Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata | A Satire on Female Conventions

Convenience Store Woman: Murata, Sayaka: 9781846276835: Amazon.com ...

Title: Convenience Store Woman

Author: Sayaka Murata

Translator: Ginny Tapley Takemori 

Publication Date: July 5, 2018

Synopsis

She found sanctuary in a supermarket. Now she’s about to lose it.

Keiko isn’t normal. At school and university, people find her odd, and her family worries she will never fit in. To make them happy, Keiko takes a job at a newly opened convenience store where she finds peace and purpose in simple daily tasks.

But in Keiko’s circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend her time stacking shelves and ordering green tea. As the pressure to find a new job – or worse, a husband – increases, Keiko is forced to take desperate actions.

1Hello there allies, archenemies, and everyone in between! I’ve been reading a lot of Japanese contemporary recently and I was genuinely surprised by their quaint beauty. Convenience Store Woman skillfully tickles the laughter inside of you while also making you contemplative of its undertones.

EFFORTLESS AND HUMOROUS WRITING VOICE

Sayaka Murata effortlessly pulls you in with her humorous and unflinching storytelling. I obviously don’t know though if the translation accurately captured the spirit of Murata’s writing voice but it was truly captivating to read.

(Seriously though, we all have to thank these translators for giving us access to these masterpieces!)

Keiko is a socially inept woman who doesn’t understand and believe the rules of normalcy. There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments that hinged on the comical disconnect between her thought process and actions. Keiko may be an oddball but her personality aptly fits the contrast needed to propel the social commentary present in the book.


EXPERTLY DIVULGES A COMMENTARY ON SOCIAL CONFORMITY IN THE ALLURING GUISE OF A CONVENIENCE STORE.

Sometimes Convenience Store Woman has this atmosphere that makes it borderline dystopic even if the actual timeline is rooted in the present. In a sense, this book reiterates what our world now really is like and even go so far as to relate it in the little pockets of society we have, in this case, however, it is the convenience store.

The convenience store culture in Japan is highlighted here and creates this sense of normalcy and solidarity between the customers, the clerks, and even the store. There is an unspoken rule of order and everyone has to play their role seamlessly or else you will be evicted from the premises. It’s a truthful metaphor for our society without having the need to glamorize it because it’s so painstakingly obvious. Additionally, I really love the little details captured in the convenience store’s atmosphere, here’s an excerpt of it:

A convenience store is a world of sound. From the tinkle of the door chime to the voices of TV celebrities advertising new products over the in-store cable network, to the calls of the store workers, the beeps of the bar code scanner, the rustle of customers picking up items and placing them in baskets, and the clacking of heels walking around the store. It all blends into the convenience store sound that ceaselessly caresses my eardrums.

I hear the faint rattle of a new plastic bottle rolling into place as a customer takes one out of the refrigerator, and look up instantly. A cold drink is often the last item customers take before coming to the checkout till, and my body responds automatically to the sound. I see a woman holding a bottle of mineral water while perusing the desserts and look back down. As I arrange the display of newly delivered rice balls, my body picks up information from the multitude of sounds around the store.

While our MC, Keiko is the odd one out in the societal bubble of the convenience store, she has now deliberately put on masks of conventionality taking cues from her coworkers and her schoolmates. She has now camouflaged her way to survival and yet her status as a worker in this store for 18 years is what makes her even more conspicuous.

When an unexpected arrival of a new employee tips the scales of the convenience store, Keiko acts in the scripted norms of the management and I find it quite ironic how she plays her role in the store so neatly while “failing” in the normalcy present outside of it. Keiko then manages to take on more masks as the people she meets and the expectations imposed on her age increases until she is overwhelmed.


DELVES ON THE PORTRAIT OF FEMALE CONVENTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS

Another discussion here is how age and gender roles hold significance in our lives. Women here, for example, are expected to marry, expected to have jobs in the corporate world and not just in the simple confines of a convenience store, expected to bear children, etc. etc. etc.

