For general information on this novel: Another entry
This review is for Another, the novel by Yukito Ayatsuji. The story was originally told in two volumes, and for the English translation in digital format the first volume was released in March 2013, followed by the second volume in July 2013. A hardback omnibus edition was later released by Yen Press (via the imprint Yen On) in English during October 2014.
Another is a mystery horror novel about a boy named Koichi Sakakibara who moves from Tokyo to a small town called Yomiyama, transferring to a class that has a very mysterious and foreboding history. Class 3-3 has many horror stories–but are any of them to be believed? Koichi begins to question such a possibility as he notes some of the suspicious ways his classmates act. The quiet student who stands out the most though is Mei Misaki–a peculiar girl who always wears an eyepatch, and who seems to go about the days at school without anyone (save for Koichi) ever noticing her. The mysteries surrounding Mei and Class 3-3 are gradually unraveled over the course of the story, which is well-paced in regard to its plot developments and reveals.
I had seen the anime adaptation for Another back when it first aired in winter of 2012, and I imagine that will be the case for a lot of people interested in picking up the novel to read the story’s original source. Unfortunately this does mean that very few of the plot twists will come as a surprise, which can make for a bit of a dull read if you’re not invested in the reading experience. If you are new to the Another franchise and are curious about it though, I will suggest picking up the book first, as the anime changes a number of things that ultimately paint a different picture. (I will save an analysis of the anime in comparison to the book for a later editorial.)
All that said, I still quite enjoyed reading Another, despite already knowing the answers to all the mysteries beforehand. This is largely thanks to the prose itself, which I feel was handled very well by the translator. Each chapter is a smooth read, and the plot advances at a steady enough pace to make the book a good page-turner. The concept behind the central conflict is a fascinating one, and the author does well to examine the situation in an engaging and thought-provoking manner. Similarly, the story does a particularly good job at showing Koichi’s thought process, as he continually works with newly-discovered information and pieces together the puzzle of the overarching mysteries. I also quite liked learning about Mei’s backstory over the course of the novel, which I felt managed to effectively get across an interesting theme that tied well with the rest of the narrative.
Overall Another should do well to satisfy readers looking to mull over and attempt working out a unique and dark mystery–but it can also be of interest to those who have watched the anime or read the manga, and are in the mood to re-experience the story through the original source.
Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended