Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Reviewed by Jen: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by Yasutaka Tsutsui.

Product details:
Publisher: Alma Books Ltd.
Release date: May 25th 2011.
Paperback, 200 pages.
Rating: 2 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by : Jen

One of Tsutsui’s best-known and most popular works in his native Japan, The Girl Who Leapt through Time is the story of fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Kazuko, who accidentally discovers that she can leap back and forth in time. In her quest to uncover the identity of the mysterious figure that she believes to be responsible for her paranormal abilities, she’ll constantly have to push the boundaries of space and time, and challenge the notions of dream and reality.

After the success of Paprika, Hell, The Maid and Salmonella Men on Planet Porno, this is the fifth work by one of the greatest and most acclaimed living Japanese writers to be translated in English, displaying all the author’s dry humour and relish for the absurd.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an English translation of the original book by famed Japanese Sci-fi writer Yasutaka Tsutsui.   Since it’s release in 1967 the story has been adapted into a movie and manga book of the same name.  Given the popularity of both the film and the book many YA fans were eagerly anticipating the release of the English translation of the original story.  Unfortunately, the filmmakers took great liberties with the plot and the manga book is based on the film rather than the original story written by Tsutsui.  Due to the constraints of when the piece was written and the translation from Japanese to English The Girl Who Leapt Through Time fails to stand on it’s own as a novel that will appeal to a wide variety of readers. 

To begin with, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is actually a short story rather than a complete novel.  Also included in this edition is a translation of another Tsutsui short story, The Stuff that Nightmares are Made of.  Each story is written in a very stark prose that does nothing to guide the reader into a visualization of the story.  In fact, the writing and the plot lines come across as very generic and unimaginative, while the characters are completely flat. Both stories seem more appropriate for an elementary basal reader than as a stand alone YA novel.  The situations and dialog between the characters is dated.  The Girl Who Leapt Through Time deals with the idea of teleportation becoming a reality by the year 2660.  Teleportation was a popular topic in science fiction during the 1960’s, but now the idea is almost prosaic given the advancement of technology.  In The Stuff that Nightmares are Made of the main characters younger brother is terrorized by his mother who threatens to “cut his weenie off” if he continues to play with girls.  The point of the story is to face and overcome your fears, yet it is done in a way that seems more absurd than realistic. 

Overall I chose to give The Girl Who Leapt Through Time 2 out of 5 stars.  I do not see today’s YA audience relating to these stories at all.  Rather than promoting this book as a YA title I feel that it is written more at an upper elementary level.  Appropriate for a 4th or 5th grader rather than a teen or adult reader.  Also, fans of the movie and manga will be disappointed in this book.  The flair and visualization that have made those so popular is clearly missing from the original work.


  1. Great review! I have never heard of this book but the title definitely catches my eye. Too bad it wasn't what you expected. Thanks for the review!

  2. Sorry this one didn't work out for you Jen. From the blurb I thought it might be enjoyable, but it definitely sounds quite dated.

    Blog update: I've been informed that people are having problems commenting on the blog. It looks like blogger is playing up again! Hopefully things will be back to normal soon!

  3. I'm sorry that this book didn't work for you. It seems that things were "lost in translation." ha. And you are so right about teleporting being more 1960s. Whenever I think of teleporting, I think of Star Trek. ha. Anyway, thanks for the honest review, Leanna.

  4. I'm glad that you put the effort into such a balanced review though, Leanna. You put thought into pointing out what didn't work, and that makes more sense than having torn it apart. Fabulous take :)

  5. I'm sorry to hear that the book is disappointing. Flat characters and unimaginative plotlines don't work for me either. Thanks for the review!

  6. Great honest review. This doesn't sound like my kind of read either.

  7. Just to point out that while I also think this is a very well written and informative review, I didn't write it! This review is by Jen. :)

  8. You can take the credit Leanna, I don't mind :-) I passed this book on to a student of mine who is from Japan. She was really excited to read it, so I am interested to hear what she thinks. I'll keep you posted!


  9. Thanks Jen - I'd love to know what your student thinks of the book!

    I retitled the post, so now it's pretty clear the review is by you. lol! x

  10. Shame you didn't enjoy this one. I actually got it last week and was excited but not so any more!
    Thanks for the honest review, you have lots of reasons as to why you gave it the stars you did!

  11. I am so glad you posted this review because I considered reading and reviewing this book. I'm not that into short stories especially if they have no relating potential


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