Foreword Reviews

My Annihilation

“Turn the page, and you may give up your entire life” begins My Annihilation, Fuminori Nakamura’s jigsaw puzzle of a novel exploring themes of connection and consequence through personal identity and responsibility.

In a remote mountain lodge, an unnamed narrator prepares to assume the identity of Ryodai Kozuka. In his room are false IDs and a journal that he assumes was left by Kozuka. There is also a locked suitcase that he suspects contains Kozuka’s body. In addition to relating Kozuka’s childhood background, the journal contains a psychological analysis of a murderer of four girls. The last page of the journal reads “YOU’D BETTER RUN.”

A doctor of psychosomatic medicine, the narrator also once treated a suicidal patient, Yukari, through hypnosis, attempting to replace bad memories with good ones, even though he knew the technique would have only temporary effects. He fell in love with Yukari; he replaced a memory of abuse with a memory of loving him. His quest for revenge on the men who hurt Yukari also involves hypnosis and planted memories, creating a whirl of mixed-up identities in a morbid farce.

Using a combination of techniques, including first-person narration, journal entries, letters, and articles, the novel poses the question, “What is a ‘self’? Under a particular set of circumstances, it becomes impossible to tell.”

The characters are interesting, yet flawed, even evil. Their motivations generate both empathy and horror. Yukari is tragic; her personality is nearly obliterated. Still, she elicits sympathy. Surprises abound, plotted with such care that they ultimately seem inevitable. The prose is deft; it varies according to the character who’s relating the story, or the medium being conveyed.

The psychological thriller My Annihilation poses multiple philosophical questions during its roller coaster of a story–not a whodunnit, but a who-is-it.

Reviewed by Karen Mulvahill

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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