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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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Villain: A Novel - Shuichi Yoshida You may have seen Villain touted as "the next Stieg Larsson." Never mind that Steig Larsson is a person and Villain is a book. Probably the people who said this meant Stieg Larsson's books. So aside from the fact that they are both translated into English and involve murder, I noted the following similarities between the two for however many chapters it took for me to get bored of writing stuff down while trying to read this kind of dull book: - we're repeatedly told what street everything is on, and about characters driving on one street and turning onto another; these kinds of details are meaningless to readers who don't live in Sweden or whatever small city in Japan this book is set in.- Brand names are mentioned constantly (Tiffany earrings, Louis Vitton purse, Audi A6) along with associated prices; this is not nearly as blatant in Villain as we never learn what kind of cell phone everyone uses.- whenever characters sit down for a meal, we're told what they eat and how much it cost; they eat fewer sandwiches and drink less coffee in Villain, but there is a stunning description of how the bill was split three ways after a group outing.That's it. The only other thing in my notes was that in Villain, one? of the characters doesn't smoke, which would never happen in a Stieg Larsson novel. Eh. Maybe if I'd taken more careful notes, this review would continue to be amusing. But like I said, the book is pretty boring, so what do you expect?So anyway, I read this like two months ago but I keep forgetting to review it, probably because it was largely forgettable. It's a really weird book. It's ostensibly a mystery story, but it tells you who the killer was pretty much right away, then it fakes you out for a while, making you think that no, maybe it wasn't him, but really, who else can it be? And what do you know: it is.As referenced above, I kind of did read this because I saw it referred to several times as "THE NEXT STIEG LARSSON?!" (interrobang?!) Now that I have finished it, of course, I can see that reviewing it as such is ludicrous, and offers a total misreading of why The Girl Who... books are popular. I mean, yes, this one was also translated, and it's also about a grisly murder mystery, and there is some social commentary (amorality among the youth in modern Japan) and whatnot, but, and maybe I'm wrong, I don't think anyone reads Stieg Larsson for the way it delves into Swedish politics (unless readers actually like to be slightly bored and confused).No, Stieg Larsson's books are clearly popular because of the title character; it certainly isn't their airtight plotting or, good lord, the writing. So when I pick up a book touted as "the next Stieg," I'm not looking for a sexy mystery, I'm looking for a sexy mystery with interesting characters. Villain... doesn't really have those. There's no real protagonist -- the story follows four or five people that are loosely connected to the murderer and his victim -- and though we find out a lot about each of them, they never feel developed beyond the circumstances of the plot. Which is weird because the half-baked plot seems beside the point; my impression is that the author sees this as a character study first, but aside from forcing me to spend a lot of time reading from the POV of a weak-willed sociopath, he doesn't really do anything interesting in that regard.And from the "don't judge a book by the cover" files: while this is a neat image, there are no guns in this book, nor are there skeletons. So yeah, that doesn't really makes sense at all. Not even thematically, unless you want to get really obtuse about it ("See, it's about the way VIOLENCE is structured into the society, like a foundation or BONES if you will...").