Author: Project Itoh/Itoh Keikaku
Genre: Scifi, Dystopian
Publication Date: July 2010 (English-translated edition)/2008 (original Japanese language edition)
Synopsis: In a perfect world, there is no escape.
In the future, Utopia has finally been achieved thanks to medical nanotechnology and a powerful ethic of social welfare and mutual consideration. This perfect world isn’t that perfect though, and three young girls stand up to totalitarian kindness and super-medicine by attempting suicide via starvation. It doesn’t work, but one of the girls–Tuan Kirie–grows up to be a member of the World Health Organization. As a crisis threatens the harmony of the new world, Tuan rediscovers another member of her suicide pact, and together they must help save the planet…from itself.
☆: 5/5 – a truly frightening and breathtaking look at what just might be our future.
Review: I can see why this was nominated for this year’s Phillip K. Dick award.
Dystopian fiction is one of my favourite genres, and this book really takes the top spot of some of the scariest dystopian fiction that I’ve ever read. And I’ve read plenty of it (starting with Huxley’s “Brave New World” at age 13).
I’m definitely not going to give spoilers on this one, because I think that everyone should give this book a read. Much in the vein of Otsuichi’s writing, Itoh’s prose is short and brutal and straight to the point, with the opening of the book much like a punch to the gut. But not in a bad way – that I have to emphasize – but more in the “open your eyes and pay attention, dammit” sort of way. Even though this book takes place in the future (with a slightly alternate past), the echoes with current society are strong and frightening – a portent of what we may become should we continue to be so health-obsessed in global society as a whole.
It’s a shame that that we’ll never get another book from Itoh (unless they find something else that they haven’t already posthumously published) – he had true talent. I can only hope that Viz/Haikasoru goes ahead and translates the rest of his (sadly small) bibliography.