Author: Hiroshi Ishizaki
Published: January 2007 by Tokyopop
Length: 213 pages
Warnings: mild violence, 13+
Summary : Four disillusioned Tokyo teenagers who have never met are suddenly drawn together by a mysterious chain mail message sent to their cell phones. In the tradition of classical Japanese tanka poetry, each teen takes on a role in the intriguing and absorbing narrative: the schoolgirl stalked by an older boy; her mysterious stalker; the schoolgirl's boyfriend; and the female detective. Written from each character's point of view, Chain Mail carries the reader on a suspenseful adventure juxtaposing teenage angst against a colorful Tokyo backdrop in an unforgettable tale that blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy.
Review: Sawako, Yukari, Mai and Mayumi are four teenagers fed up with life. And one day they get an email to their phones inviting them to write a story. Each takes on one charcter and writes a little from their character’s point of view, and then the next person carries on the narrative. Each takes one of the four characters to narrate in this way, a schoolgirl, her boyfriend/tutor, her stalker and a detective. Together they write the story, but there is also a little more than that. They start writing having never met eachother, but then start wanting to meet up. They go on an unforgettable journey, of a kind, set in Tokyo and blurring the lines between reality and their fantasy world.
I only picked this up because it was one of the few young adult novels that came up when I asked my library database for something “translated from original Japanese”. So I reserved this, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it looked good from the blurb.
It was much more interesting than I thought it would be. It started really quickly with Sawako receiving and passing on the chain mail within the first twenty pages. We got really close to Sawako, Mayumi and Mai, both in the fantasy and real lives.
I loved watching Sawako, Mayumi and Mai develop. Their characters, their maturity, their intelligence. They are all amazingly put together characters. The characters and the story they made up were just as realistic and well imagined as their real lives.
Hiroshi Ishizaki has a brilliant writing style. Five of them to be exact. One to narrate real life, and four more for each part of the story that was put together by the girls, as it was a voice varying with each girl.
It’s perfectly paced, with a nice balance between the girls and the story. Throughout I just wanted to read on and on and on. It finished on a perfect note, with closure, and a little room for letting your imagination wander.
Overall: Strength 5 tea to a really richly woven story.