Keiko lacks agency and her lack of emotional needs makes her the perfect vessel to illustrate how this kind of conformity for women is also restrictive. She has this fascination with imitation and that she changes the way women around her change as well. From her clothes, her manner of speaking, and her cultivated interests are all just a veneer for her to “survive”.

This attitude of hers accurately represents how our sense of individuality is also flawed in so many ways yet we still have this sense of control on what we absorb and what we project; this leads me to my last point.


HIGHLIGHTS THE SAFETY NET OF PURPOSE

In the last parts of the book, Keiko’s masks became more muddled but were only “fixed” in a way when she realized her purpose. Keiko may lack a lot of things that constitute a socially acceptable person, but she also found something that makes her life fit the puzzle–purpose. Even if that purpose may not be what society expects her, it’s what makes her feel comfortable in her own skin. And this is probably the main takeaway I gleaned from reading this little masterpiece.

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Japanese contemporary is slowly gaining a lot of my love and I’m so excited to read more from this!


RATING

8

4

  • Have you read Convenience Store Woman as well? What did you think of it?
  • Can you recommend some Japanese contemporary books?

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagahira Book Review | Why You Should or Should Not Read This

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Title: A Little Life

Author: Hanya Yanagahira

Publication Date: March 10, 2015

Synopsis Continue reading “A Little Life by Hanya Yanagahira Book Review | Why You Should or Should Not Read This”

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey Book Review | In Which Aunt Petunia Goes to Hogwarts as Jessica Jones

Image result for magic for liarsTitle: Magic for Liars

Author: Sarah Gailey

Date Published: June 4, 2019

Rating: 5.00/5.00

Synopsis:  

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

*Trigger Warnings: Violent Deaths & Abortion

Add it on Goodreads | Buy it on Amazon

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Hello there, allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! Magic for Liars is by far the best book that I’ve read this year without any interruptions. It’s thrilling and oddly entertaining; it also reminded me so much of Jessica Jones’ (aka my favorite badass Marvel character) sleuthing only this time, in a magical setting that screamed major Hogwarts vibes. If that isn’t enough explanation for you to go and read this then let me break it all down why Magic for Liars is THE BOMB.

Humorous writing style matched with fast pacing.

These two elements combined hooked me in the core that I just can’t sleep if I did not finish reading it uninterrupted. Gailey’s writing style has such a unique flavor and she brandishes her metaphors in a not-so-flowery way yet it still manages to bloom in odd lovable ways. Take these quotes for example:

The drought-impossible velvety green lawn that surrounded the school looked like frosting waiting to have a finger run through it.

…mist was draped across the school grounds like a headache clinging to the temples of a mildly concussed and half-hungover private investigator

And my favorite of all:

The drive through the Sunol hills was as beautiful as the novocaine that comes before the drill.

Take note that the ones I quoted here are not even important shifts in the story but simply just a description. Maybe I’m just so fcking easy to please right but I digress; Gailey’s writing brings a fresh whiff of magic that I have never seen in other books before and I’m very much happy to gobble it all up in one sitting.

Other than her writing style, Magic for Liars easily propels us to the nitty-gritty of the plot without compromising the characters’ development and relationship dynamics. It draws you in instantly and never wavers with its fast yet consistent pacing. It just develops the thrill organically until it ripens right on time without any haphazard shortcuts. It’s a wonderful experience and basically the best aspects you’d want in a mystery novel.

Blends magical realism in the story without ever steering the meat of the plot to it.

This book is bound to at least explain the world building because of that glaringly obvious title and, I was pleasantly surprised how it only became a secondary factor here than potentially stealing the plot’s thunder. We only get to delve in the technical aspect in such an easy yet effective way in small to medium increments and that’s one thing I really love here. Here’s one quote that adeptly depicts the school’s magic system in terms of the students’ perspective:

So, yes, there was magic. But even the magic was distinctly teenager magic. There was something in the flavor of it that spoke to a desperate lostness, a struggle to self define; an occassional lunge toward the juvenile that said, We still get to be kids, right?

