We are following the below schedule (page counts may vary based on your medium):
Week 1 - Up until star break. Sentence ending in 殺されたからです。- 9% / p.29
Week 2 - Through end of chapter 1 - 19% / p.61
Week 3 - Up until star break. Sentence ending in 救われた気分でした。- 28% / p. 87
Week 4 - Through end of chapter 2 - 38% / p. 119
Week 5 - Chapter 3 - 54% / p. 169
Week 6 - up until bolded section starting with 四歳児 - 64% / p. 196
Week 7 - through end of chapter 4 - 74% / p. 229
Week 8 - through end of book - 100% / p. 301
I will generally copy this information over thread to thread each week for ease of finding - you can always expect the schedule at the top of any weekly thread
Law and Order
Any reveals, for the current chapters must be behind spoilers or detail curtains. When we get further in you don’t need to hide details that were revealed in previous chapters.
Questions on vocab, grammar, nuance, and the like are both welcome and encouraged. If you’re not sure if it’s a spoiler, assume it is and use one of the above options to hide the text.
You are encouraged to speculate and guess wildly
Be kind about other peoples’ wild guesses
Even if you don’t read the chapter(s) in time, you are still encouraged to post in the thread for that reading once you have finished it. I advise not reading ahead in the threads as you may see spoilers.
To gauge participation - a poll!
Are you reading week 2?
Yes, I’m planning to read along/am reading along this week
Beginning with the difficult situation teachers are put in when they suspect a student of being up to no good and not being able to do much about it, to talking about 愛美’s funeral and how it was sadly the first and last chance her father would have to hold her really reemphasizes the toll this has taken on the protagonist. She recognizes her inability to protect everyone she’s responsible for from a demonstrably “trouble child” as the result of a society that coddles its children, even after committing murder (of 5 other people no less). And despite recognizing the problem that Student A might become with their morbid curiosity, terrifying ingenuity, and utter disregard of personal boundaries in the name of scientific pursuit, she is unable to stop him in any meaningful way and lost her daughter as a result. All the blame can’t be put on Student A though, since it was Student B that directly caused her death/murder. Could this commentary on how an evil genius might be terrifying but it is actually the weak-willed every-man that is trying to protect their ego that is more dangerous? I could be oversimplifying, but if Student B was able to look past their own shame and embarrassment of being associated with a possible murder and find someone to help, 愛美 might still be alive.
And as tragic as the events leading up to her daughter’s death has been, can we really trust the protagonist to be a reliable narrator? She seemingly justifies her actions by telling her students about a few instances where children committed horrendous acts and, in her eyes, essentially got away with it because of a skewed justice system. So she decides to combat this through her own skewed sense of justice in order to instill the importance and weight of life onto both Student A and B. I do think that Student A and B actually did what was said, which is how our protagonist is able to take such drastic measures to teach them a lesson, but what is she hoping to achieve with this?
Also, for clarification is 桜宮正義先生 the father of 愛美? She used their blood (I’m having trouble with what 爪の垢ならぬ血液 means) to inject into the milk pack which would mean 桜宮先生 would also have had HIV or AIDs. I argue that an unrelated party would be way more hesitant to use their blood to possibly give HIV to two students, unless the students in question happen to be responsible for the death of their daughter.
Finished week 2’s reading. Looks like we finally get the protagonist’s name here: 森口。
And in more important news… What was that “ending”? She figures out how her daughter died, and because she feels the students won’t be justly punished by the legal system, feeds them blood in their milk? (And every other student in her class as well?) So that they’ll feel the weight of a human life? Uhhh, I feel like I’ve missed something. And if the 効果 (them feeling remorse?) doesn’t take effect, they need to be careful of traffic? (She’ll run them over?) I was expecting the blood to be laced with HIV or something, but maybe not? (see edit) I have no idea what to do with this information.
This book isn’t short stories, right? It’s one continuous novel?
I feel like something has gone way over my head with this; I’m just so confused.
Edit: So after re-reading the last page or so, it sounds like she really did give every (just the two) students in her class HIV. Damn.
I looked this up, and there is a “saying” 爪の垢を煎じて飲む which basically means to become like someone (who is superior to yourself). Maybe that’s what this is referring to? My library had the English translation, and it’s much more explicit but also completely not literal.
You see, I added some blood to the cartons that went to A and B this morning. Not my blood. The blood of the most noble man I know—Manami’s father, Saint Sakuranomi.
I think, probably, the students wouldn’t have been properly punished by the law. You see it all the time, kids getting off lightly. I don’t know about Japan, but in my country, certain legal options aren’t even available, if the offender is not an adult. She also probably doesn’t have very good evidence. Without witnesses, it’s really just her theory. Plausible, but a theory.
On a separate note: I am pretty sure you cannot get HIV through a small amount of blood in your drink - HIV doesn’t even survive in water, and surely not in refrigerated milk. So, I guess, the car “accident” will be needed.
I had also found the saying but I think it would have been used in its complete form if that was what it meant. All dictionaries I consulted list 爪の垢(ほど) as small quantity/shred/bit.
My biggest peeve with the book. As far as I know the likelihood of getting HIV through consuming anything, even straight quantities of contaminated blood, is minuscule. But I guess this doesn’t stop the kids worrying for their lives, which is the intended effect. And seeing as one of them even drew back in case he (?I don’t remember if it was a boy) might catch it by breathing, this is an easy audience to scare.
