I love Japanese and Korean movies simply for their honesty, how brutal it may be for the audience, they will never left any stone upturned in showing it on screen at times it does becomes cringe worthy for a person like me who isn’t so much used to see it the way they show it onscreen. That’s precisely what Kanae Minato has achieved in her second novel which I finished back to back after her first one called “Confessions” that I read and reviewed last week. Confessions was more of an account of a fifth grader, what goes inside the mind (and heart) of a kid when tragedy strikes in any form. Whereas “Penance” takes it one more step forward by telling us what goes inside the mind of a parent whose kid (again a fifth grader) gets brutally raped and killed in the school premises. Going by the title I had no idea what I was getting into but as soon as I started it and a couple of pages down the line I could very well imagine where it was going to go but was I correct? O boy, she has some imagination and the way she kept throwing the twists and turns, every ten pages that I actually went numb after midways and was totally engrossed to read what came next. Superb psychological thriller this one turns out with so many twists and turns that it actually became almost the best revenge thriller that I have ever read in the recent past. Although she kept her style of narrating the same story from five different angles intact in this one too as that makes it way too interesting and engrossing to read till the very end.
Emily, a fifth grader, out of town girl gets raped and killed while playing with four of her friends after school hours in the school premise itself. But the turn of events is such that her friends had no idea how that happens so near to them and they have no recollection of the person who actually walks up to them, takes her along and does it. How that impacts the life of not only Emily parents, but the friends in question who are not able to help solve the case makes up the rest of the incredible story stretched around 15 years of time. Murderer at loose is scary not only for the mother who seeks revenge but for the other four girls too and what happens with them in due course of time makes up for an unbelievable story. What I love (and hate equally) about Kanae’s narrative is the same story told from five different angle’s takes a toll on the reader but never gets repetitive, although unlike “Confessions” I felt a little over stretched but still I wasn’t able to put it down as my mind kept asking me get an answer whether they will ever find the murderer or the reason why she or he did that? Will the girls and Emily’s mother ever be at peace with themselves? You’ve got to read the book to get the answer but be ready for some real twisted story that actually made me think that how could someone write so honestly as what comes to her mind and as the situation demands. That was one heck of an effort and I will say Hats off to her for the superb story telling.
This is her second book in a row with a very touching subject as it happens in a small town of Japan. Giving us outsiders quite a glimpse (may be in form of fiction) of what happens thousands of miles away from us which sounds no different than what we all hear day in, day out in our part of the world. If you have read this, do let me know what you felt about it and I really wonder what is she going to come out next with? I will be waiting for her next very eagerly.