Sugaru Miaki is best known for the novel 『恋する寄生虫』 that has been adapted into a manga by ホタテユウキ and will get a film adaptation in 2021.
22 year-old Mizuha kills a highschool student when drunk driving. However, his young victim has the power to put off distressful events, and Mizuha is ready to do anything to make up for the accident.
It took me a while to get into the novel, but once I did, I loved it more and more as the story unfolded.
I did not like the beginning of the novel because it had some similarities with Norwegian Wood, a book that I did not like despite its being such a famous novel. One thing that I was not a fan of in Norwegian Wood is that the protagonist is a rather dull and uninteresting character, yet all the women of the story feel attracted to him. Similarly, Mizuha is the kind of person who usually goes unnoticed but he still manages to draw the attention of his schoolmate and his beautiful neighbour. Some topics like correspondence or suicide were also similar to Murakami’s novel.
However, when the story kicks off after the car accident, the novel takes an unexpected turn of events. I thought it would mainly be a story about youth, love and depression (a little like Norwegian Wood), but the story suddenly turns into a thriller-like scenario with a revenge theme, mild gore scenes and some suspense.
The end was also surprising, changing tone again to come back to a more romantic line of story, but introducing some heavy topics like domestic violence and school bullying.
Overall, I find that this story was engrossing and entertaining, but at the same time, it also made me feel depressed at times. The end was not what I was expecting, and the book turned out not to be the relaxing read I thought it would be.
In the afterwords, the author writes: 『いたいのいたいの、とんでゆけ』は、二度と抜け出せない穴に落ちた人の物語でした。しかし僕はそれを単に薄暗い話としてではなく、元気の出る話として書いたつもりでいます。とてもそうは見えないかもしれませんけれど、でも、そうなのです。(p.364) I agree that it does not look like it at all… At least, I did not have this impression and felt quite sad when I closed the book.
『いたいのいたいの、とんでゆけ』 is a beautiful love story that deals with heavy topics and borrows from other genres like thriller and speculative fiction. It might not be a 薄暗い話 but it is not rose either. I do recommend it, but it might not be the best read if you feel depressed at the moment. Despite what the author says, I would not describe this novel as “元気の出る話”.
I will definitely try to get my hands on 『恋する寄生虫』!