1985. Kazumasa Yuuki, a seasoned reporter at the North Kanto Times, runs a daily gauntlet against the power struggles and office politics that plague its newsroom. But when an air disaster of unprecedented scale occurs on the paper’s doorstep, its staff are united by an unimaginable horror, and a once-in-a-lifetime scoop.
2003. Seventeen years later, Yuuki remembers the adrenaline-fuelled, emotionally charged seven days that changed his and his colleagues’ lives. He does so while making good on a promise he made that fateful week – one that holds the key to its last unsolved mystery, and represents Yuuki’s final, unconquered fear.
*Thank you to the publisher, Quercus Books/Riverrun, and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
In 1985, a reporter of North Kanto Times, Kazumasa Yuuki, was planning to go on a climbing expedition with his friend, Anzai. It was Anzai’s dream climb. Only, his friend didn’t show up, he had an accident. At that same moment, a Japanese Airlines jet crashed and could possibly be NKT biggest story for years, decades even. Yuuki was tasked to be the lead reporter and see through every hours development of the investigation and rescue operation that the newspaper will print. It was a big challenge to Yuuki but most especially when he was caught in the office politics and power struggles that’s been going on in the company. 17 years later, Yuuki is going to do the same expedition in honor of Anzai, this time he’s going to climb with Anzai’s son. Unexpectedly, it brings him back to that fateful seven days that changed his life.
It is my first Hideo Yokoyama and I’m really intrigued by the premise and cover. Only it took me a while to get into the story. It is certainly different from what I expect from reading the blurb as it’s more of a character-driven kind of novel. Described as an investigative thriller, it is unlike any thriller I’ve read as it was more focused on Yuuki’s character and his relationship to people around him, and what’s happening in the newspaper’s office following the biggest news that dropped on their doorstep in years. As Yuuki leads the biggest scoop, the pressure is mounting to deliver the news first and something the bosses would approve. It is interesting to get an insight into how a newspaper was made and how stressful it can get. The office politics is portrayed realistically and something that happened every time. Yuuki is a complex character and I struggle to understand and connect with him. It might be because of the culture difference. But it also made me want to know more about him, his personal and professional life. Both of which are intriguing as Yuuki finds it hard to connect to his son at home, he’s also being resented by colleagues and bosses alike at work.
There’s a lot of characters in the story and it can be hard to follow all the Japanese names especially how they call each other differently. There are also certain parts that I believe could easily be removed as I find it of no importance to the story though I appreciate the detailed description and examination of some situations. Told in two different timelines, keeping up can be confusing at times as there’s no indication between transitions. Japanese culture is so very fascinating and it’s nice to get a glimpse of it through this book. It may have less thrill than I expected but I was glad to be able to read something different. Overall, it was surprisingly a good read. A well-written novel with a very interesting mix of fact and fiction.