GITS SAC: Solid State Society

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.—Solid State Society is the third movie since 1995’s Ghost in the Shell anime adaptation. This feature-length TV movie was broadcast on Skyperfect! in September 2006 and released on DVD by Bandai Visual in November of the same year. Fantasia 2007 treated the fans by screening this excellent cyberpunk anime on the big screen! Directed by Production I.G.’s Kenji Kamiyama, fans can enjoy yet another high-tech sci-fi story, which is set in 2034, Tokyo. The timeline is two years after the last TV series (2nd GIG), as Japan is still dealing with the Asian refugee problems. 

SolidStateSociety-image2Major Motoko Kusanagi left Section 9 — Japan’s elite anti-terrorist unit — and was missing for over two years. She left because she felt that by acting alone she could investigate more discreetly (using multiple cyber bodies), more freely (without the irritating political oversight) and therefore more efficiently. For Batou, the absence of Motoko leaves his work meaningless and he picks & chooses the case he’s working on, taking assignments only when he thinks it might bring him closer to her. With the Major’s departure and Batou refusing assignments, Togusa was forced to become the leader of the team as her successor. Togusa is, as usual, a man of justice. Married and having two children, he’s different from the other team members who are all single — including the aging Chief Aramaki who has been struggling to deal with the fact that Section 9 has to move on without the Major. Other members such as Saito and Ishikawa keep their positions as network expert or sniper. All Section 9’s characters are extremely honest and act with a sense of justice and responsibility. They’re all faithful to their convictions as they were in the TV series. 

SolidStateSociety-image1Section 9 hired 20 rookies, and their latest mission is to solve a case involving politically charged hostages. Somehow, one of the terrorist suspects committed suicide on the spot, leaving a strange message: “The Puppeteer is coming”. At the same time, many other mysterious cases keep taking place, including one where a huge amount of abused children seem to have been kidnapped by an organization of ultranationalist retirees. What links all those cases together? It seems to be the work of a super-intelligent hacker who has been manipulating all this, but to do what exactly, no one knows… 

SolidStateSociety-image4This movie is first class entertainment. Like the previous movies, it offers great music and superb animation. It has all the complex socio-political background of the previous TV series and maintains the series’ trademark cyberpunk feeling, but Director Kamiyama injected the storyline with so many themes — such as mass suicide, terrorism, biochemical weapons, kidnapping, old folks’ problems and child abuse — and subplots that the story gets confusing. It’s not easy to follow what’s happening in this extremely intricate movie. After the screening I was not quite sure of what I had just watched and who the Puppeteer really was! It’s one of those cases where you really need to purchase the DVD and watch the key scenes several time in order to be able to really enjoy the complexity of the movie. 

SolidStateSociety-image3In my humble opinion, I think that Director Kamiyama should have simplified and streamlined the storyline, maybe sticking with Togusa’s plot-line. I bet the viewers could have felt more empathy towards the movie if it was a little less complex. The animation itself has an overwhelming beauty, but, using all the great animation technology and talent of Production I.G., I think Director Kamiyama could have created a masterpiece, if he had just come up with a more coherent story. In the end, the true identity of the Puppeteer is still not very clear — but maybe Director Kamiyama kept it mysterious on purpose? 

—miyako

Kôkaku Kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex — Solid State Society. Japan, 2006, 109 min.; Dir.: Kenji Kamiyama; Scr.: Kenji Kamiyama, Shôtaro Suga, Yoshiki Sakurai; Phot.: Kôji Tanaka; Ed.: Junichi Uematsu; Art Dir.: Yusuke Takeda; Char. Des.: Hajime Shimomura, Takayuki Goto, Tetsuya Nishio; Mechan. Des.: Kenji Teraoka, Shinobu Tsuneki; Mus.: Yoko Kanno; Prod.: Production I.G.; Distr.: Bandai, Manga Entertainment; Cast: Atsuko Tanaka (Motoko Kusanagi), Akio Ohtsuka (Batou), Kouichi Yamadera (Togusa), Kazuya Tatekabe (Col. Tonoda), Masuo Amada (Col. Ka Gae-Ru), Osamu Saka (Daisuke Aramaki), Takashi Onozuka (Pazu), Tarô Yamaguchi (Boma), Toru Ohkawa (Saito), Yutaka Nakano (Ishikawa), Yuya Uchida (Takaaki Koshiki), Dai Sugiyama (Proto), Nana Yamauchi (Togusa’s daughter), Yoshiko Sakakibara (Prime Minister Kayabuki). Available on R2 Dvd in Japan (BCBA-2606, 109 min., ¥9800) and on R1 Dvd in North America (Bandai/Manga Entertainment, #25176, Bilingual Dvd, 109 min., $19.98 US [Limited edition: $39.98 US], rated 13+). stars-4-0

