Book Review: “The Perfect World Of Miwako Sumida”

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I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Perfect World Of Miwako Sumida” by Clarissa Goenawan. I’ve read one of Goenawan’s previous books, “Rainbirds,” and enjoyed it, so I was curious about this book by her and picked it up to read. Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

“University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from?

Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda who harbored unrequited feelings for Miwako, begs her best friend Chie to bring him to the remote village where she spent her final days. While they are away, his older sister, Fumi, who took Miwako on as an apprentice in her art studio, receives an unexpected guest at her apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life.”

Content Warning:

This book contains discussions of suicide, sexual assault, and step-incest. If you are uncomfortable reading this sort of content, please avoid reading this book.

Plot Development: 1.5 out of 5 stars

The pacing of this plot was incredibly slow. I’m not sure if it was because of how the story kept going back and forth between memories of specific characters about Miwako and the current timeline. However, I felt that the pacing could be much tighter.

This book could be cut in half to get rid of so many unnecessary scenes and plotlines that went nowhere. The step-incest plotline between Eiji and Miwako could have been cut out, considering that it was thrown in only a few chapters before the end for shock value more than anything else.

Additionally, the supernatural elements of Miwako reappearing close to the end of the book felt like they came out of nowhere. There was no explanation or foreshadowing whatsoever given to these parts. Considering that this book was initially presented like typical literary fiction, I was surprised and confused to see these elements appear. The book would have made more sense to leave those parts out.

Character Development: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Though the book gave a lot of backstory about Chie, Ryusei, and Miwako, I found it hard to relate to any of the three characters. For example, I found myself sympathizing with Chie over her wanting to fit in and so she altered her stories to become more popular. However, I also disliked how she never told Miwako the truth about herself at all. These actions heavily contrasting to her inner thoughts made it hard for me to understand her.

None of the side characters were engaging, as they only lasted a few scenes each at most. They also did not contribute much to the plot, either.

Overall, I’m rating this book out 1.5 of 5 stars!

This sounded like an interesting book in its concept. However, it fell apart in its execution with the lack of character development and lack of reliability, and the incredibly slow pacing of the plotline. The step-incest and supernatural elements close to the end of the book also felt thrown in for no reason.

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