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Natsuki isn't like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.

Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki's family are increasing, her friends wonder why she's still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki's childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?

247 pages, Hardcover

First published August 31, 2018

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About the author

Sayaka Murata

33 books4,686 followers
Sayaka Murata (in Japanese, 村田 沙耶香) is one of the most exciting up-and-coming writers in Japan today.
She herself still works part time in a convenience store, which gave her the inspiration to write Convenience Store Woman (Konbini Ningen). She debuted in 2003 with Junyu (Breastfeeding), which won the Gunzo Prize for new writers. In 2009 she won the Noma Prize for New Writers with Gin iro no uta (Silver Song), and in 2013 the Mishima Yukio Prize for Shiro-oro no machi no, sono hone no taion no (Of Bones, of Body Heat, of Whitening City). Convenience Store Woman won the 2016 Akutagawa Award. Murata has two short stories published in English (both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori): "Lover on the Breeze" (Ruptured Fiction(s) of the Earthquake, Waseda Bungaku, 2011) and "A Clean Marriage" (Granta 127: Japan, 2014).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,017 reviews
Profile Image for Robin.
475 reviews2,560 followers
July 2, 2020
This book is off the hook.

If I try to explain what happens in the plot, I will sound insane. And it is. The plot is outrageous and over the top - the oppression, the abuse, and then the equally shocking response to it. It's wild, fearless, and what makes it even stranger is that it's told in this completely simple, straightforward, conversational tone. It draws you in, with the ease of a YA novel. You almost think, hey, this is about 11 year old kids. I'm not that interested. But don't be fooled... it's about to get about as dark and twisted as your worst nightmare.

So yeah, I would like to avoid sounding insane. But I'd also like to avoid spoiling the experience for you. It's best, I believe, if you read this knowing as little as possible going in. Go for the ride. It's one of the most freaky-deaky in the whole amusement park.

It's freaky because as crazy as the main characters' actions seem, I supported them. Why? Because living in "The Factory" - society - isn't easy. Don't you ever feel like an alien? I sure as hell do. Don't you ever feel like you'd rather die than conform to what is expected of you? Or if you do, doesn't it feel like a slow death?

"The Factory" is often propagated most by those closest to us. I lived this way, so you need to, too. This is what you do now, and this is what you do next, and there's no room for you if you don't. There's no room in the factory for individuality. For those healing from scars or trauma. For those who have a unique-to-them path.

Murata's characters make room. This story is told vastly outside the box. And I love it because of that.

Thank you to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kat.
260 reviews79.2k followers
July 13, 2022




(cw: child abuse, rape (of a minor), incest, murder, cannibalism)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jack Edwards.
Author 1 book184k followers
April 16, 2022
Provocative, chaotic, and absurd -- the kind of book you can't explain at all without spoiling it. Expect the unexpected... and also expect your jaw to drop.
Profile Image for Meike.
1,474 reviews2,307 followers
May 1, 2021
English Edition: Earthlings
The follow-up to Convenience Store Woman is absolutely outrageous: Rebellion, misogyny, hikikomori, incest, murder, cannibalism - Murata takes no prisoners. And have I mentioned that the whole story is a parable on modern society AND a dark fairy tale full of twists and turns that will lure you into a dark room and beat you to death with a trophy (don't ask)? Don't let yourself be fooled by that cute cover, it's aiming to point you in the wrong direction so the ultimate shock will be all the more vicious.

Our narrator is Natsuki, and she begins her story by telling us about some crucial experiences from her childhood: As she was verbally and physically abused by her parents and older sister and sexually exploited by a teacher, she has developed depersonalization strategies and used her vivid imagination in order to deal with her dire situation. But Natsuki wants to live, not only to survive - a longing she shares with her cousin Yu, whom his needy, depressive mother demeans by calling him an alien. Yu believes her - why else wouldn't he fit in? In the old family estate that used to house a silkworm farm, the outsiders fall in love - until something tears them apart.

Fast forward: 34-year-old Natsuki has entered a marriage of convenience and she is still surviving instead of living. While she and her husband Tomoobi aren't close, they both agree that they don't want to serve "the factory", meaning a society that requires them to adhere to its strict standards and to focus on work and procreation in order to perpetuate the status quo - they don't want their bodies to become instruments of capitalism and conformism. When they travel to the old family estate where they meet Yu, the three of them hatch a plan to finally escape "the factory" and live as another species...