• • •

SolidStateSociety-covIn 2034, two years after the departure of Major Motoko Kusanagi (after the events of the TV series, Stand Alone Complex, which starts in 2030 and before the second movie, Innocence, set in 2032), Togusa is now in charge of Section 9, which has been expanded with the addition of several new recruits. Batou, frustrated to have been left behind by the Major, is still looking for her and therefore picks & chooses only the cases that seem related to his quest. A string of strange incidents — starting with a series of suicides, followed by the kidnapping of many children, and an economical conspiracy plotted by a group of old ultra-nationalists — seem to lead to a mysterious super-hacker nicknamed the “puppeteer.” The Major is carrying her own parallel investigation — which leads Batou to suspect her of being the puppeteer. In the end, the real identity of the perpetrator is the most surprising revelation of all. 

This movie is directed by Kenji Kamiyama, the same person who directed the Stand Alone Complex TV series. It is therefore not surprising to find here the same excellent quality of production, as much in the design as in the animation. However, if the director succeeded to masterfully tie up all the elements of the story in the TV series, he seems to have difficulty to do the same in a movie format. Solid State Society feels like a long TV episode where he tries to compress the storyline of an entire series. There are too many sub-plots and the different elements of the story are mixed together in such a complex way that it sometimes lacks coherence and the viewers get confused (it took me at least two viewings to understand the complexity of the plot and even then I am not sure I understood everything correctly). 

The timeline of the various series and movies seems confusing as well. The first movie is supposed to be set in 2029, while Solid State Society is set in 2034. It is not clear exactly when Major Kusanagi left Section 9. Also, they should have encountered the Puppet Master / Puppeteer before (in the first movie), but no mention is made of a prior encounter as if the first movie never happened. In fact, it feels like Solid State Society is a retelling of the encounter between the Major and the Puppeteer. 

Despite the complex socio-political themes and the beautiful animation, Solid State Society does not have the same depth than the previous movies (directed by Mamoru Oshii) and it certainly doesn’t have the same contemplative beauty. It is a very nice movie, but it is much more demanding to the viewers than the TV series and even the previous movies — which you all need to have seen to really appreciate and understand this movie — so I would recommend it mainly to the die-hard Ghost In The Shell fans. Nevertheless, Solid State Society (and GITS in general) is the epitome of intelligent SolidStateSociety-Dvd-ratingscyberpunk anime (a genre that, unfortunately, we don’t see often). Finally, I must add that the Limited Steelbook case edition (which contains three discs: one disc with the main feature, one disc full of extras, and the Solid State Society soundtrack CD) is totally awesome. 

—clodjee

Bandai / Manga Entertainment, #25176 (ISBN 978-1-59409-831-4), Bilingual Dvd, 109 min., $19.98 US (Limited Edition: $39.98 US), rated 13+ (Violence). See back cover.

You can also check the trailer from Youtube:

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonANNBiblio • GoogleIMDbProduction I.G.Wikipedia ]

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex—Solid State Society ©2006-2007 Shirow Masamune • Production I.G. / Kodansha. 

Those articles were first published respectively in PA #94: 76 (November-December 2007) and PA #93: 83 (September-October 2007).

Please also check the following Ghost in the shell articles:

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GITS: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

Anime Story

2004 was a great year for theatrical anime releases in Japan. It brought us Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Steamboy and, of course, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence. However, most of the Japanese anime industry’s production, and what really sustains it, remains the television series, like Gundam Seed, Fullmetal Alchemist, and yes, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. 

SAC-2gig-logoGhost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was a big hit in 2003 and Japanese DVD sales did great, so the creative team at Production I.G. decided to bring out a second season (titled “2nd Gig”). Now fans can look forward to another 26 episodes of cyber-political intrigue and action. 

Sac-2gig-illo11I can easily imagine that director Kenji Kamiyama was under a great deal of stress, with his work being compared with Mamoru Oshii’s Innocence, and to meet the fans’ expectations after the first season! Despite the high stakes, the young director was up to the task and I think he did a marvellous job. The “2nd Gig” is even better and more intriguing than the first season. He succeeded totally in creating his own world, telling the story in his own personal style, and we don’t even feel the need to compare his series with Oshii’s movie. Each has its own merit. 

