Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Gothic Lolita A Mystical Thriller Book Review by ChristineMM
Title: Gothic Lolita A Mystical Thriller
Author: Dakota Lane
Genre: Young Adult Ficton
Publication: Ginee Seo Books (November 25, 2008)
Full Retail Price: $17.99
My Star Rating: 4 stars out of 5 = I like it
Summary Statement: Good Escape Read, Has an Uncommon Interesting Writing Style, Liked It Despite Some Flaws
I enjoy reading young adult fiction and am interested in the current publishing trends in this genre compared to books published in this market in the 1980s when I was a ‘young adult’. I also have an interest in Japanese culture in general and have read about the ‘street fashion’ of Tokyo and the youth’s costume play (Cosplay, Gothic Lolita, Classic Lolita) at the Harajuku Bridge. Lastly as a blogger I was interested in this plot that was based on two teenaged girls who knew each other only through reading each other’s blogs (not ever communicating even by leaving comments).
I’ll be honest, this was an escape read, a pleasure read for fun. If I try to analyze the book thoroughly my review would be a laundry list of issues. I chose to not let the flaws turn me against the book entirely, even though I did predict the ending correctly. I am rating it 4 stars = I Like It.
I found the book hard to follow at first because the story is told in two voices, one the American teenaged girl and the other the Japanese teenaged girl. Unlike some other publishers choose to do, this book does not have the character’s name at the top or bottom of each page. I felt each character did not have enough of a unique voice so for the first half of the book I kept forgetting who that chapter was about and had to keep going back to the first page of the chapter to check. It wasn’t until I was half way through the book that I fully understood what was going on. Lastly the book never really discussed much of the years of the girls reading each other’s blogs (which began when they were eleven years old) which seemed to me to be important for we readers to understand what the relationship or just what interest each had in the other. It just wasn’t clear how much or why they even liked each other let alone cared for each other so deeply.
As to the title and its relevance to the book. The characters found each other’s blogs due to a shared interest in Gothic Lolita dress and Cosplay because they had listed that on their blog. However the Japanese girl is not really participating in cosplay activity in Tokyo so readers looking for a story truly set with a character doing cosplay will be disappointed. The American girl dresses in American Gothic style which has little to do with the Tokyo Street Fashion scene. The author didn’t do a thorough job in explaining the street fashion scene in Japan so if a reader doesn’t know much about it, they may not get it. I also didn’t think the book was mystical nor was it a thriller of any kind. It really was more like realistic fiction but told in a dreamy type of language, confused further by the back and forth telling of the story between two voices and the content constantly shifting from present time to events that happened in the past. Another odd thing that my mind and eyes had to get used to was reading the book entirely in lower case letters. Although this is said to be how bloggers blog honestly it is not true. Text messaging - SMS, yes that is often in lower case but not all blogs.
I read the book in a few hours when what I needed was a good escape read. Since I had the time I became engrossed in the book and read it straight through to the end, curious to see what happened, but as I already said, I guessed the finale correctly (and I wonder how many others will too).
Lastly the inclusion of the black and white photographs that tell some of the story was a creative part of the storytelling that added another level of uniqueness to the book which I enjoyed.
There are elements in a typical teenaged ‘problem novel’, imperfect and dysfunctional families,. It has a depressed parent and a suicide, another death, teenagers feeling let down, unhappy and confused and so forth. Also the little brother has some type of developmental delay issue, possibly Autism if not mental retardation.
I liked the book but didn’t love it as I felt distracted by the writing style and found it hard to put together past events to explain what was happening in the present time. I am wondering if reading the book a second time now that I understand more of the back story and know the characters more would result in me enjoying it even more, especially the dreamy writing style more thoroughly.
I predict that teenaged girls looking for a different type of writing and those interested in Japanese youth culture would enjoy this book. Since the American girl chose to leave her former school clique and chose to change to be ‘an outsider’ and a loner at school and expresses herself through interesting creative clothing (that found in trash bins or handmade) and in the Goth style, any teenaged girls who can identify or appreciate that character (the opposite of “Gossip Girl” basically) may enjoy the book.
If you are interested in a book showing current fashion trends of Tokyo (all ages and types) you may be interested in THE TOKYO LOOK BOOK. For more background information on Tokyo Street Fashion, image searches on Google and YouTube can provide details.
Read my book review of "The Tokyo Look Book" (photographs and cultural explanations of Tokyo Street Fashion)
Here is one video from YouTube:
Japanese Street Fashion (some of this is Gothic Lolita but other styles are featured here too)
Disclosure: I received an advance reading copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review for the Amazon Vine program.
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