Author: Yukito Ayatsuji
Translator: Karen McGillicuddy
In the wake of his hospitalization for a collapsed lung, Koichi Sakakibara moves in with his aging grandparents and his aunt Reiko while his father is out of country for work. He also transfers into the local middle school, Yomiyama North–the same school his dead mother and his aunt had attended when they were kids. While there is nothing clearly spelled out, he soon gets the sense that something is very wrong at his school, or at least in Class 3. Everyone seems uneasy, afraid even. Not to mention there’s a girl in their class who may or may not exist–Koichi has talked to her numerous times, but everyone else doesn’t seem to even see her or know her name. And just when things couldn’t get eerier, people related to his class start dying. Finally, he gets something of an explanation . . . his class is cursed with an extra member who is actually dead.
I first encounter Another as an anime, and in that context it was super scary and gross but extremely good at the same time. The light novel on which the anime is based gives almost exactly the same impression, although it is more suspenseful and less disgusting in my opinion. Ayatsuji-san is first and foremost a mystery writer, and that comes through strongly even when he writes horror. The gradual unfolding of details is brilliantly done, never quite giving the reader enough to get a jump on the plot. If I hadn’t known from watching the anime first, I absolutely never would have guessed the surprise ending–it’s actually kind of an evil set up for the reader, but I love it. This is definitely a plot-centric story, but the characters are also important–they’re well written and engaging, but just distant enough to make the plot work. For instance, you’re always thinking “what if he/she’s the one?” On a side note, I think McGillicuddy’s translation work is excellent–it flows nicely and maintains the perfect atmosphere throughout. It’s interesting to compare her work on the Book Girl light novels in contrast to this; I think it gives a better idea of what the actual authors’ writing flavors are, you know? In any case, if you don’t like mystery/horror stories, avoid Another at all costs, but if that sort of story appeals to you, this is a highly recommended option, for sure.