The protagonist of this novel grows up in a kind of cult (formed by his father) where he is told at some point that he was born to be a cancer on the world. This is not clearly spelled out for a very long time what exactly this means. But it’s a terrible and abusive cult and system nonetheless. Along with an adopted sister, he plots to and eventually kills his father and escapes. He grows up, changes his face through plastic surgery, and tries to use his new identity to research and eventually destroy the cult and his family. Along the way, he tries to figure out what kind of life he’s still able to have.
This is a strange novel and one I would have found even stranger if I hadn’t already read Cult X by Fuminori Nakamura which takes this same basic plot and twists it in some different directions. I didn’t particularly like that book and wanted to try again. I like this book better, but I am not sure that I actually like it at all. I might just dislike it less than I did the other book. I think the issue is that I can’t quite take it seriously. This purports to be a kind of demimonde novel, and it certainly takes place within that context, but the rendering of the life and the world never feels particularly underworld. It’s like the novel (or maybe it’s the translation) can’t quite convince me that the world actually exists at all, or that if it does, it’s that bad. It fails at the noir part, and given how much the rest of the novel feels like some pretty straightforward navelgazing for someone with a weird set of circumstances, the whole thing never really comes together.