End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
This author was recommended to me, though not this book. However, when I went to the store to buy the recommended book, it wasn't in stock. This one was, and it looked very intriguing - especially since it's partially set in Japan. (I spent 2 weeks in Japan last year, and was enthralled by the culture.)
The book started out in a good way, throwing us into some circumstances that were not clear, hinting of more information to come as the book unfolds. However, it seemed to take a very long time getting to this information, and in a way, never really did. You are left to decide for yourself what is really going on.
The narrative was quite disjointed, which made some of the plot-lines hard to track, adding to the confusion/ambiguity. Unless you read this in a single sitting, you'll find yourself constantly looking back in the book, to remind yourself of who these people are and what happened earlier. While this may be seen as a failing of the author, I wonder if perhaps it was intentional, to illustrate the disjointed nature of life as he sees it - especially the lives of the characters.
The two main characters are Neku (aka "Lady Neku"), who may be a teen street waif living by her wits or may be a time traveller from the future, and Kit Nouveau, a young British ex-pat who had some disturbing experiences in 'the war' and has a tragic and tangled love life. It was interesting to see how these two characters' lives became entwined, and I felt they were fairly well developed. But, again, the disjointed nature of the narrative and some of the wandering plot lines didn't allow the depths and impact of their relationship to be fully presented.
All in all, I enjoyed the book, but I felt like it fell short of what it could have been. I will probably read another of his books (the one actually recommended by my friend), before I make up my mind on this author.