Japanese Book Review: 陽気なギャングの日常と襲撃  伊坂 幸太郎

youkinagyangunonichijyoutoshuugeki(youki na gyangu no nichijyou to shuugeki Isaka Kotaro)

This is the second book out of three in the Youki na Gyangu series. I previously posted a review of the first book. You definitely need to read the first book before picking this one up because the characters are not explained and there are many references to the previous plot. I thought this one would be about bank robbery as well, but that turned out to be a minor part of the plot. The central plot was about the four criminals saving someone they happened to see being kidnapped during one of their bank attacks.

I enjoy the characters in this book. They are not dynamic or realistic, but they are talkative and fun. This shosetsu goes into everyday episodes from each of their lives, and the events are all woven together. It’s almost like a thought experiment about what would happen if we lived in a world of excessive coincidences.

So many things tie together that it makes me wonder if I missed something in the parts that almost tie together. For example, two musicians are mentioned, there are two couples that have unresolved breakups who are reconnected, and there are two people who injure someone in a traffic accident. I can’t find a direct connection between these events but it creates a strange kind of deja vu feeling.

I’m impressed by the author’s style, and how even in a book that involves kidnapping, robbery, illegal casinos, and life and death situations, that the constant quips and banter of the characters keep if from feeling too intense.

For the language aspect, I think the modified Kojien definitions at the beginning of chapters are a nice touch. It provided a sense of familiarity because I certainly read a lot of the dictionary going through Japanese novels, but this time I decided to try something a bit different from looking up all of the words I don’t know. I’m trying to move in the direction of tadoku, to see how it works for me. Here is the tadoku manifesto from Liana’s Extensive Reading Journal.

1. Don’t look up words in the dictionary.
2. Skip over parts you don’t understand.
3. If you aren’t enjoying one book, toss it aside and get another.

I’m not really going to give up using the dictionary all together, and I can’t skip over parts I don’t understand if they are integral to the story and still enjoy a book. However I’m going to see if I feel like I get more out of reading more smoothly instead of the constant research interruptions. There are usually at least a few words or phrases per page I’m not familiar with, and sometimes they send me on a tangent (which I do enjoy). I tried a more tadoku style of reading for the second half of this book, and I’ll let you know how it goes after I try it on the next one.