Now You're One of Us Paperback – Dec 18 2007
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“This pulpy family psychodrama is hugely entertaining – like watching some filmed version of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test from an adapted screenplay by Mario Puzo and directed by Yasujiro Ozu.” — Time Asia
“Asa Nonami's NOW YOU'RE ONE OF US does for marriage what "Jaws" did for a day at the beach, and males and females alike will surly get a chill out of it.” — Fearsmag.com
“No unearthly monsters. No ghosts. No curses. Not even a single drop of blood decorates these pages. The tropes of traditional, Western horror are completely ignored in this Japanese novel, and yet it evokes a sense of dread which is nothing less than genuinely disturbing.”- HorrorReader
“The story's unpredictability is what makes it so suspenseful and successful.” — Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest
“A different country, a different culture, and characters who create something far more fishy than sushi, make for a very unusual reading experience. Jolting and disturbing, this is a powerful work; it’s an unconventional tale despite the conventional gothic trappings.” — Hellnotes
“Nonami twists Japanese societal norms ever so effectively, turning charm into creep and happiness into horror.” — Agony Columns
“An interesting dose of Japanese culture, mores, and history.” — Complete Review
“A creepy psychological thriller.”- The Gline
“I like the psychological mystery and unique Japanese perspective in this novel.” —Basugasubakuhatsu
“This isn't quite Science Fiction, though I kept wondering if cloning or genetic modification would emerge as the man behind the curtain. Instead it's a story about old arts and the bending of wills, the keeping of secrets, and the thick blood of family.” —SFRevu
About the Author
Asa Nonami is one of Japan's most popular and versatile authors, with dozens of bestselling novels across various genres to her credit. Her acute and accessible critiques of Japanese society have won her the heartfelt support of women in particular. She won the first annual Japan Mystery Suspense Award for debut talent in 1988 and the prestigious Naoki Prize for excellence in popular fiction in 1996.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
But what sort of madness underlies the apparent perfection of this extended family? Are they criminals? Are they deviants, living apart from the social norms that Noriko has always accepted? Noriko feels alienated, in part because she doesn't share the family's unnatural closeness (to quote an ancient issue of Mad magazine, "the family that bathes together, stays together," an apt description of the Shitos). Noriko observes an apparent sexual flirtation between siblings that concerns her, even as the family members shrug off her objections to their lifestyle. From the beginning, Noriko is subjected to a form of brainwashing designed to transform her into a true Shito. Her attempt to share her concerns with a friend only results in a new round of confusion and trouble.
For most of the novel, Noriko is stifled in her effort to understand the Shitos, as is the reader. While the reader shares Noriko's suspicions about the family's true nature, Asa Nonami keeps the family's secret well hidden. When the truth is finally revealed, however, it seems both anti-climactic and beyond improbable. Moreover, while it is easy to empathize with Noriko's plight, I found it difficult to accept that the familial brainwashing would so completely transform her belief system.
As I've found to be true with other thrillers translated from Japanese, the writing style is straightforward but uninspired. Perhaps it was the plainness of the prose that kept me from becoming engrossed in the story. More likely it was my eventual realization that Nonami was driving toward a destination that scarcely seemed worth reaching. The story of the Shito family is odd but not particularly shocking (although perhaps it was so regarded in 1993 when the novel was first published in Japan) -- not a good outcome for a novel that clearly aspired to provoke gasps. In short, Now You're One of Us tells an interesting story but fizzles out with a disappointing ending that doesn't match the promise of the novel's first half. It is a significantly less successful novel than The Hunter, the only other novel by this popular Japanese writer that I've read.
If you, like me, found this book while looking for something in the horror genre, you should know this book isn't the kind that instills terror in the reader, instead it gives a sense of dread, but a fascination to find out what happens next. I would absolutely say this book is worth the read, even if it might be somewhat outside your normal genre.