While the English title is "Earthlings", referring to the society our three main characters reject, the German title translates to "The Silkworm Room", which features as a double metaphor in the story: One the one hand, the silkworm farm in the family estate used to be its own kind of factory, but now that it is defunct, the house is (in a metaphorical sense) an industrial ruin where Natsuki, Yu and Tomoobi are trying to build their own kind of cocoon. All of them are traumatized by childhood experiences, Tomoobi was somewhat of a hikikomori and he and Natsuki don't want to have sex (neither with each other nor with other partners) - but shouldn't it be up to them to decide how they want to live, whether they want to have children, whether they want to adhere to traditional gender roles and conform to the expectations of society? Isn't conformism really a form of brainwashing, as Yuki maintains? Or is it just their trauma that keeps them from successfully participating in society, pushing them into unhappy lives as outsiders?

...and then we witness how they decide to live outside society - and it makes the reader question everything. It's utterly shocking and brilliantly done, a clash of Ryū Murakami's gore and Han Kang's psychological investigations into the question whether the individual or society is mad (or both). In this anti-bildungsroman, socialisation is brainwashing, and the alternative is...well, you'll have to read the book to find out!

Unsettling and unputdownable, this mean little novel punches its readers in the guts, and while the attack might hurt a little, it's also unbelievably entertaining. If you want to learn more about the novel, you can listen to our podcast episode, my radio piece or my interview with translator Ursula Gräfe (all in German).
Profile Image for Tim.
471 reviews595 followers
December 21, 2020
Well, I just read two extreme horror novels. Time for a break. Something light-hearted, something silly... what's this? A Japanese novel about a woman who thinks she's an alien and with a cute cover? No doubt this will be a light comedic read.



No, no it was not. This review is going to be mostly covered in a spoiler tag, but let me stress this to would be readers. This is the single most uncomfortable read I've had all year (and this has been a year filled with mostly horror novels for me). This is honestly one of the most uncomfortable books I've ever read. I won't say the MOST, but certainly up there.

Overall I cannot say I was a fan of this one. It's an interesting read, and certainly a unique experience. While I'm all for horror and weird fiction, it's so tonally all over the place that I never really "enjoyed" reading it. It's an interesting curiosity, but not one I'd want to repeat. 2/5 stars
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,113 reviews8,043 followers
February 6, 2022
I cannot recommend this book to people because if I tell you I liked it, then you read this, you will probably wonder what's wrong with me or at least question my taste in books. Before getting into this review, please be warned this book is extremely graphic at times, trigger warnings for sexual assault and verbal & physical abuse. And I don't say that lightly. It gets quite intense and if you don't have a strong stomach, this book might not be for you.

That being said, all of the things Sayaka Murata does in this book are so clever and challenging. It's not grotesque, bizarre or outlandish just for the shock factor. Her commentary on bodily autonomy, societal 'norms' and coming of age is profound and pushes the limits of the readers expectations, and comfort.

The story follows an 11-year old girl named Natsuki who suffers abuse at every turn and feels like such an outsider that she assumes she is an alien from outer space, not an earthling like everyone else. She has a close relationship with her cousin and on one summer trip to her grandparent's countryside house an event occurs that deeply affects the family and Natsuki's relationship with her cousin. There's another plot point where Natsuki is groomed by her schoolteacher and forced to commit acts against her will that will severely scar her for life. She learns to cope by resisting society's expectations of what it means to be a woman and be part of the 'baby factor' that she sees around her.

There is so much to unpack with this book. It's dark and disturbing, but I found it compelling and challenging to my own beliefs at times, especially ones that I didn't even know I held. It made me consider questions like:
"Why do we generally as a society treat relationships based on sexual intimacy over those based on companionship?"
"What does it mean to be a person in a human body, and how do we embody but not become entrapped by these physical vessels?"
"How are we expected to handle trauma when society wants us to both be our authentic selves but not disturb the status quo?"

I admired this book for how it made me feel for Natsuki. Her childlike naivete was further contrasted by her secret knowing of right and wrong, and that foil was devastating and so well written on the page. Murata captures that simple language of a child and we see how Natsuki is sort of frozen in that POV for decades due to the way she is treated and expected to handle herself, without any emotional support system.

