Skip to main content

Book Review: Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa

Ben Constable has written a book about, well, Ben Constable. In Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa we are treated to a dark and psychologically gripping story of our protagonist, Ben Constable, and his friend Tomomi (who goes by the nickname Butterfly). The novel opens with Ben and Butterfly exchanging letters about a book that Ben plans to write. The rest of the novel details the experiences of Ben after he is notified of Tomomi’s death. The dialogue is clever and draws the reader in to the heart of the suspense and action. The revelation that Tomomi has committed suicide sends Ben off on a wild goose chase of a scavenger hunt that was set in place by Tomomi herself. Soon it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems and that Ben never really knew Tomomi or what she was capable of.  As Ben questions his relationship with Tomomi and asks himself what kind of darkness may have been hidden in her heart, he begins to realize, as does the reader, that he may be in grave danger. Will he unravel the mysteries Tomomi has left behind for him? Is each clue leading him toward his own death? And can we ever really know our friends? These are the questions we ask ourselves as we move toward the end of Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa.

By the time we reach the conclusion, we start to ask different questions. Is Tomomi a real person known to the author and is the exchange in the beginning of the novel perhaps genuine? Is the rest of the novel his fulfillment of a promise to write a fictional novel about their relationship? Or are the letters in the opening chapter the voice of not Ben the author but Ben the protagonist and the rest of the novel his ‘fictional’ story (story within a story for the win). It’s also hinted at that perhaps the letter exchange belongs to the protagonist but that the story that follows is Tomomi’s (the character) fictional account as she too suggests at the beginning that she might write a novel. And of course the other possibilities include that the letters and the rest of the novel are “real” within the universe constructed by the author (i.e. a “true” tale of what transpired between those that wrote the letters that open the novel), and either recounted by the protagonist or Tomomi. If Tomomi is indeed the writer of the ensuing “true” story instead of Ben, it is implied that she may have tweaked the story to blend truth with fiction (just as her character does within the story). Confused yet?

Turning over these questions would be a great intellectual exercise for any book group – especially over a bottle of French wine to fit one of the more delicious plot points of the novel.  

Getting to the end of this novel is a bit of a mind game like getting to the end of The Matrix.  Likewise I think Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa would make an excellent screenplay and Hollywood drama that would leave the audience asking thoughtful questions as they left the theatre.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Board Game Review: Brass Birmingham

Here’s a story of a lovely lady (spoiler: it’s me) and her pride and how it has led to the discovery of the single greatest board game I have ever played. It’s probably also a good primer for other reviewers on increasing your reach.At GenCon this year, I was perusing the wares of the various booths and my eyes caught a glimpse of two beautiful game boxes. Each had crisp metallic lettering with an old world feel and artwork that radiated European class. I made my way to the booth and waited patiently to speak to to the team manning it as there were many buyers lined up to purchase the games. I didn’t know anything about the games (Brass Birmingham and Brass Lancashire), or the publisher – Roxley Game Laboratory – but I knew I wanted to review one or both of the games. Almost every board game love story I star in in can be summed up this way: I am seduced by the artwork or theme and then I stay for the right mechanics. When the lead rep spoke with me, he gently rejected my request. He …

Spirit Island Jagged Earth Preview: A First Look at the New Kickstarter Expansion from Greater Than Games

Exciting news this week! The Spirit Island Jagged Earth expansion launches on Kickstarter October 16th, 2018. I had the chance to preview and play this upcoming release from Greater Than Games multiple times this week, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Update: the Kickstarter is live here.


Our Spirit Island collection keeps growing. First there was the base game, which debuted in 2017 and turned the traditional narrative of the conquering colonists on its head, allowing players to take on the role of island spirits determined to keep the colonists at bay through any means necessary to preserve the serenity of the island. My husband and I picked up the game at retail (having missed the Kickstarter window) and fell in love with it immediately, enthused to work together as powerful spirits and put the invaders down. Next, we added the Branch and Claw expansion. This expansion (also part of the original Kickstarter) expanded the board, added new spirits and powers, new blight card…

Board Game Review: Brass Lancashire

A few months ago, I fell in love with Brass Birmingham (you can read that review HERE). I fell hard. It was an all time top 10 best games ever kind of love and so when Roxley Game Laboratory offered to send me Brass Lancashire to play and share my thoughts, I was a bit hesitant.  Is there even a chance I could enjoy it as much as Birmingham? Lancashire was the original game designed by Martin Wallace, and while it’s been updated for the most recent release, I was concerned it might prove to be an older, tired version that couldn’t compete with Birmingham.

My concerns were unfounded. Brass Lancashire is fantastic. Playing Lancashire after playing Birmingham is a bit like dating someone and then dating their sibling. Sure, there’s a resemblance, but the kissing feels different.
The artwork for Brass Lancashire is beautiful, radiating a classic style evocative of the theme (industrial era production). The artists have shown great attention to detail such as the raised gold lettering on …