Executes dialogues and monologues in a neat flourish that leaves you wanting for more interaction.

This was easily the best thing here! Since it’s obviously a murder mystery, our MC, Ivy Gamble has to eventually interview witnesses or potential suspects. What I find interesting about it though, was how we get to probe with Ivy as she picks on the interviewee’s mannerisms, motivations, and manipulations. It’s like being in Sherlock’s head when confronted with danger and he analyzes every element present. It’s very classic detective stuff and I even loved Ivy’s character more because of how she carefully sets up her traps and reads people.

A social commentary on the fragility of sisterhood,  ones’ sense of identity and, abortion

An ache gripped my chest, sudden and overwhelming. That’s my sister. Even after everything–even with everything that was still between us, that would probably always be between us–she was my sister. I was born reaching for her.

I honestly cried in the parts where Ivy and Tabitha’s relationship was examined here because it reminded me sometimes of the distance between me and my sister. (We are definitely closer than these two though!) It reflected a lot of conflicts that sisters usually experience i.e. perpetual comparison and competition. This book also shows us how intoxicating it is to live double lives and cling to the desperation of it coming true. This hit close to home and I find myself teary-eyed looking at my sister while reading this. Good thing she’s fast asleep so I don’t get any weird faces from her!

The aspect of abortion is actually a major spoiler here but I really have to include it because of its importance and for trigger warnings. This was actually the first book I’ve read that has this representation and it was in some way divulges on how people view abortion as an immoral act without ever thinking on the repercussions it has on the girl. I liked that we get to see women supporting women in this book when it comes to this sensitive matter because it NEEDS TO BE SAID. Women need to have a choice, and maybe taking a baby’s life would be strongly questionable to some, but it’s a whole different picture when you’re the one who is actually carrying the baby in such a young age. I’m kinda touchy here because I know a friend who has been in this place and it was such an eye-opener for me. I hope you open your eyes too when you read this.

Ruefully entertaining and ripe for the taking.

I read this in one sitting and I was exhilarated when I finished it! The clincher of this murder mystery will manipulate you to no end because at one point I swear I was ready to be disappointed with its predictability. Oh was I so wrong. This is again the best books that I’ve read this year and I’ll definitely be watching out for more of Sarah Gailey’s future books! Can you believe that this is actually her debut?

4

  • Have you read Magic for Liars? If so, what did you think of it?
  • Do you watch Jessica Jones? FANGIRL WITH ME PLEASE.
  • What’s one thing you think you’ll like in this book?

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Buddy Review | Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3)Title: Catwoman: Soulstealer

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Date Published: August 7, 2018

Rating: 4.00/5.00

Synopsis:  When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing

Add it on Goodreads | Buy it on Book Depository

Banner (1)Hello there allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! This marks the end of my buddy read-view with  Justine! We’ve previously buddy reviewed Wonder Woman: Warbringer as well as Batman: Nightwalker. Our buddy read-view was such a fun AND patient experience, I’ve become more immersed with the book blogging community since meeting Justine and doing these series! Now let’s hop on to the review.

1. With the hype surrounding the author, did it ever intimidate you reading? How was your reading experience?

Truth be told I was kind of excited and wary of reading this. SJM’s Throne of Glass series has been quite hyped all over in the bookish community, even my younger sister who doesn’t usually read that many books gorged this up. It feels like the Game of Thrones TV series to me because everyone I adore seems to scream at me figuratively (albeit indirectly and noncommital) that I HAVE to read/watch it. The pressure’s breaking me HAHAHAH.

However, for my first SJM read it was definitely a welcome surprise! I love her writing and this somehow persuaded me to read ACOTAR soon.

