Saturday, 26 July 2014

Book Review: Heaven's Net is Wide (Otori Trilogy Prequel) by Lian Hearn

This prequel to the Otori Tales is the very last piece of the puzzle and is meant to answer all of our burning questions about the series. Problem is, the final book already did this threefold. So what’s this last book really about?

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"Heaven’s Net is Wide is the last part of the Otori tales and the prequel to the other four books. It follows the story of Shigeru before he found Takeo, the Three Countries before they were under the thumb of Iida Sadamu and it expands on some of the mysteries that are hinted at within the trilogy itself.

Bored to the point of book selfies
What’s good about it?
There were some particularly touching moments which made you as the reader feel almost proud to witness such as snippets from Takeo’s past, the transformation from boyhood to adulthood in Shigeru and Takeshi and the love between Akane and Shigeru.

The book expanded on the persecution of the Hidden which was interesting to see from personal view rather than it being talked about along with the other clan politics. It made the desperation of the people feel more real and rooted you for their cause. Perhaps expanding on that rather than the constant emphasis that ‘Shigeru is patient’ (readers will completely understand my pain here) would have been a better direction.

Again, the rich imagery of these books comes up beautifully and in this book in particular, it was its saving grace. The descriptive passages are beautiful and while there are a lot of them, they never seem to get boring or become repetitive. The depth of the colour is wonderful and aesthetically, this would make for a very pleasing film.

What isn't so great?
Perhaps I expected too much or my eagerness to put the Otori tales to bed and crack on with a new book made this all the worse but to put it plainly, this book was boring. The only mildly exciting parts were dimmed by the fact that we already knew the outcome thanks to it being a prequel and it offered next to no exciting new information besides revealing small mysteries which weren’t that intriguing in the first place and would have been better kept unsolved. 

The romance between Lady Naomi and Shigeru is another odd part of the book. These people barely know each other, have sex once, and are then suddenly passionate lovers who only see each other once in a blue moon to have sex and worry about politics. It seemed like a very odd pairing and the lack of depth just made it feel as though it was hastily put together by Hearn for the sake of adding more interest. The little we witness of the couple in the Otori tales tricks us into thinking that there is some complex, romantic backstory to this couple and it’s such a huge disappointment when there just isn’t much substance to it at all.
The ending.
Well I’m firmly against spoilers so I’ll keep my words short but the ending is a disappointment, there isn’t really a big climax of the book. It’s just dull reading with occasionally interesting interruptions. It’s sweet but the whole book just lacks any punch whatsoever.

This is the last book in the Otori tales and from now on as university prep I’ll be reading a lot more non-fiction so my reviews may not be as often but keep posted, I’ll pop up with one when you least expect it!”

(Read 7 - 16th July, 2014)

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