Kamiyama not only respected Masamune Shirow’s original manga, but he gave it life by detailing, even more so than Oshii’s movies did, its near-futuristic setting defined by the interaction of humanity and technology in a complex Asian geo-political environment. His strong, captivating storytelling is very well supported by the superb animation, the beautiful and elaborate artwork and an enchanting soundtrack. It is so great to see that there is such a great new talent in Japan, able to create a serious and intelligent story that can both entertain our senses and stimulate our mind. It is not surprising that both seasons of the TV series have received a great deal of acclaim, not only from anime fans, but also from those who seek serious science fiction shows. 

SAC16-illoASAs the “2nd Gig” starts, Section 9, which had been dissolved at the end of the 1st season, is resuming its job as an anti-cyberterrorist mobile unit. Although the team has returned, their work isn’t easy, and many difficulties lie ahead of them. The Japanese political landscape is changing and the government is keeping a close eye on their special police. The “Laughing Man” case might be solved, but it doesn’t take long for another terrorist organization, “The Individual Eleven,” to show up. Who are they? Are they the result of another “Stand Alone Complex”? They seem to be stirring up an uprising against the Asian immigrants and refugees. Could it be that simple? But some other politically-motivated forces seem to be at work. Can Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team unravel the complex overlapping political plots before they affect the nature of the government? 

Technology might be omnipresent in Stand Alone Complex, but it is not overwhelming. In the “2nd Gig,” Director Kamiyama and Production I.G. keep an even greater focus on the human side of the story by exploring the characters’ hearts and emotions — even in the case of some of the terrorists. Each key member of Section 9 has a dedicated episode where we learn more about their past and personality. It is not done simply to paint a richer background; every single bit of information has its meaning. They also give a more humane face to the government (more likeable than the usual fat, corrupt, old minister) with the new Japanese prime minister, a young, good-looking lady who embodies the beauties (and sometime ineptitudes) of democracy. In contrast, there is the ugly face of Gohda, a shady character who embodies the threat of militarism. Also, the intelligent Tachikoma robots (their name means “standing, spinning top”) are back with a new, expanded sidekick role (definitely inspired by Motoko’s cute “helper” programs in the Man-Machine Interface manga). With their cute voices and comical comments, they give a human feel to the technology. 

SAC14-illoASThe terrorism and the Asian refugees’ problems seem to be an allusion to the Palestinian question and to some conspiracy theories that surfaced after 9/11 in Europe and in Japan (such as, American right wing groups being behind 9/11 in order to justify military action abroad and domestically limit civil liberties). But it is only used to emphasize the fact that, even in the future, terrorism — the favorite style of warfare of the 21st Century — is still omnipresent and we still haven’t found a way to deal with it. Despite all the advanced technology, humanity is still facing tremendous problems (war, pollution, corruption, poverty, overpopulation, crime). Nothing changes, and even the future’s future is still uncertain. Is there a solution to the crisis? Is there a possibility for us humans to be saved? The answer in “2nd Gig” might be in the origami cranes that appear in some episodes and that symbolize the prayers for peace and salvation. All we can do is, like Section 9, act with courage and determination (even if it means going against the rules sometimes), pray and hope for the best! 

In conclusion, “2nd GIG” is even better than the first season. While still very political, dealing with terrorism and immigration problems, it also elaborates on more of the personal history of each of the main characters, including Major Kusanagi. The cyberpunk political intrigue is at moments a little complex, but it is the most intelligent anime series I have ever seen and it is superbly animated. It’s not all action, there’s also drama — and I did cry a few times. A real masterpiece! Of course, such an exceptionally excellent anime series cannot be seen only on TV. SAC-2gig-ratingsYou have to purchase the DVD to watch it over and over again, to enjoy all the minute details of this superb animation and share the experience with your friends! And if after that you want more, the series was followed by a movie: Solid State Society. 

> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

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Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex (anime)

Overview

GITS-SAC-logoWith the TV version of Ghost in the Shell (Kokaku Kidotai) director Kenji Kamiyama (and his production team — including the full support of original creator Shirow Masamune) is bringing a new dimension to the standard police detective drama adding a techno-cyberpunk flavour. Not only is this a very high quality show visually (HD full-digital screen to satisfy even the most hard-core fan!), but it is also full of exciting, intelligent storytelling. You can see that the writers really put forward their best efforts to attract viewers. 

