I have to be honest, I don't really know where to start with this one. I first discovered Coin Locker Babies through a horror video game, Silent Hill 4: The Room, How did that happen? Well, soon after completing the game for the first time, I discovered that the book was an one of the influences on the game, at least in terms of the plot. So going into it, I expected it to be a supernatural horror story.
Nope. that's not what this is at all dear reader. It's a surreal, postmodern, brutal literary book about two men, Hashi and Kiku, who were abandoned by their mothers as infants in coin lockers in Tokyo train station sometime in the early 1970's. Upon their discovery, they are sent to an orphanage and eventually adopted and raised as brothers....then it starts getting really violent and weird. I'm not going to share every little detail, but large parts of the book are genuinely disturbing, in that real life 'makes you think' kind of way.
Anyway, like I said, Hashi and Kiku grow up as brother. By their teenage years, Kiku has become this outspoken hyper confident jock, while Hashi is timid and quiet....Annnnd then Hashi decides that he's bisexual, for reasons that are not explained till much later, and runs away from home to find his real mother and to become a singer. Naturally, everyone is rather upset about this, Kiku and their adoptive mother go to Tokyo to find him and are dumb or desperate enough to believe the first person who says they've seen him. Said person worked in a rather shady bar, and insists that Kiku go meet Hashi in an equally shady bar alone. Where Kiku kills the old man who tries to seduce and rape him. As if that's not traumatic enough, Kiku's adopted mother then dies a few hours after cracking her head open,...and then Kiku comes to the epiphany that the world is so worthless and full of assholes that it would be better if it all just went away. And now he wants to find a bioweapon that he heard about as a child called DATURA, and make that happen. Kiku at this point becomes rather distant and cold, almost evil. I say "almost" because concepts like "Good" and "Evil" are arbitrary in this book. There's no external antagonist, and almost all of the conflict comes from the damaged minds of Hashi and Kiku.
Oh and speaking of Hashi, he's found in an even worse part of Tokyo and is working as a crossdressing prostitute until his debut as a singer. Oh, and somehow his singing is so beautiful that he can now literally hypnotize people, and cause them to have psychotic fits....Yeah, I don't get it either. He becomes a rock star seemingly overnight...annnnnd then he starts to go crazy. I don't want to spoil it but, yeah, it's enough to say that there are times when Hashi makes Kiku look normal. There are other characters to look at, but I only wanted to focus on Hashi and Kiku here, because they are ones who are really carrying the story. Coin Locker Babies is a character driven story, in the truest sense of that phrase. Both fascinating and brutal.
There's only one thing holding this book back from being truly great....the translation. Coin Locker Babies was originally published in Japanese, and the english translation is dry and bland. It gets the job done, but it's so mechanical that I honestly have to question the translators creative ability. Its because of that I had real problem getting into the story. It's like it wanted to suck me in...but it needed a new motor.
But with all that, should you read this book? If you can stomach the books harsh nature, then yes. You definitely should. If you're interested, then click the book's cover at the top of this post to get it from amazon.
That's the review. Now I need to say something...*sigh*, I truly dislike talking about this, so I will be blunt. I need help if I'm going to continue doing this. I am really hurting for money right now and I can't find another job. And while I will continue to make posts, videos and working on my book, I need some more assistance to pay the bills and my other expenses like my ADHD Medication and my insurance. With that in mind, I set up a Amazon store where I sell, Books (including kindle books), videogames, movies, anime and music. You can check it out here: http://astore.amazon.com/awesostufffor-20 .
I've also put a link to the store in the "links" bar to the right, and you can get to the store front by scrolling down and clicking on the box labeled 'My Store Front."
I also set a paypal donation widget in the top right corner of this blog a while back, so you can support me directly if you would like too. And, as always, there is my book of short stories, Walking with Summer Dreams on Lulu.com, Amazon (including the Kindle), Barns and Noble.com and the Nook, as well as my youtube videos. I won't beg you, but if you do decide to help me out, you'll have my eternal gratitude.
Thank you for reading, see you next time. =).