While I can't recommend this book broadly, I think it confirms Murata is a writer that I am impressed and intrigued by and will definitely be keeping an eye on. If this sounds too dark for you, I don't blame you. However, I would encourage you to check our Murata's other novel Convenience Store Woman which tonally is quite different, not nearly as graphic, but addresses many similar themes of subverting social norms and being on the fringes of society as you seek to live your authentic life.
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book1,723 followers
August 8, 2021
I am so moved by this novel. It's entirely unique and yet it flows mysteriously in the same mighty river of fiction that has sprung up in these last years, written by women from all over the world, who are suddenly writing in a fierce and visceral and entirely ruthless way about what it's like to be different.

This novel is outrageous and funny in some parts, and it's outrageous and heartbreaking in others. I never knew what to expect, but then, every time the unexpected happened on the page, I thought: "of course. I know this feeling. I've lived this feeling, even if I've never thought about it quite this way before now."

I wasn't entirely on board for Murata's previously translated novel, "Convenience Store Woman," which struck me as accomplished, but a little safe. EARTHLINGS, in contrast, is radically risky. It's likely to be one of my favorites of the year. Murata invites us readers to take a leap into the unknown with her story, only for us to discover later that we know all too well what she's writing about.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.7k followers
June 11, 2021
The truth is that I am easily disturbed.

My metaphorical gag reflex is very sensitive. (No comment on my literal gag reflex, you pervs.) (Okay I am sorry about the sex joke in the second line of a review but also at the same time if you can't handle me at my PG-13 you cannot handle this book for even a singular second, so. Consider yourself warned.)

I get grossed out by almost anything. Ottessa Moshfegh books (even though I read her whole backlist). People fake puking on TV. Bad smells.

This book thereby threatened to be my cause of death.

It has basically the same themes as Convenience Store Woman: An oddball woman is shirked by society for her refusal to blend in to the "factory" by achieving gainful employment, getting married, and poppin' out babies. Great theme. Convenience Store Woman was an awesome read for me, both in accomplishing this and in how it did it.

This book has exactly the same theme (already kind of lame) and achieves it through nightmarish circumstances.

This needs trigger warnings for incest, sexual assault, pedophilia, graphic violence, bullying, child abuse (both emotional and physical), cannibalism, and probably more things I am forgetting because I have spent the two weeks since I read this trying to repress it.

All of this would feel gratuitous and unnecessary even if I didn't know the author could carry across the same themes as effectively (or even more so) without including any of it.

But I do know that. So.

Bottom line: I'm sorry but ICK!!!


i feel like i just fought this book and the book won.

review to come / 2 stars?????

tbr review

this book's cover: i am adorable!! i am sweet and nice!!! little toy hedgehog!

this book's contents: i am darkness. i am the void. i am your worst nightmares put together alongside things you could never even imagine.


taking lily's idea and reading only books by asian authors this month!

book 1: the incendiaries
book 2: last night at the telegraph club
book 3: dear girls
book 4: sigh, gone
book 5: frankly in love
book 6: emergency contact
book 7: your house will pay
book 8: convenience store woman
book 9: on earth we're briefly gorgeous
book 10: we are not free
book 11: searching for sylvie lee
book 12: the displaced
book 13: schoolgirl
book 14: sweet bean paste
book 15: little fires everywhere
book 16: trust exercise
book 17: front desk
book 18: the bride test
book 19: interior chinatown
book 20: it's not like it's a secret
book 21: almost american girl
book 22: never let me go
book 23: prairie lotus
book 24: earthlings
Profile Image for Henk.
822 reviews
December 23, 2020
Don’t let the cute cover fool you. This is a deadpan account of trauma, sexual abuse, the stifling nature of conformity and breaking taboos to try and set oneself free from a limiting definition of being human
Children’s lives never belong to them. The grownups own us.

I liked the first part of this book markedly more than the latter. The perspective of a young person being forced into a mould and to be “normal” really was portrayed in a way that I thought had emotional impact. That Japanese society is quite harsh towards women is definitely something that is similar to Convenience Store Woman. But the main characters lack of agency as a grown up, still being bullied by her sisters and parents to conform, spoke much less to me. In general this book is quite brutal in terms of what Natsuki endures and how she is treated by almost anyone around her.

