“In The Miso Soup” Review

Warning: If you have not read “In The Miso Soup” by Ryu Murakami, do not read this book if you wish to avoid spoilers. If you don’t mind spoilers or already read the book, however, feel free to read this!

I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “In The Miso Soup” by Ryu Murakami! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

It is just before New Year’s. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo’s sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank’s behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn’t until later, however, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.”

The plotline overall was interesting in the beginning, but I felt like it fell apart in the second half. Kenji’s growing distrust, disturbance and eventual terror of Frank was well-written, and it was the convincing terror that led me to keep turning the page until the end of the book. However, the second half of the book fell apart plotwise because some events began to not make sense, especially in the last few chapters. The ending felt unclear—was Frank arrested, after all? Would Kenji and his girlfriend be okay after all that happened? We’ll never really know.

I loved how Kenji described the red light district. When describing the area, there were places written where you felt like the dirt and grease and dead skin of all the previous customers rubbed off on you. The intricacy of those details really made this book more interesting to read.

When it came to the characters, I thought Kenji was well-written, but Frank was also just as well-written. Kenji’s terror, as well as Frank’s increasingly intimidating demeanor, was very much written in depth, not just when Frank actually went and killed numerous people in front of Kenji later on in the book, but also during the whole buildup towards that moment. I really loved how the author got that terror across and built up so well, with such depth. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Kenji’s girlfriend, at least not for the first half of the plot. She had a lot more relevance in the second half, helping Kenji try to deal with the rather terrorizing Frank, but I felt like she was simply there as someone to help Kenji and not quite being her own person.

Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, due to an unraveling second half of the plot as well as the lack of development in Kenji’s girlfriend. However, this is definitely an interesting book to read overall and I’d recommend it for those who like thrillers or are into nitty gritty description.

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