SAC-KusunagiCCThe story is set in a future Tokyo populated with high-tech doohickeys, and lots of cyborgs and androids. Fans of Ghost in the Shell find out immediately that this story is quite different from the manga or games. It’s a kind of alternate world created for the TV series, closer to what was already developed for the movie. The manga is funny and set in a fictitious future (lots of made-up names) where Section 9 is an international anti-terrorist unit. The TV series’ setting feels less like a militaristic anti-terrorist outfit and more like a special police force dealing with cyber crimes. It is more serious and more realistic. Nevertheless, like the movie, which was based mostly on the manga, the TV series is using bits and pieces of the manga’s story. We could consider the TV series as a prequel to the movie, whereas the new manga, Man-Machine Interface, is the direct sequel of the original manga. 

GHSill02RSo what do they mean by “Stand Alone Complex”? It could mean that the series is mostly made of stand alone episodes (self contained stories), with a few more complex episodes (the “Laughing Man” story arc). However, episode 6 also provides another explanation: it refers to the fact that Laughing Man’s imitators are independent copycats, created without an original. To me it seems that Production I.G.’s writers want to make the point that “It’s extremely difficult and almost impossible today to stand alone in this complex society of computers and networks.” Each episode throws enormous amounts of technical information and detail about computers, science and politics for the viewer to digest. At first, for an average nincompoop like myself, the contents of this show can be too much, but with a bit of patience it’s certainly educational. I think, in a way, it’s charming to see so much information on technology. Compared to ordinary anime shows, the amount of dialogue and information is quite huge. 

You really have to sit down and watch this TV show over and over again to catch the small details and to understand better. In this respect it shares much in common with its source, the manga. On the other hand, despite all this, the show can also be watched as an intelligent police/detective drama. The viewers can try to solve crimes with Section 9 members and get great satisfaction to see the conclusion of each cyber-crimes case. But don’t think that the show is as slow paced as the film — there is still a lot of action! 

SAC-illo02The characters seem to be like normal humans, but in fact most of them are cyborgs (or with some sort of cybernetic enhancement). I wonder if, in the near future, when humans begin to replace body-parts to improve their lives and live more comfortably, we’ll have different kinds of crimes? It’s the same type of premise as in Patlabor : if technology takes us there, the nature of crime will change. Of course we’re all human, but how in the world can we live and “stand” with our own personalities in this extremely complex society of the future? In this show, all criminals are making statements of a kind (politically, individually or otherwise). 

SAC01-03This is certainly a strong series evolved from speculative fiction, with excellent (and exotic Russian sounding) music by Yoko Kannno (Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne and Macross Plus) and viewers will enjoy this full-action crime fighting anime! In our opinion, this series clearly shows one thing: good writing and storytelling make a great difference! There are many shows with high quality visuals, but with weak stories. Ghost in the Shell is one of the best shows to come down the road in the last few years and hearkens back to a period where stories and strong characters were the main focus. I’d like to send out enthusiastic applause to the creators of this show! 

Despite its high quality animation and intelligent story, the show has a few annoying details: the original opening is much better than the 3D one which starts with episode 3 and there are some technical impossibilities (like the cloaking devices which are not consistent with those in the movie). 

SAC08-02This anime won’t disappoint you — in fact, you’ll be totally hooked! A must see show that I’d recommend to anyone. In order to understand the TV series a bit better it is recommended to have seen the movie or read the manga (you would already know the characters and technological background), but you will probably manage anyway if you just dive straight in (you’ll find some helpful information, right after the jump). The series was very well received with critics’ rating of 8.5 on IMDb and of 67% / 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Enjoy !

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

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L’Histoire en Manga (1)

T. 1, Les débuts de l’humanité

Histoire_en_manga-1-cov“L’éditeur scolaire japonais GAKKEN propose une collection de 12 tomes racontant l’histoire du monde. Dessins typiques du manga, couleurs saturées, scénario avec personnages servent à illustrer les grands épisodes de l’histoire.

Dans ce premier tome on découvre les débuts de l’humanité; le big bang, puis la Préhistoire et l’Antiquité égyptienne. Des pages chronologiques encadrent l’ouvrage. Un cahier de 32 pages documentaires richement illustrées vient étoffer les informations distillées dans les épisodes, ainsi que de nombreux compléments regroupés en fin de chapitre.”

[Texte du site de l’éditeur; voir aussi la couverture arrière]

J’ai déjà mentionné dans un billet (”Educational Manga“) que les mangas, en plus d’être très divertissants, pouvaient avoir une grande valeur éducative. Au-delà des adaptations de grands classiques littéraires et des nombreux mangas historiques, il existe au Japon plusieurs séries de manga qui ont pour but d’introduire auprès d’un public jeune l’histoire du Japon ou du monde d’une manière pédagogique, voir même encyclopédique. Il s’agit des Gakushū manga ou manga d’apprentissage. 

