Author: Novala Takemoto
Publisher: Shueisha English Edition
Genre: Fiction/YA (Goth/Lolita)
*I could not locate this title for purchase or pre-order on Amazon. I am also unsure of the exact number of pages. This was an eBook, and the formatting was off on my Kindle. I completed this in roughly an hour and a half.
First of all, I received a copy of Emily from NetGalley and the publisher Shueisha in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this title. Emily is a collection of three short stories told in first person view, Emily being the main and final story of this collection. I don’t normally do this, but here is the GoodReads synopsis:
A lonely high school girl finds nowhere she feels at ease, so every day she visits a famous shopping mall in downtown Tokyo, wearing the only clothes she can relate to, Emily Temple cute, a Lolita designer’s brand. After school she hangs out in front of the Emily Temple cute shop, identifying herself with that brand. Then she meets another lonely soul, clad in another designer’s brand. But this turns out not just to be an ordinary boy-meets-girl relationship. Both kids have their own miseries. They might look like quintessential Japanese Otaku nerds, but they’re only too human. Their awkward friendship builds as they each suffer from bullying and harassment, as well as worry about their futures. A very contemporary fable, told in the spirit of the Victorian novels and fashion that embody the Lolita lifestyle, “Emily” was a finalist for the annual Yukio Mishima Prize, a literary award in Japan.
The collection includes two more stories, “Corset” and “Readymade,” introducing you to the apparently strange world of outsiders today. Through the magical storytelling of Novala Takemoto, tragedy ends in happiness and optimism. This volume is the most favorite title of the author’s devoted readers in Japan, and when you read it, you’ll surely relate to the geek aspect of contemporary culture.
Sigh, this is hard. I do not like handing out one star reviews. But here we are. I just couldn’t find my own personal appreciation for Emily. It did not work for me. I tried. I gave it a seriously fair effort, but I could not.
There were a few positive notes. The author chose to tell each story from a first-person point of view. I was able to appreciate this, as I rarely encounter first-person. So the perspective given was interesting. This was a short and easy read. So if you are looking for something to fill a small time period, liking waiting to be called back to your appointment, hey this works. That’s positive, right..? Actually I do not recommend this to fill your time, so please scratch that.
Oh, the cover was cute.. yeah I just used the term “cute” to describe the cover. I am so sorry. I have nothing else. I am honestly, fumbling to pull some positives out of this. I give up.
Here is what really happened:
This was boring. Like “pull your hair” out boring. Each story told was depressing and centered around art or fashion and just droned on. It felt so dry and there was no climax. Reading this actually hurt. It hurt worse to know I was going to review it afterwards.
Our first story Readymade was highfalutin and tedious to read. It didn’t even feel complete enough to label as a story. I was left confused and asking myself what the point was.
Corset is where it really fell apart for me. The story made sense, but again it was bland with a capital B. This is where the unexpected sexual content began. Awkward..
Emily sealed the deal on this one star rating. I know that this was classified on NetGalley as Goth/Lolita, but I seriously took from the synopsis that this was strictly in terms of style and fashion. I was not prepared for the uncomfortable and very graphic sexual scenes that occurred with the young teenagers. I am not even going to elaborate the details in this post. Lesson learned.
And to add icing to the cake, the ending was ridiculous. That is it? I just gave over an hour of my time for this..? What just happened? It just stopped abruptly. Done, no more. Although I cannot actually complain about that at this point. Sad.
There was zero reminiscence of Victorian novels in these stories. Unless, you are seriously going to count the clothing as a reasonable means to justify that statement. Sorry, but fashion does not make a novel Victorian. Add what appears to be poor formatting and maybe a translation issue, it only gets worse. We are dealing with insult to injury at this point. This is not something I would ever willing choose to read again. I have always tried to begin and end on a positive note, but sometimes it just can’t be. I cannot recommend this title. I am sure there is an audience for Emily somewhere, but not here.