Oh wow that’s pretty explicit in the English translation. Thank you so much for looking it up! There’s no way to miss the paternal connection in the English version. I originally took it as “dirty” or “unclean” because she wanted the students to fear for their lives but it would have been a callous thing to say about someone whom you plan to make up lost time with.
Haha, I took the 爪の垢ならぬ血液 to just mean very literally the blood under his nails. I was like, “huh, yeah I guess you could get it from there. He probably didn’t volunteer it…right?” Though maybe he did as he is the girl’s father.
Also she kind of did poison the students’ milk Just…not at all the way I was expecting.
Given my own way I’d rather hope A君 gets into a 交通事故 sooner rather than later, doesn’t seem to me they’re redeemable. I’ve mentioned animal cruelty is my one no-go for books and if @omk3 hadn’t told me in advance it didn’t go further than a mention I likely would have dropped…
B君 seems like just a dumb kid, though, at least so far. I’m curious what the other narratives will reveal, though. Like right now this feels almost like a super dark short story. What more will be explored?
Underage offenders not being punished enough has been a theme I’ve read about a lot in Japanese books / seen in dramas, but interestingly in America it seems we are more apt to throw the book at you regardless of age. Looks like it was only in 2005 that the death penalty was raised from 16 to 18 on a nationwide level, although 30 states had either banned it or raised the age to 18 prior to then. It’s complicated though, as how minors will be treated for heinous crimes will vary from state to state quite a bit. 50 countries under a star spangled trench coat and all that.
Wow, and that was just the first chapter. I have no idea what to expect next.
I’m honestly not sure how I feel about a lot of things in this chapter. On one hand I feel sorry for B, since so far I get the impression that they just panicked and didn’t think, but they are also the one that caused 愛美’s death. If it had just been A it would have been a terrible memory for 愛美, but she would still be alive. But then A doesn’t seem to care about hurting others at all or comprehend the severity of the situation.
Giving someone HIV also doesn’t feel like a productive way of dealing with this, though I can understand the reasoning behind it. I think for now I’ll just stick to believing that 森口先生 purposefully chose a way that would scare the two of them without actually infecting them.
I vaguely remember the narrator saying that 桜宮正義 only had a few months to live or something to that effect, that’s when I first wondered if that happened to be the father. Thinking back now their stories both line up with going abroad to rough areas.
I’m glad to hear here that the animal cruelty doesn’t go further than this, I would’ve needed to skip sections otherwise.
The story does a good job of building tension through these two readings. Things start off lighthearted, the teacher is telling jokes and the students are actively reacting to what is being said. But by the end they are all silently glued to their seats. The background stories helped to set up the conclusion eg. that B君 is overly concerned with how he looks to other people and now they are going to ostracize him in the ways that the teacher said would’ve happened to her daughter if she had married the father.
When she started going into detail about A君 and B君 I was wondering where it could possibly be going since she seemed to be revealing a lot of information early on in the story but also it would be obvious to the class who A君 and B君 are based on the details she shared.
I think it’s likely that the teacher didn’t actually put blood into their milks and is just saying that to give the intended effect.
I am curious why they are not switching classes the next school year though, unless I missed something.
That makes sense to hear that the narrator will change after this reading. Interested to see where this goes from here. So far A君 is portrayed as being more one-dimensional than B君 so I’m wondering if we’ll see more of B君 in the story.
edit: Did not realize until sending my comment how much I wrote oops. On a side note, I’m reading on the Kindle app and my percentages are different from the ones stated here. The end of chapter 1 was 22% for me.
Oh interesting - mine is the Rakuten version. I’m not aware of any differences in the text, but mine has the newer cover fwiw. Maybe one of the other has additional text at the end? There was nothing supplementary at the start of mine
Finished reading the first chapter, what a great way to set the tone. Was a bit challenging and I think the pace of this book club so far feels about right. Maybe I’ll be able to read faster as I go as that typically happens when I start something new. Of all the books I read so far this one does grab your attention almost right away.
There was a moment where they keep adding new letters to the students and the levels of the cram school that it was a bit confusing keeping up. Would have preferred differentiating it some more. They gave a reason for why they didn’t want to use the student’s name, but everyone in that class and probably school would know them by their unique characteristics. Feels more like a stylistic genre choice looking back on it.
I’m sorta glad it was just a dumb kids do dumb sorta things, although it is unfortunate that 愛美 got caught up in it. At least she didn’t suffer much from it in the end.
I’m interested in seeing where it goes from here and what more confessions we get to hear.
I felt this way too! 森口先生 does very little to hide immediately identifiable qualities when talking about students A and B. There’s probably no way the other students wouldn’t know who she was talking about. And I agree with you about it being a stylistic choice. Maybe the author wanted the reader to think of someone in their in their own life that fit the mold of A or B before giving them an name/identity in the book as a way to bring forth the reader’s personal bias?
I felt it was another minor cruelty added to her revenge. She initially gave the impression she’d respect their privacy, then made sure that everyone knew exactly who it was, even without names. The students in question must have been initially relieved that at least their names wouldn’t be mentioned, then gradually more and more uncomfortable as more identifying details came to light.
There was a chapter at the end of my physical version of the book which was an interview with the director of the movie adaptation. Maybe this is why the percentages of the different versions is different.