2. How would you describe Selina, Luke, Ivy, and Harley in 4 adjectives and 1 GIF?

I LOVE THIS QUESTION SO MUCH HHHNNGGRR. GIFs have been my guilty pleasures lately HAHAHA.

Selina – Resilient, Well-Prepared, Prone-to-sacrificing-herself-kind-of-attitude, Smort!

Luke – Sexy (goddangit Luke why do you have to be so attractive?), Unwavering, Indignant, Collected.

Ivy – Progressive, Believer, Heartwarming, Selfless

Harley – Impulsive, Calculating (in her own way), Creative, Striking.

3. Do you have a favorite (non-spoilery) scenes from the book?

I really enjoyed the introductory part when we get to see Selina as a fighter before being Catwoman as well as how she switches into her constructed persona while undercover.

4. If you were to create a mini playlist for the book what songs would you include?

HMMMM a mini playlist??? The songs that I’m putting for this playlist may not correlate with the plot but more of the vibe of this book. Wow, I quite enjoyed creating this! Make sure to listen to these bands/ artists and their other albums! These question forced me to revisit my favorite bands aaaaaahhhhhh.

I didn’t expect to enjoy making this playlist so much!!!!!! Thank you Justine!

6. Overall thoughts and what was it like reading the book?

This was an unexpected favorite and while I didn’t pick on it after the first few chapters I grew to love this book as it progressed. It doesn’t have a unique plot that I may say, but what I find endearing here the most is the relationships Selina have, how she continues to change, and how it handles sensitive issues like PTSD, mental health, and women empowerment. I highly recommend everyone to read this!

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The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt Blog Tour | A Homage to Every Awkward & Romance-deprived Artistic Teen

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Title: The Boy Next Story

Author: Tiffany Schmidt

Date Published: May 21, 2019

Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks

Rating: 3.75 /5.00

Synopsis:  The second book in a series where your favorite literary characters come to life, inspired by the timeless classic, Little Women!

There’s no one better than the boy next door. At least not according to Aurora Campbell, fourteen, who has been in love with Tobias May since their very first sandbox kiss. The problem is, he’s in love with her older sister, Merrilee. And Merri is already dating one of his best friends.

Rory is learning all about pining as her class reads The Great Gatsby, a book she doesn’t find “great” at all. Also not great—her GPA, something she needs to fix, quickly, if she’d like to apply for the chance to spend a week studying art with her hero in New York City over winter break. But when Ms. Gregoire assigns her to read Little Women for extra credit, Rory discovers more than she expected—both about herself and Toby. Maybe she wasn’t in love with the boy next door. . . but the boy next story.

Love is complicated, and it’s all about to get even trickier for Rory at Reginald R. Hero Prep . . . where with the help of one quirky English teacher, students’ fantasies come true, often with surprising consequences.

Add it on Goodreads | Buy it on Amazon

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Hello there allies, archenemies and everyone in between! Today is my stop for another blog tour by The Fantastic Flying Book Club. The Boy Next Story may be the second book for Bookish Boyfriends but you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy this! (On that note, I think I’ll fairly like the first book)

Endearingly relatable and reminiscent of the awkward and clunky teen phase.

Just once, can’t I identify with the star? Why am I always the secondary character? The second choice? Gatsby, Amy–don’t I get to be the hero in fiction?

Delving into this book was quite daunting at first because I didn’t realize until then that the MC is 15 here. I thought that this might not appeal to me anymore and I’m scared to feel apathetic if I find the usual tropes for YA Contemporary here. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Well, I had the sweat part down and totally needed a new deodarant, one that was Hero High panic-proof.

Rory is awkward, an introvert, a vegan, an artist, and has a hopeless crush on her childhood friend and neighbor Toby. Cute right? I’m currently in architecture school (in my last year) and reading about Rory’s inclination to the arts and her tendencies sparked nostalgia. I mean, I’m not as amazing as Rory’s talent for drawing but, I loved how Tiffany Schmidt fleshed out the aspect of art here that reminded me so much of my creative process when I was a teen up to this day. This was quite personal for me and I can’t help but feel so elated to see my teenage self represented here.

