Author: Atsushi Matsuhisa
Illustrator: Wataru Tanaka
Publication Year: 2001
Why I chose this book: I read reviews about it in which people said they cried, and they wrote about how deep it was.
Summary: In Heaven, everyone's true lifespan is 100 years, and they spend the remainder of those years in Heaven before going to their next life. If they live past 100, they go to their next life without ever visiting Heaven. Did I mention Heaven also looks exactly like Earth, with parks, streets, and everything else normally found there. Satoshi is a slacker who drops by a convenience store looking for erotic magazines, when he suddenly finds himself in Heaven, having to manage a bookstore while the regular manager runs off on vacation leaving him in charge, where he meets the green-eyed Yui. He's not dead, like most people there, he's just needs to mind the bookstore, but he grows as a person while there and learns to appreciate those around him.
Plot & Characters: The plot was somewhat predictable but surprisingly heartwarming. The book was filled with watercolor illustrations, which, while beautiful, seemed like padding to make the book larger. Without the illustrations I can't help but think the book would be the size of a large pamphlet. This book does have an element of romance to it, but what I enjoyed about it was all the literary references to children's books! There are parts when passages from "Curious George" and the Narnia series' "The Last Battle", along with references to Japanese children's stories I hadn't heard of. The romance was a typical tsundere romance, which I know is cliche, but I can't help rooting for anyway. I kept thinking that this would make a great slice-of-life anime.
Prose & Readability: The dialogue was well done, but the author needs an editor badly. The descriptive parts were pretty scarce, and most seemed to consist of "And so Satoshi thought" or "And Satoshi said", but the good part about this is that this book is the easiest Japanese book meant for adults I have even seen.
It would definitely made for a good first book, as after the opening scene it's mostly dialogue, and the descriptive words get used over and over again. The main character uses some "tough guy" speech contractions, but if you've read a few shounen manga volumes or glanced through the "Scrapper" expressions here it shouldn't be too hard.
Who I would recommend this to: Those looking for a first book, those looking for a light read that has got heart.
The first paragraph provided for readers to help judge for themselves whether a book is a good fit for their current level, and is presented with all furigana shown in the actual book.