Publication Date: 18/12/2007
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Translated Fiction | Japanese Fiction | Psychological Thriller | Gothic Horror
CW: incest, non-consensual drug use
All families have their own rituals, secrets, and credos, like a miniature religious cult; these quirks may elicit the mirth or mild alarm of guests, but the matter is rather more serious if you’re marrying into a household. If its’s a Japanese one with a history, the brace yourself: some surprising truths lurk around the corner.GoodReads
My quest to read as much Japanese fiction as I can continues with Nonami’s Now You’re One of Us which was kindly gifted to me by the wonderful Cara over at The Tattooed Book (if you haven’t checked out her blog before, you should definitely make your way over there!).
The entire novel focuses on Noriko as she struggles with learning her place in her secretive family. By keeping the novel limited to Noriko’s perspective this effectively heightened the tense atmosphere in the novel. I especially loved how we witness Noriko develop over the course of the novel. There were times where I didn’t understand her actions or didn’t agree with the way she went about it, but then it’s such a unique situation that it’s very difficult to say for certain what you would do in that situation. The dynamic of the family was very off, intentionally, which was almost addictive to read. They just seemed so strange and yet I was fascinated when they showed up, even if they creeped me out. Whilst she didn’t feature much I also loved Tommo, Noriko’s friend, as she very much felt like the voice of reason and a character I was completely rooting for.
The fact that something is strange with the Shito family is brought up in the opening chapter which cleverly sets up the unease when Naito is around them from the start. Whilst this novel is short Nonami does a great job on the pacing. Although it is revealed in the first few pages that something isn’t quite right, information is drip fed to Noriko, and therefore the reader, through the course of the nerd. You only ever get just enough information to keep you gripped but not enough to figure out what was going on. Being totally honest, I’m still not 100% sure what was really going on by the end of the novel there were some things that were very clear but some that weren’t. Despite not fully understanding everything that was going on by the end, I still found the final chapters incredibly unsettling.
Obviously, I won’t go into the ending as I want to avoid spoilers but the ending did have a big impact and it left me wide eyed and speechless. This novel was much more complex than I was expecting it to be, with several big mysteries surrounding the family. I feel that there are still some that I haven’t uncovered. If you enjoy a creepy read with cult vibes I highly recommend that you check it out!