Her fears, her doubts, her excessive overthinking, her awkward and clunky self was quite hilarious, cringy, and undoubtedly relatable and believable. I think if you look closely we all could find parts of our vulnerable selves in Rory.

It’s not just a love story. It’s a story of self-growth, self-worth and, discusses the importance of a healthy nurturing environment for an adolescent.

YA Contemporary was once notorious for the absence of family support in their storylines. However, this kind of landscape now seems to shift as the years go by and The Boy Next Story is no different in following this route. I love how this book reinforces the importance of a family and a healthy social circle to a teenager realistically and how it influences and projects their disposition in life. I could not stress this enough, but realistic representation of a family’s influence on belief systems of an individual is a must have for every coming of age book.

Does not gloss over sensitive issues and subtopics while adeptly discussing them in a simplified manner.

One thing I liked about this as well is how we get to be introduced to other interests like musical scores, the arts, sibling dynamics, high school woes, the malleable nature of friendships, the multifaceted concept of privilege and, even a commentary on vegans.

On vegans:

People assume that vegans are moralistic and when they find out I’m not one hundred percent committed…you’d think I’d gone out and slaughtered the animals myself, or that they’d just won some big victory because I ate butter.

Truth be told, I salute vegans and their lifestyles but reading a nuanced take on their choices is quite refreshing and educational.

On privileges:

We had more than a lot of people had, and I was lucky, but sometimes it was hard to keep perspective when surrounded by classmates who lived like Gatsby.

Rory’s comment on this one reminded me of the social pressures every teenager feels in a high school because let’s face it, we all experience this. (or so I think) Studying from a private high school is a privilege but as a teenager, one would usually fail to appreciate one’s own privileges when faced with so much more from others.

On friendships and love:

Maybe that’s why math and I never get along–I wanted the least balanced relationship in the world to work. I kept trying to force the variables into a solution.

I held my breath, because I wanted to be his no one. The person he had all sorts of first shares with. But more than that, I wanted to be here and hear him in this moment and not be caught up in my own daydreams and swoons that I missed the reality. I’d done that before. More and more I was realizing how often I’d done that: projected the Toby in my head onto the guy beside me instead of appreciating the flawed and fantastic person he was.

On siblings:

“Girl talk.” Merri said it like a demand. like a threat. And it sort of felt like that way, like confessions were going to be removed with a dental drill or pulled with my fingernails.

On art and music:

New York is  a combination of breatheless beauty and soul-stealing sorrow. But even its poverty and garbage can be picturesque with the right framing and backdrop. As an artist, I’m trained to look for compositions. It’s enough to make me forget for a moment that that pile of trash bags is someone’s belongings, or that that blackened toe peeking out from tattered cardboard is someone’s foot. Those are the type of reminders I need–the ones that cancel out all the promise of mystery and beauty and force me to consider things with rational thoughts. Because New York City does that–it teases you with ambition, the type that;s swept up Nick Carraway. But it also doesn’t hide the carcasses of other people’s smashed dreams. The trick is to force yourself to see them.

There were moments when the composition made my blood race with secondand suspense. Moments it slowed in sympathy for whatever sadness was being conveyed. And a moment where the music matched my own hapiness.

Reiterates (ironically) the influential powers a book possesses.

This book is about a girl finding her self through a book’s influence. What a perfect premise. I love that this effectively does that to Rory as well as to the readers!

I know you’re off for some big adventures over break, but the right book can help you stay grounded, keep you connected to home…and make things a little easier, or at least a little clearer when those you love disappoint you.

The Boy Next Story might not be appealing to some at first, but it is definitely worth a read with its wholesome message.

