(Boku wa Tengoku ni Ikenai)
by ヰ坂 暁 (Akira Isaka)
Author: ヰ坂 暁 (Akira Isaka)
Genre: novel, character novel, mystery, questioning life
Great for: Advanced (JLPT N2~N1+)
Length: 343 pages
Amazon Japan (Kindle): 僕は天国に行けない
Bookwalker Japan: 僕は天国に行けない
Why You Should Read 僕は天国に行けない (Boku wa Tengoku ni Ikenai)
Me after the two-page prologue: Oooh. This is going to be interesting.
Me half way through chapter one: Whaaaat!? I was not expecting that.
Me at the end of chapter one: WHAAAT!?!?
Even before I started reading this book the cover and obi had me intrigued. A grey image of a girl standing on the edge of a bridge with the text; 死んだら終わりなのになぜ生きてるんですか？ (“When we die, that’s it. So why do we live?”) I couldn’t not pick it up!
I’m glad I did too! Maybe it’s just the Japanese novels I’ve been reading lately, but nothing has gripped me as much as this novel did.
It’s a murder(?) suicide(?) mystery where the protagonist is trying to work out why his terminally ill friend died, while also discussing life after death. I’m not going to say any more than that as the twists and turns in the story are the best parts. (This is why I didn’t add the blurb – it’s full of spoilers!)
Content warning for themes of death, suicide, and dismemberment. If you don’t like gruesome or exterstential narratives, then you will not like this.
Why Japanese Learners Should Read 僕は天国に行けない (Boku wa Tengoku ni Ikenai)
The language used in this novel is defiantly N2/N1 level. The writing is literary in style, which means more flowery (irregular) kanji, but the story is so gripping I hardly noticed.
Actually, that’s a lie. I did notice words and kanji I couldn’t understand but I had to know what was happening in the story so badly that I made sure to stop and look these words up. Then I read back over the sentence or paragraph to made sure I understood exactly what was going on. The story was so gripping I was actually enjoying looking up words so I could understand everything!
Vocabulary wise, the most uncommon terms that I’d not come across were descriptions of different ways to murder people, and terms related to funerals. If you read a lot of murder mysteries, I’m sure you’ll have no issue with this!
One thing I struggled with (which I struggle with for most novels) is characters’ names. I really should have made a note of the names when they first appeared. This made it a little jarring when characters were mentioned and I knew who they were but not their names. This is a novel where the readings are only mentioned once or twice.
If you are the type of person who likes the philosophical question of what comes after death, as well as a good Japanese murder mystery, then this is the book for you.
It’s a fun book to read that had me hooked right from start. So much so that I enjoyed learning new words and kanji too. A little frustrating at my own (lack of) Japanese ability at times but overall great experience.
You can check out the first few pages this book here!
Similar Japanese Novels
また、同じ夢を見ていた (Mata Onaji Yume wo Miteita)
世界から猫が消えたなら (If Cats Disappeared from the World)