months.


Thank you NetGalley and YenPress for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I love Japanese stories. I find there’s just something that’s always different about Japanese lit that tugs at my heartstrings no matter the book. Having loved all the recently translated light novels I’ve been reading, I was so excited to have been approved for Mirai by Mamoru Hasoda, especially given that I’m such a huge fan of his films.

Mirari is the story of a little boy, Kun, who is livid to find he isn’t receiving as much attention or affection from his parents now that he has a baby sister. However, Kun is then visited by a future version of his sister as well as other versions of all of the people around him in an adventure of love, family, and learning.

Now, this story was presented as an anime film first and then later adapted into the light novel as presented with this book. Much like your name. or even manga adaptations such as Wolf Children (also a film by Hasoda) or the Boruto series, it’s not uncommon to have the books come after the film/series is released. It doesn’t always work, and despite enjoying the story, I do feel like Mirai is an example of one better seen rather than read.

It felt a little jumbled in places and I am honestly not sure if that is due to parts of the story being lost in translation between the original Japanese and this English edition, or if it just is simply how the story is paced. It was still very cute and an interesting look into modern family living in Japan, but I think it would have had more emotional value in the form of a manga rather than a novel.


REVIEW: your name.

I have always had a sweet spot for anime and manga, and that love has grown to enjoy the light novels that often turn into some of my favourite series (or vice versa). your name is no exception.

The Story

Taki and Mitsuha’s stories are interwoven in a dreamlike sense that is a little confusing at first, but quickly becomes the only way this story could be told without visuals. The two switch places when they sleep, slowly falling in love with each other in a way that is heartbreakingly sweet and sincere.

At the end of the book, it is a happy story that still brings tears to my eyes and an ache in my heart.

The Characters

The two main characters are Mitsuha and Taki.

Mitsuha is a traditional girl who longs for a more modern life in Tokyo, a city far more grand and exciting than the tiny village of Itomori where she currently resides. During a beautiful meteor shower, she wishes to be reincarnated as a rich, handsome boy in Tokyo.

She get’s her wish and that’s where we meet Taki, a rich, handsome boy in Tokyo. We first meet him the first time he and Mitsuha switch bodies, when everything is still confusing. He comes off as a bit of a pervert in the beginning, but as the story progresses, we come to see he has a sensitive side he expresses through art – drawing landscapes and architectural pieces. Sure, he can still be a bit of a egotist but he learns to grow from Mitsuha and her family, which makes him a wonderful character that even I started to fall in love with.

Conclusion: ★★★★★

I don’t have issues with this story at all. The beginning is a little confusing, but the flow of the story builds in a way that truly draws you in so that when it finally has a firm grasp of your heart, it’s too late to back out. your name. is as gut-wrenching a story as the majority of my favourite Japanese stories are and I recommend it to anyone who wants a book that will make them laugh and cry at the same time. Learn to love despite the odds and read Shinkai Makoto’s novel. The best part is, once you’re finished, Shinkai directed the movie!

32856011Author: Makoto Shinkai (translated by Taylor Engel)
Published: May 23rd 2017
Pages: 184
Publisher: Yen On
ISBN: 9780316471862

Synopsis: Mitsuha, a high school girl living in a rural town deep in the mountains, has a dream that she is a boy living an unfamiliar life in Tokyo. Taki, a high school boy living in Tokyo, dreams that he is a girl living in the mountains. As they realize they are changing places, their encounter sets the cogs of fate into motion. The light novel is written by director Makoto Shinkai of the animated film Your Name.

REVIEW: The Graveyard Apartment

Originally reviewed for Unnerving Magazine

I received a free advanced copy of this novel in exchange for the review.

Translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm and written in a style typical in Japanese ghost stories, The Graveyard Apartment follows a young family residing in a building surrounded on all sides by a massive graveyard and crematorium. Slowly, the Kanos come to realize that there is far more to the building that the creepy view, as they are harassed by things unseen over the course of several months.

28220806As I mentioned, Mariko Koike’s novel unfolds in a way that is very similar to popular Japanese stories like The Ring or the The Grudge, as in the pacing is slow and steady with scattered, intense moments that increase as the story draws closer to its conclusion. This pacing works for the story, but tends to get more or less sidetracked earlier on in the novel. Not everything seems entirely necessary and I found my mind wandering over sections often while reading.

When it comes to the scares themselves, Koike knows her stuff, and the entities lurking in the apartment building are truly terrifying in such a subtle way that it becomes more terrifying when you’ve put the book down to venture into your own dark basement. As the siege begins on the family, I was hit with a sense of claustrophobia that I normally don’t encounter while reading and quite enjoyed how well that sense was conveyed.

All in all, I would primarily recommend this novel to those who are familiar with and or enjoy Japanese ghost stories or even those who are fans of a more subtle form of horror.

Author: Mariko Koike (translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm)
Published: October 11th, 2016
Pages: 336
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN: 9781250060549

Synopsis: A terrifying tale of a young family who move into an apartment building next to a graveyard and the horrors that are unleashed upon them.

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building begin to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone… or something… lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again.