About the Author

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Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a SignBright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family book 1). She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. You can find out more about her and her books at:

Website |  Goodreads | Twitter  | Tumblr  | Instagram | Facebook

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Book Giveaway!

Win a copy of BOOKISH BOYFRIENDS: THE BOY NEXT STORY byTiffany Schmidt (US Only)

Start Date: 21stMay 2019
End Date: 4thJune 2019

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Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz Book Review | A Wholesome Tale of Killer Clowns & Premonitions of Death

Related imageTitle: Life Expectancy

Author: Dean Koontz

Date Published: October 25, 2005

Rating: 5.00/5.00

Synopsis:  Jimmy Tock comes into the world on the very night his grandfather leaves it. As a violent storm rages outside the hospital, Rudy Tock spends long hours walking the corridors between the expectant fathers’ waiting room and his dying father’s bedside. It’s a strange vigil made all the stranger when, at the very height of the storm’s fury, Josef Tock suddenly sits up in bed and speaks coherently for the first and last time since his stroke.

What he says before he dies is that there will be five dark days in the life of his grandson – five dates whose terrible events Jimmy will have to prepare himself to face. The first is to occur in his 20th year; the second in his 23rd year; the third in his 28th; the fourth in his 29th; the fifth in his 30th.

Rudy is all too ready to discount his father’s last words as a dying man’s delusional rambling. But then he discovers that Josef also predicted the moment of his grandson’s birth to the minute, as well as his exact height, weight, and the fact that Jimmy would be born with syndactyly – the unexplained anomaly of fused digits on his left foot. Suddenly, the old man’s predictions take on a chilling significance.

What terrifying events await Jimmy on these five dark days? What nightmares will he face? What challenges must he survive? As the novel unfolds, picking up Jimmy’s story at each of these crisis points, the path he must follow will defy every expectation. And with each crisis he faces, he will move closer to a fate he could never have imagined. For who Jimmy Tock is and what he must accomplish on the five days his world turns is a mystery as dangerous as it is wondrous – a struggle against an evil so dark and pervasive only the most extraordinary of human spirits can shine through.

Add it on Goodreads | Buy it on Book Depository

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Hello there, allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! Today I’ll be reviewing my favorite book of the year (for now because it’ll obviously change at some point)  which was written by Dean Koontz aka The Deflowering Killer! Sorry, that was just an exaggeration and a bit inappropriate; what I meant here is that Dean Koontz actually introduced my poor innocent 14-year-old self into the nitty-gritty world of Psychological Thrillers without any trigger warning. Yup ohohohoboy was I changed forever.

Life Expectancy is no different from Dean Koontz’ masterpieces. However, it seems to have one of those unexpected heartwarming vibe that is sparsely seen in his books. (Or in the books that I’ve read from him, that is.)

Humorous storytelling that grips your attention despite the grotesque nature of the narrative.

Koontz’ writing has a distinct flavor with its contrasting natures. He uses a wide array of vocabulary without ever disrupting the reader’s attention. He explores grotesque yet compelling concepts and still manage to force the reader into reading it. He is a fcking genius and all I can ever say is…HOW???? Life Expectancy is formatted as a biography written by Jimmy, the main character. There is always humor present in the narration even if the scene is kind of a life or death situation. This is certainly why I became attached to Jimmy’s character and grew to love all the other characters as well.

Eccentric well fleshed out characters that are equal parts entertaining and endearing.

When we fail to see the eccentricities in ourselves and to be amused by them, we become monsters of self-regard.

Every character in this book was well fleshed out, amen to that; this is in fact, Dean Koontz’ signature. Even if the character will just appear in one chapter, he is able to present them uniquely and pin down their personalities, family background, and their oddities. You don’t even have to read a whole lot more because they’re introduced efficiently in a matter of 2 paragraphs.