Je n’aurait jamais cru pouvoir lire ce genre de manga en traduction. Et pourtant, en novembre dernier, en périphérie du Salon du Livre de Montréal, j’ai découvert chez Bayard Jeunesse une collection qui nous raconte L’Histoire en manga (mes deux sujets favoris!). La collection comporte (pour l’instant) huit volumes: v.1 Les débuts de l’humanité, v.2 L’antiquité grecque et romaine, v.3 L’Inde et la Chine antiques, v.4 D’Attila à Guillaume le Conquérant, v.5 De l’empire mongol à la Guerre de Cent ans, v.6 La Renaissance et les grandes découvertes, v.7 L’Histoire en Europe de la Reine Elisabeth à Napoléon (incluant la révolution industrielle), v.8 De la conquête de l’Amérique à la Commune de Paris. L’édition originale japonaise comporte douze volumes (il en resterait donc quatre à paraître).

Le premier volume, originalement intitulé Gakken Manga — Nouvelle Histoire du Monde, Volume 1: Les Temps préhistoriques et l’Orient ancien [ 学研まんが NEW世界の歴史  第1卷 先史時代と古代オリエント / Gakken Manga nyū Sekai no Rekishi 1Kan: Senshi Jidai to Kodai Oriento], nous introduit à l’histoire des débuts de l’Humanité, de la préhistoire au moyen-orient ancient. Le récit utilise comme prétexte trois collégiens turbulents qui se font coller en punition un exposé sur les débuts de l’humanité qu’ils réalisent grâce à l’aide de leur professeur de physique.

Évidemment, dans ce genre de manga documentaire, la qualité graphique n’est pas vraiment une priorité alors le dessin est plutôt moyen — mais il est en couleurs. Aussi, compte tenu de l’ampleur du sujet, on nous raconte tout cela en accéléré (moins de deux cents pages pour couvrir quelques millions d’années d’histoire!). Et bien sûr on retrouve plusieurs fautes d’orthographes et quelques erreurs factuelles (ou de frappe? Possiblement due à la traduction ou au lettreur?). Par exemple, on place la révolution agricole à “59 000 ans avant notre ère” alors que l’on voulait probablement dire 9500 ans… Mais dans l’ensemble c’est assez juste et c’est complété par un dossier qui reprend l’information couverte par le manga sous forme de texte.

Même si ce genre de manga s’adresse surtout à un public jeune (onze ans et plus), cela reste intéressant pour tout âge. Au Japon, ces mangas sont souvent utilisé comme des manuels scolaires alors pourquoi n’en ferions-nous pas autant ici? Cela reste une bonne lecture relativement divertissante et assez éducative. C’est sans aucun doute l’ouvrage idéal pour intéresser un jeune lecteur à l’histoire du monde.

L’Histoire en Manga: T. 1, Les débuts de l’humanité, par Hirofumi Katô (dessin) et Hidehisa Nanbô (texte) (Traduction par Aurélien Estager). Montrouge: Bayard Jeunesse, septembre 2017. 192 pages, 16 x 23.5 cm, 12,90 € / $C 24.95. ISBN 978-2-7470-8390-4. Pour lectorat adolescent (11+ ans). stars-3-0

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWorldCat ]

© Gakken Plus 2016. © Bayard Édition, 2017 pour la traduction française.

Vous pouvez aussi voir sur Youtube la bande annonce de la série (en japonais):

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Capsules

Vendredi nature [002.020.073]

Cardinalis cardinalis

[ iPhone 11 Pro, Parc Frédéric-Back, 2020/03/06 ]

La semaine dernière j’ai observé cet oiseau dans le parc. Ce serait un Cardinal rouge [Northern Cardinal en anglais] — malgré le contre-jour il me semble rouge (c’est donc un mâle), il a la huppe caractéristique et son chant est fort comparable aux exemples que j’ai trouvé dans les documents de référence. Le cardinal est un grand pinson à crête de l’ordre des Passeriformesde la famille des Cardinalidae et de du genre Cardinalis. Vivement le printemps !

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Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

y648While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Not one but two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son and contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother — her ex-boyfriend — Tim.

