Saturday 22 December 2012

357. Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes

Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes
Published November 2012 Quercus

From the publisher:
Yukio's two best friends are dead. Tormented and blackmailed by the Yakuza – the Japanese mafia – they have taken their own lives. Yukio is a kendo champion and he knows all the stories of the samurai.
Heartbroken and furious, he is determined to avenge the deaths of his beloved Hiroshi and Miko. And so begins a deadly struggle between Yukio and the Yakuza, and between Yukio's capacity for love, and his thirst for revenge.
Shot through with the beauty of Tokyo in spring, this is an unforgettable and uncompromising read.

A book about the Japanese Mafia with a Warning: Not For Younger Readers on the back, this has the makings of a must read for action loving boys everywhere!  Three Japanese teenagers, friends since childhood, who are as close as siblings.  One night while at an underage night club, and a chance meeting with Riko and Louise, nieces to a gangster godfather in the Japanese Mafia, the yakuza and their friend Kako changes everything. 

While Yukio is away on holidays, his friends Miko and Hiroshi start spending time with Kako.  The twins were asked to help with an old gambling debt, and as result an old man became badly hurt.  The twins found themselves in deep trouble and being blackmailed.  This is the start of the older content, because although it’s not described in detail, Miko was forced to have sex with Kako, and he filmed it, claiming he would show it to her grandfather if they didn’t do what he asked.  The shame of what they were asked to do, is enough for the twins to commit suicide, and it’s their deaths that Yukio must avenge.  

Let me tell you that it become obvious quite quickly after this point as to why there is a warning on the back of the book.  Yukio digs out his family’s samurai sword, gets it sharpened and starts to plot his revenge.  Kako is his first target, and with his skills in kendo and a sharpened sword, he makes quick work of him.  Then it’s Louise and a few body guards and then his killing escalates into anyone who has anything to do with the yazuka.   His final kill is the one that is his undoing, and it is unexpected. 

The other storyline that threads it’s way through this tale is the relationship Yukio has with his simple cousin the Lump.  She might not say much, but her presence is somewhat stabilising to Yukio. Her leaving is the point when things really get out of control fro Yukio.

Yukio goes from vengeful killer to a full on insane psychopath by the end of the novel.  I think some degree of suspended belief may be required for this one, as while I understand the Japanese feelings of honour, the extremes Yukio goes to is a bit much.  That said, this book will appeal to boys who have a love of martial arts, as Samurai way is a real theme in this book. 

Who will like this book: Boys age 14+
Read it if you like: martial arts

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