Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kamakazi Girls - Novala Takemoto

Leonardo totally approves of this book, because Leonardo is in touch with his feminine side.

I agree with Leonardo. I don't remember exactly why I picked up this book, but I'm glad I did. I went through a brief, three book stint of not particularly wanting to read any speculative genres, and I think this was the most fun of those books, and the most surprisingly awesome bestest.

(Disclaimer: I've just come off nightshift and I'm doing my staying up through the day to crash my sleep pattern back to normal. I'm not responsible for anything. At all. Ever. Not even my sentences.)

It is the story of two girls, one a Yanki and the other a Lolita, practically polar opposites when it comes to subcultures. Of course they fall in with each other, they're doomed to from the very beginning.

This is not the story of their growing friendship. Ichigo's impassioned speech at the end summarises precisely why they're not friends, and exactly why they'll always be there for each other. It is a story of being true to yourself, no matter what the cost.

At first, I was appalled at Momoko's first person narration. A Lolita consumed by an intense pursuit for a Rococo spirit and lifestyle, she came across as gobsmackingly selfish, self-aborbed, shallow and callous. It isn't a large book, but after the first chapter I did wonder if I wanted to put up with her the whole way. This wondering happened while I read, and read, and found myself deep in the book. First impressions, you know, they really aren't everything. The selfishness and callousness were the symptoms of a breath-stealing determination to pursue her dream, no matter what the cost. No matter what thet cost. She discard practicality and comfort and friends and company for this dream ofa Rococo lifestyle. Beneath the frills and lace, she's fucking hardcore.

Ichigo initially comes across as a naive fool, striving to be fulfill that Yanki dream of riding around in a biker gang until getting knocked up and having a shotgun wedding and 'graduating', although she failed her motorcycle licence test and only rides a scooter. It's easy to assume she's yet another dumb girl being led astray by falling in with the wrong crowd, but like Momoko, it's a first impression, and like Momoko, she's chasing her dream down, damn the consequences.

"Because Yanki are so uncool."
"Did you just dis my entire life?"
"Well, yeah."
"I'll fucking kick your ass."
"Go ahead, if you want to."
"You ask me, you're the one who's uncool, wearing those frilly-ass outfits when you're in high school already."
"They're not 'frilly-ass', they're Lolita."
"What's the fucking difference?"
"There's a world of difference."
"I'll kill you, I swear."
"Go ahead."

I love it. The book is full of clashes just like that. Neither grasps the other's choice, both thinks the other is just fucking ridiculous, and I want to reach in and tell them they're both daft and brillant.

This book is very well written, and exceptionally well translated. At no point did I feel that I was reading a translation, real care has be put into the english version. It isn't translated, it's written.

I want to say it isn't a girly book, because it isn't...but I think that maybe only girls will really get it.

Verdict: This is not a "heart-warming tale of two girls growing up in the country", it is a brilliant, brilliant, brillant piece of writing about knowing who you are.

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