With Tish’s co-workers in the dark about her connection to Jeff outside the workplace, she volunteers to attend the funeral on the company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life. Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, our personal choices and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

[Text from the publisher’s website; see also the back cover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

My wife is a member of the Montreal’s Sherlock Holmes fan club, called The Bimetallic Question. Every year in January they are holding a formal dinner to celebrate his birthday. They always have a special guest speaker to talk about his/her work and share thoughts about a Sherlockian topic. It is usually a local writer or a Gazette columnist. Last year it was Montreal mystery writer Christopher Huang (I read and commented his book A Gentleman’s murder on this blog). This year on January 18th, being available, I decided to come with my wife to this “Master’s Birthday” dinner to meet this colourful crowd I was hearing so much about but mostly to listen to the guest speaker, writer Catherine McKenzie [ BiblioFBGoodreadsGoogleWeb ]. 

Born and raised in Montreal, she studied law at McGill University and now practices litigation in a boutique law firm. She has published nearly a dozen books: Spin (2009), Arranged (May 2012), Forgotten (October 2012), Hidden (2013), Spun (2014), Smoke (2015), Fractured (2016), The murder game (written in 2007 but only published in 2016 under the pen name Julie Apple — and used as plot device in Fractured), The good liar (2018), and — her latest  I’ll never tell (2019). Her next book (coming in June 2020) will be You Can’t Catch Me. She has also co-written First Street, a serialized audiobook, and published short stories in a couple of anthologies (J.T. Ellison’s A Thousand doors; J. McFetridge & J. Filippi’s Montreal Noir).

A brief sample of McKenzie presentation

I chose to read Hidden by chance, selecting it among the titles available at the library (as I couldn’t get her latest title on time to start reading it before her guest appearance at the dinner). Because McKenzie was invited to speak at the club dinner, I assumed that she was a mystery or crime writer, but Hidden is neither. McKenzie started her career writing Women’s fiction (sometimes called Chick-lit). With Hidden (and later with Fractured and The good liar) she moved into Psychological fiction with a slight touch of a thriller. Although her characters often move in the legal world (law firms and courts), she starts putting elements of crime fiction into her writing only with I’ll never tell and You can’t catch me.

Hidden is very well written. It offers a compelling story about grief and adultery that knows how to keep the interest of the reader. Her characters sound quite true, so when the storytelling builds up with tension you really feel for them. She even manage a little twist at the end. I enjoyed reading this novel but couldn’t avoid being annoyed by the narration at the first person, done by three different characters — including the guy who died at the beginning of the novel! That’s rather unusual. I would have preferred that she put the name of the narrating character in the title of each chapter (I’ve seen this in other books). That way it would not have taken me a few pages into each new chapter before figuring out who the narrator was this time…

I also noticed that she “lied” in her presentation at the club. When asked if she based her characters on herself she said categorically “no”, arguing that when editors say “write about what you know“ it is a misconception that authors write about themselves. In the contrary, my experience in the literary world tells me that writers (consciously or not) always put a part of themselves into some of their characters. McKenzie characters are often working in the legal world so she clearly uses part of “what she knows” (her own experience as a woman, as a mother, as a lawyer) to create the setting of her fictions. In Hidden (p. 303), Jeff accused Tish of having lied about her golf handicap but she answers that she told him about her bad putting when they first met, adding “I have perfect recall of conversations.” McKenzie used this exact sentence, verbatim, during her presentation as she was explaining that she was sometimes using in her books real conversations she had had or had heard. I rest my case.

Hidden was a very good reading. I enjoyed it greatly. It’s nice sometimes to read a simple book about the complex life of everyday people. I’ll certainly try to read more of Catherine McKenzie’s work.

Hidden, by Catherine McKenzie. Toronto: HarperCollins, June 2013. 360 pages, 14 x 21.5 in, $C 19.99. ISBN 978-1-44341-190-5. For young adult (16+). stars-3-5

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWorldCat ]

© 2013 by Catherine McKenzie

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Capsules

Vendredi nature [002.020.052]

Ursus maritimus

IMG_5524

[ iPhone 8+, Musée de la Civilisation, 2019/06/26 ]

Squelette d’ours polaire, archipel arctique canadien, Musée canadien de la nature

J’ai pris cette photo en visitant l’exposition “Curiosités du monde naturel” qui se tenait au Musée de la Civilisation de Québec du 16 mai 2019 au 19 janvier 2020. J’en ai déjà parlé dans mes billets “Vendredi nature” des 002.020.017002.020.024, 002.020.031002.020.038 et 002.020.045. Voir aussi le vidéo memento de ma visite.
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