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Also a very good question. They either knew what was going on and had prepared, or they have biological differences that allow them to not need food? Although something like that would definitely show up in medical tests. And in any case, why hide? Or did they just see no reason for going outside, since everyone was gone? Or were they out and about, but the main characters just didn’t come across them?
Well, this is now two for two on Onda Riku books where most of the book has been great and then the end of the book is kinda dissatisfying. I had no patience with Aiko in that whole last chapter. Like, you chose this option, you didn’t have to, so why are you suddenly so freaked out about it now? Plus we mostly hadn’t had Aiko-POV parts before, so it was a bit out of left field for the entire last chapter to be written that way. About the only interesting thing was that it did confirm who the speaker was in the early start-of-chapter boldface sections.
It’s admittedly not crystal clear in my memory any more, as I finished it last week, but I didn’t get the impression that Aiko freaked out over herself becoming one of the changelings. Rather, she was initially upset that no one seemed to want to make their knowledge and research public and that Tamon just up and left immediately. And while it was unclear to me why and how they chose to be abducted so easily, as if they were deciding to go to the pub, one of the factors in their decision was that they would be a minority in a majority of changelings (unless they were unknowingly changelings already). But it turned out that they were in fact a minority now, because the rest of the country hadn’t been abducted. Yet.
I expected this kind of ending, this being Onda Riku. And I really liked how it showed how easily we get used to a new normal. Before they changed, it was a big mystery, a scandal worth revealing, a turning point in human history. After they changed, it was just fact. There are of course too many questions unanswered: from the little one of Tamon’s boots (I still think he must have done it himself and not remember, but who knows), to whether the changelings all are aware of what happened to them (it looked like the lady could recognize fellow changelings, but she seemed the most aware of the three anyway), to the purpose of all this happening (if there was one, maybe it’s just nature doing its thing), to the extent of the differences between humans and changelings, etc etc. There’s so much I’d like to know, but I’m also kind of happy I don’t, because overexplaining can ruin the mystery, and Onda’s books are all atmosphere. Another question: Tamon is teased to not be a mere human. Is it biological, or the way he thinks? What was that episode with the shadow? He’s certainly an intriguing person. And by the way, he appears in another book too, for those of use who’d like to see more of him: 不連続の世界 | L30?? (learnnatively.com) Not that I expect to find answers there
Aiko’s narration is full of stuff about なのに、なのにあたしはー which to me reads very strongly as “aaaa, I’m not normal”. Also in ch 15 Tamon says “all three of us are in the majority again now” as part of the conversation just after Aiko wakes up.
Did he say “all three of us” or just “all three”? The professor, Aiko and the journalist (I forget names) are the three who are part of the majority I think. My impression is that Tamon will never be part of any kind of majority.
Also, I was glad we finally got Aiko’s POV. We had got everyone else’s before that, even the journalist’s and the strange man’s who believed it was all the doing of kappa.
He said 僕たち、三人ともマジョリティに返り咲きさ (and the journalist isn’t in the room, so 三人 is clearly him and the professor and Aiko). And I wouldn’t object to Aiko’s POV so much if it wasn’t that it was almost only in the last chapter and then the entire last chapter – it just feels weirdly unbalanced and incomplete. Basically I really don’t think this author can do good endings, on current evidence, which is a shame because the rest of the book is always so good.
Oh yes, you’re right, I had forgotten about that! He basically lies though, because he goes on to say that it was made clear that he was already a changeling since he didn’t get abducted this time. Interesting.
This is my third Onda Riku book, and I can confirm that all three endings were open and vague. Based on reviews of other books of hers I read, I’d say this is a characteristic we can reliably expect from her. I don’t mind them at all, in fact I often prefer such endings, but I can see how they can often be frustrating.
I guess you don’t have children? My children usually slept so deeply that I could dress or undress them or whatever while they were sleeping
Admittedly for adults that might be different in general, although I’ve also come across specimen that wouldn’t wake up if you tore down the house around them.
Yes, so much! Where were they all the time? And then all of a sudden they are there - like the old lady who had been “stolen” earlier, and the boatsmen just sitting in their boats waiting for passengers
But all shops were closed and everything… and they seem to have searched everywhere? That bit really felt incoherent to me.
Are you saying that Tamon sleeps like a baby?
This may well be true. A regular adult would probably have a very light, fitful sleep on the night he expects to be abducted by an unknown entity and rebuilt from scratch. But then Tamon is not a regular adult, I guess.
But there was no point in opening the shops (if there even were shop owners around) for the handful of people who remained, I guess. There’s also an implied shared consciousness, so I suppose that’s how the lady knew the boatsman would be there. Maybe he was there exactly because the lady wanted a boat ride.
I initially thought “She did it because she loves him and does not want something bad to happen to him.” But if she really believes it’s a good thing to become a changeling like everybody else, why would she want to deprive him from that experience?
That’s interesting - I felt exactly the opposite. In the last chapter we get the confirmation that the bolded parts in the beginning were actually by her, and it somehow shifted the focus of the whole book completely to her, as if it was her story all the way, and initially presenting the story from Tamon’s POV was just a means of obfuscating everything. So I was kind of very satisfied with this outcome.
Also, the ending There’s all or nothing in it, and while we were luckily spared a Tamon-Aiko romance, the ending ignited this tiny flame of hope that maybe, maybe they will eventually find each other nonetheless.
Plus, I loved her reflections! Starting from “Who am I?” and “What makes me me?” to the “I want to be in the majority! - Oh huh, I’m now in the minority! ” and the talk about discrimination, which I took as a good finger-pointing towards Japanese society and widespread thought models.
Having said all that, I still found it quite an exhausting read nearer the end, which reminded me a lot of Eugenia. I don’t really know why, maybe it’s because across long passages there was no real plot that pulls the reader along. I often felt like I needed to take a break every 5 pages or so… but overall it was a much smoother read for me compared to Eugenia. I guess I’m getting a bit used to the author’s style.
I think I’d rather the book stopped at the end of chapter 14 than the chapter 15 we got… Chapter 15 was pretty much the only bit in the whole book I was reading just to get through it rather than because I was interested in it (with the chapter of the journalist’s voice memos coming second). So it left me particularly dissatisfied.
Oh I can totally see that. I remember that when I reached the end of Ch. 14 I was wondering what might be following now to justify a whole another chapter. But I think that would have been even more open-ended and vague