The ending was bizarre, but in a way I found it fitting in the overall story and how it reflects on conformity and society.
Making your own cult to defy the demands of traditional society and childhood trauma.
In defiance there is breaking of taboos as a way of rescinding limiting definitions of humanity.
Breaking oneself down to the ground to become something new.
Earthlings is quite philosophical for a short book with such a cute cover.

While reading I had Haruki Murakami Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World in mind due to the subversion of normal society in a matter of fact way and Natsuo Kirino Out vibes with the scenes at the end.
Also the dreamlike, apocalyptic ending that centers on transcendence of humanity reminded me of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
A very Japanese tale in that sense! 🎌

Quotes (most of them quite brutal):
“Family” is hard work I thought.

My town is a factory for the production of human babies.

The breeding pairs raise their young inside their nests. I live in one of these nests too.

I wanted to study harder and become the sort of child that grownups found useful. Then, even if I was worthless, maybe I wouldn’t be thrown out.

Yes, I had to get on with studying. I had to study hard, become the sort of child that pleased adults and eventually the sort of adult that pleased other adults.

Would I ever be able to live without constantly trying to survive?

“Children’s lives never belong to them. The grownups own us.”

Inside his skin his body was making sounds.

How long do we have to just survive? When will we be able to live rather than just focussing on surviving?
When we grow up. Then we’ll be able to live.

The baby she had produced was sleeping in its cot in the living room.

Submission had been a coping strategy for him as a child I realized.

He’s my partner, but that doesn’t mean we’re friends.

If you didn’t like it, you should have told him! It’s your fault for not turning him down. Apart from anything, if you hated him so much, you shouldn’t have gone to his house, right?

After all, he was so cool you must have purposely let down your guard. That’s basically consenting, isn’t it? I can’t understand why you’re playing the tragic heroine, really.

I hate to be the one to say this, but he didn’t even force you to go all the way, did he? So I kind of wonder why you’re acting so traumatized.

And it’s a wife’s duty to be intimate, you know.

Both Mom and my sister kept going on and on about how wonderful motherhood was, as if it were some kind of religion. I was still hoping to be brainwashed. But repeating “motherhood is wonderful” over and over like a Buddhist chant was hardly going to be enough to brainwash me on its own. It just made me feel uncomfortable.
Profile Image for Matteo Fumagalli.
Author 1 book7,852 followers
January 31, 2023
Carissima Murata Sayaka,
come stai? Tutto bene? Cosa ti fumi? Hai mangiato pesante?

Argomenti tosti raccontati con intensità, sotto la coltre dell'immaginazione infantile che si tinge di surrealismo, body horror e fantascienza. Qua e là si respira del cinismo sulla società umana che tocca dei picchi distopici.

Spaventoso e bellissimo.
Tra i migliori romanzi che abbia letto ultimamente.
Profile Image for Marchpane.
293 reviews2,106 followers
August 29, 2020
‘It’s really hard to put into words things that are just a little bit not okay.’

Earthlings. Where to start with this book? Tonally, it is all over the place. At times it reads with such naivete and simple language it could be a children’s book. But then it turns dark. VERY dark.

There are (warning!) explicit scenes of child sexual abuse described in first person from the child’s POV. There are eruptions of surreal violence and gore. Things get... weird.

In its calmer, more realist moments, this novel actually does share a lot in common with Murata’s Convenience Store Woman, as protagonist Natsuki has no interest in career or parenthood, and enters into a phony marriage just to get people off her back:

‘Society was a system for falling in love. People who couldn’t fall in love had to fake it. What came first: the system or love? All I knew was that love was a mechanism designed to make Earthlings breed.’

I’m tempted to call Earthlings an ‘anti-coming-of-age’ novel. We meet Natsuki at age 11 and then again at age 34, skipping over those years we typically deem most formative. But the missing twenty-odd years seem not to have changed Natsuki at all—she remains frozen in time, perhaps as a result of the abuse and cruelty she suffered as a child—nor have they shaken her belief in planet Popinpobopia and the fantasy she takes refuge in: being a literal alien.

Natsuki and her husband both feel alienated; chafing against social strictures, they would rather believe they are Popinpobopians than become capitalistic and reproductive ‘tools’ for ‘The Factory’. This sends them down a bizarre path of nonconformism and taboo-breaking. Thematically then, Earthlings is a distant cousin of other tales of disaffected, transgressive anarchism like Fight Club.