With that said here is the main cast of the story:

  1. Jimmy Tock – He calls himself a “lummox” and he is the subject of 5 terrible days as seen by his grandfather just before he died. A pastry baker with a penchant for books and loves his family dearly. Jimmy is an unfortunate victim to destiny and quite became a cynic because of it yet, he sees life in such a hopeful way despite him constantly denying it. His fluid and humorous narration had me cracking up!
  2. Rudy and Maddy Tock – Jimmy’s parents are the kind of parents you would want to have in your life and also kind of don’t want to have? Their eccentricities are too much for me but they are endearing characters that contributed a lot of growth to Jimmy. They are quite a contrasting and complementary pair.
  3. Rowena Tock – Jimmy’s grandmother; she’s an unapologetic beast and will try anything to wreak your childhood with her unconventional stories. She’s one of my favorites in this book and it is apparent that she’s also the one that glues them all together with her eccentricities.
  4. Lorrie Lynn Hicks – Jimmy’s casualty. Thanks to a series of clownscaping events we get to meet the ever-indignant and the self-proclaimed “indefatigable optimist” Lorrie. She’s such a darling and a deadly one too. I love her characterization and I commend Dean Koontz for making her the way she is without ever being compartmentalized by the “male gaze”.
  5. Konrad Beezo – Ladies and gents, I present to you our psychotic killer clown! His name is quite fitting for his occupation don’t you think? While Lorrie may be an indefatigable optimist he is, on the other hand, an indefatigable psycho. Hell-bent on his personal quest to be the best clown in the world. I’m not even joking. He IS a killer clown.
  6. Punchinello Beezo – Yeah, I know poor boy. I can’t imagine all the stress with living each day using that name but he is far more charming and crazy. He’s also Konrad’s son and welp! Clownmania runs in the blood.

While Life Expectancy might have a weird premise (what with the appearance of oddities and killer clowns in the mix) it also imparts valuable commentaries on familial love and how they shape us.

Familial love presented in all it’s misshapen forms.

Every family is eccentric in its own way, however, as is each human being. Like the Tocks, they have their tics.

When introducing his family, Jimmy states that they are “odd and quite singular” and despite it, he loves them just the way they are. In this book, we get to see how one’s family can be one of the deciding factors on who you become; whether that may be for the good or the bad.

A compelling commentary on moral compasses driven by situational forces and staying as the “Indefatigable Optimism” in the midst of death.

Life Expectancy reiterates how we could all be subject to the mercy of situational forces, and that we can also overcome them to be our better selves. Yes, situational forces out of our control can be blamed for what becomes of us but we are the ones shaping our destinies, not our horrible pasts. It takes a lot of courage and resilience to rise above these I know, and as much as cliche and insensitive it may sound to others, sometimes it’s a matter of constantly changing your mindset and the belief that you CAN deviate from that terrible path you think you’re destined with.

It also skirts on solipsism which is the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist. It’s the first time that I’ve heard of this and this quote adeptly conveys it:

Maybe it’s our free will misdirected or just shameful pride, but we live our lives with the conviction that we stand at the center of the drama. Moments rarely come that put us outside ourselves, that divorce us from our egos and force us to see the larger picture, to recognize hat the drama is in fact a tapestry and that each of us is but a thread in the vivid weave, yet each thread essential to the integrity of the cloth.

This book had started with excitement and terror and oddities; it also ended with these three but, with such a heartwarming and wholesome ending. One that goes full circle and one that will forever be my favorite in books to come.

I do not define life expectancy by the length of life, however, but by the quality of it, by what I expect from it and by how well my expectations are met.

The more you love, the more you will be loved. The more you give, the more you will receive. Life proves that truth to me every hour, everyday. And life continues to surprise.

I just can’t help but glow while reading this. It feels like my heart is filled with all the fluff in the world. (Also, that quote above isn’t exactly the ending so you don’t have to worry)

I implore you to read this book. PLEASE READ IT. It’s amazing and odd and so wholesome. I will forever love it.

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