A high school student in modern-day Japan must defeat vengeful mountain demons using powers he never knew he had in this uproariously offbeat debut novel.
Koda Okita is not a typical 15-year-old Japanese high school student. The son of aging shiitake farmers, he dreams of being a pilot despite suffering from narcolepsy, a condition that requires him to wear a watermelon-sized helmet while riding his bike. Koda lives in the small island town of Kusaka, situated in the middle of nowhere between two mountain ranges. The isolated setting heightens the tension that builds as students and faculty of Kusaka High School begin to die in a series of apparent suicides under inexplicable circumstances. Their deaths coincide with the appearance of Moya, a mysterious new girl who is convinced that Koda holds the key to unraveling the tragic events unfolding in Kusaka. As Koda gradually realizes that his narcoleptic episodes are actually supernatural experiences that allow him to "steal" the traumatic memories of others, he takes this knowledge in stride, along with the existence of tengu, the supernatural creatures who are the culprits behind the town's misfortunes. Romney's tale of modern-day Japan crossed with Japanese folklore is suffused with abundant humor, as his wisecracking teens navigate situations fraught with dark and dramatic irony.
A confident debut that is at once ominous and laugh-out-loud funny. (Fiction. 14-18)