Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
Kai tells us two stories simultaneously. First we have Satsuki, a young teen who feels that she is an outcast at school. She has few friends and want nothing more than to be accepted for who she is. Her mother is pregnant and Satsuki is excited about the baby sister she will have this year. She hopes this will give her one friend she can always count on. All of this is so close yet so far for Satsuki and life has more in store than she can imagine. Second we are introduced to Seul Bi who wonders who she is. More importantly she wonders about her existence in the world, why she is here and what the journey of life is all about. She was adopted at an early age, long before she can remember being adopted. Seul Bi loved her parents and has a fulfilling life, attended University and has a challenging job. She just has questions and doesn’t know where to find the answers. The images in her mind and years of not feeling connected to one family haunt her dreams.
Kai is a different kind of novel, I know you’re thinking that different means it’s not good. Not at all, I mean it is constructed in a unique way and all is not as it seems. Derek Vasconi has taken his time telling this story. He doesn’t throw everything out there and say “hey here you go, let’s just give it all away from the start”. Derek builds the story precisely the way it should be told and lets the reader piece it together for ourselves. Reading Kai reminded me of the film Mulholland Drive. I really good film that needed to be watched in its entirety before you could understand everything that was happening. The story here is the same and connected in many ways that aren’t at first apparent. I have to say I was just as perplexed here as with the movie until I had that ‘Ah-ha’ moment and the pieces fell into place. Kai has a deep and introspective theme, it also does a very good job of drawing on your emotions. The characters are complex and you become attached to them easily. I enjoyed the level of dislike Derek Vasconi made me feel for some characters while feeling such empathy for others. Kai is an enjoyable read with some well-done horror, the scenes are vividly described and really propelled the story along.
Length: 362 Pages
Release date: January 6, 2016
The bastard child of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and Stephen King’s CARRIE, KAI explores how one innocent girl becomes the target of enormous rage living inside another girl-who is seemingly from another world.
Satsuki Takamoto is an invisible otaku teenager in Hiroshima. The only thing she has going for her is the upcoming birth of her sister. No longer will she be alone. But when her mother has a gory miscarriage right in front of her, Satsuki loses her one chance at happiness. She spirals into a deep depression, shutting out everyone and everything by locking herself inside her bedroom-for good. Her sadness, however, pales in comparison to her uncontrollable anger. It spreads like a nuclear fire, ambivalent to what or who it destroys, and won’t stop until Satsuki accepts her sister’s death.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in Evanston, Illinois, Seul Bi Rissiello can’t sleep because every time she closes her eyes, she relives her adoptive parents’ gruesome deaths. Why is she thinking so much about them now, ten years afterward? As she struggles with working at a clinic for the mentally disturbed, Seul Bi starts to unravel under the weight of living a lonely life and being twice an orphan. Her life devolves into a series of ominous and dangerous hallucinations that threaten not only her sanity, but her very existence as well.
As both girls struggle to understand what is happening to them, their enigmatic connection comes into focus, raising the question: What if all the suffering in your life was carefully choreographed by somebody you’ve never met?
Derek Vasconi, biography
Derek Vasconi was raised in Sharon, Pennsylvania, a small town near Pittsburgh, PA. He didn’t stay there for very long, as after graduating from high school, he co-founded the metal band, From A Second Story Window, and went on tour for most of his early 20’s. In 2006, Derek made the decision to move on from the band and pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development, which he achieved, at Penn State University. After doing this, he went to Japan to live on and off for the next five years, and life has never been the same for him since.
Derek has accomplished a myriad of things in his life, including founding a traditional, independent book publishing company, creating an iphone app (eMobo, which brought the Japanese cell phone novels, or “keitai shousetsu,” to the Western world), and now, has pursued writing himself. His first book, KAI, showcases Derek’s passion for both Japan and horror, as he blends them seamlessly in an unforgettable and jaw-dropping debut book about one girl from Hiroshima who wants to destroy the world.