Genocide Of One – Kazuaki Takano
February 23, 2019 § 2 Comments
First published in Japanese in 2011
Translated into English by Philip Gabriel in 2014
The President of the United States of America is presented with a problem, one of many that he has to deal with on a daily basis. To him, it seems small enough (it is, at this point, just a suspicion), and remote enough (right in the middle of the African continent), surely it can be dealt with quite easily, especially with the power he has at his disposal. What he doesn’t know, nor have the ability to comprehend, is that the enemy, the threat that he is now facing, has intelligence that is far beyond our wildest imaginations.
In the battlefield, four mercenaries are sent as a team to solve this problem–eradicate this threat. Shrouded in secrecy, they embark on their training without much clue as to who or what it is that they are supposed to eradicate. They do find out soon enough, but unbeknownst to them, the true aim of the operation is something much more sinister.
Then there is a young scientist in Japan who, completely unwillingly and unwittingly, gets tangled up in a project leftover by his father who had unexpectedly died of an aneurysm. The project itself feels dodgy and shrouded in mystery, not to mention the suspicious people who have suddenly come to talk to him regarding his father. What was he up to while he was still alive? Why were the police suddenly after him? And what was he to do with the two laptops–one of which refused to boot, and the other that ran a curious software unlike any he had ever seen?
I felt the story was a very good one. It was exciting, thrilling almost. I turned the pages wanting to find out more about the mercenaries and their journey, when they would find out the truth behind their gruesome operation. I wanted to follow the young Japanese scientist and see if he could successfully figure out what his father had left for him.
Yet at the same time, it also felt like the author was leaning on being preachy. There were many, many opinions, political and ethical ones, that I felt like the story could do without. Many of them felt two-dimensional, not quite deep enough, or complex enough, to be argued in the book, especially as these opinions did nothing to move the story forward. Some of the science explanations were also a little overbearing, smallest details being explained on the cellular, DNA level. Were these details absolutely necessary? Maybe, maybe not.
I could have enjoyed the book a lot more, I feel, if it was edited down a bit more. Did I really need to know about the President’s backstory to appreciate his decision-making process? Did I really need to know about that one time when the young scientist’s grandfather and uncle made derogatory remarks about Koreans, and his feelings about them, to appreciate his closeness and trust in his new Korean comrade?
No, I don’t think so.
Read as part of Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge 12