I was lucky enough to have been granted a copy of Parade from NetGalley. I picked this book because the description piqued my interest.
Four twenty-somethings share an apartment in Tokyo. In Parade each tells their story: their lives, their hopes and fears, their loves, their secrets. Kotomi waits by the phone for a boyfriend who never calls. Ryosuke wants someone that he can’t have. Mirai spends her days drawing and her nights hanging out in gay bars. Naoki works for a film company, and everyone treats him like an elder brother. Then Satoru turns up. He’s eighteen, homeless, and does night work of a very particular type. In the next-door apartment something disturbing is going on. And outside, in the streets around their apartment block, there is violence in the air. From the writer of the cult classic Villain, Parade is a tense, disturbing, thrilling tale of life in the city. (GoodReads)
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed when I got to the end. But first let me tell you what I liked about this book. The structure of the book was interesting. The story is told through the points of view of the 5 characters, one at a time, each one progressing the story and never going back over the same time as covered by a previous character. I liked this structure. It was interesting to view the story through changing eyes. It was an enjoyable way to get to know the characters themselves but also to learn how they see each other since these 5 people live in a two bedroomed apartment together.
The book is quite short so it was easy to get through but a huge part of the book was about these people going about their everyday routines and while some of what they did and who they were was at times bizarre (and therefore interesting) nothing really happened. I did like that the theme was supported so well by the structure. For me this novel is about never really knowing the people closest to you and to never judge a book by its cover. You may live with people but that doesn’t imply that you know who they really are. The girls in the story talk about being their ‘apartment selves’ and that the real them doesn’t exist in the apartment which struck me as I can’t really imagine myself managing to be so accepting of having to be anything but the real me where I live.
The three elements of the description that attracted me to this book were the arrival of Satoru, the disturbing ongoings of the neighbours, and the violence in the air around their block. Satoru was an interesting addition to the cast and he served his part in the story – his presence was important for the theme in my opinion. The reports of the violence around their apartment block played such a minor role in the novel that by the time I got to the end and all was revealed I felt like I wasn’t connecting with the ending. There had been no breadcrumbs throughout the story to get me to the point where I could appreciate the crime element of the story. No doubt the end was a shock – I hadn’t expected it but I felt like I had just read 90% of the book building up to something to get to the end and, wham, unexpected turn of events and no explanation.
I really think from a character perspective this is a good book. However, I think the description of it is a bit misleading. You think you’re reading a book to do with strange ongoings and violence in the streets but really this book is better described for the strong message it carries: you never know who people really are. I did enjoy the style, structure, and characters though so I’ll still be reading Yoshida’s popular novel Villain in the near future.