It is hard to know how to rate this book, as I was transfixed while not really enjoying it. Murata raises weighty issues, gestures towards meaningful discourse, before veering away into surreal horror & gore. The climactic frenzy of ingurgitation is a metaphor-made-literal that readers are left to interpret for themselves. But I wasn’t invested enough to try. Maybe life on Earth is too weird right now for these aliens to land.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,452 reviews12.8k followers
April 13, 2020
Sayaka Murata’s back with another story of a social outsider - and it’s even worse than Convenience Store Woman!

Natsuki is a little girl that gets physically and verbally abused by her horrible mother, sexually abused by her teacher and, after a bout of incest, attempts suicide - guys, you’ll never believe it but somehow she turns out to be a complete mess of an adult!

Yeah I didn’t like Earthlings at all. A lot of the gross scenes felt gratuitously described to little or no effect (beyond the obvious shock factor) and the message Murata seemed to be going for felt trite and immature. Conformism is brainwashing, maaan, society is like a factory, etc. This kind of banal commentary isn’t new or clever - rejecting societal norms doesn’t make you a radical, it makes you an average teenager.

I get that Japanese society is more restrictive than most western societies. There’s a strong emphasis on family, living outside of the norm is discouraged, it’s patriarchal (though this is slowly changing), and the focus is much more on the group than the individual. Perhaps something like this would seem more transgressive in that context. But not to this reader in the UK - this was just childish silliness.

Natsuki was an annoying character for the most part even though I felt sorry for her. Her inner dialogue was irritating - as a kid she’s either banging on about survival or wittering on about being an alien or a witch with her imaginary friend Piyyut, and as an adult she’s talking idiotically about rationalism. Yuu and Tomoya were equally stupid - they all deserved each other. Three morons exchanging stilted comments about nothing to highlight… what? That this is what a buttoned-down society reduces people to when they don’t fall in line? I’m not impressed if it is.

I found Earthlings unpleasant for large portions of the novel, the characters all absurd, the point obvious and simple, and the story always really, really boring. After this and Convenience Store Woman, I don’t think Sayaka Murata’s books are for me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
781 reviews5,390 followers
July 11, 2022
Survive, whatever it takes.

The reward for conformity,’ wrote author Rita Mae Brown, ‘is that everyone like you but yourself.’ The alienation that comes from an inability or distaste for conforming with society is heart and center in the works of Sayaka Murata. Revisiting and revitalizing many themes addressed in her brilliant, previous novel Convenience Store Woman--which hit English-speaking shelves in 2018 translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori--Murata’s newest novel, Earthlings goes further into a darker investigation of a patriarchal society that perpetuates itself as a ‘Baby Factory’ as the narrator Natsuki often terms it. With a detached tone similar to Keiko from Convenience Store Woman, Natsuki relays her life story stitching past and present back and forth to address issues of alienation, the crushing machinery of conformity, and the question if happiness is attainable within it all. In Earthlings, alienation from society might literally mean being an alien, as Natsuki suspects she may be after her cousin Yuu tells her during childhood that he is from the planet Popinpobobia. Delightfully disturbing, Earthlings follows Natsuki through her struggles in a society she both rejects yet wishes she could be ‘brainwashed’ into participating within as she is beleaguered by oppressive family, the lusts of teachers, the distrust of friends and more all while stumbling through tragic attempts of survival against the world.

In Earthlings it is a bit like Murata worried people may have missed the dark social criticisms beneath the charming atmosphere of Convenience Store Woman and wanted to make sure the grittier aspects hit home. Here we also find a young social outcast but while Keiko was able to find her happening working in a convenience store despite social pressures, Natsuki does not feel she can happily belong anywhere on Earth. With good reason, as much of her childhood is fraught with sorrow, shame and scandal. Her mother openly dislikes her and she feels they would be better off without her. ‘If I wasn’t here, the three of them would make a perfect unit,’ she thinks, a feeling that expands to her feeling about her place in society as she ages.

This is only exponentially aggrieved by other societal pressures to get married and have children, to participate in the Baby Factory as she terms society.
The Baby Factory produces humans connected by flesh and blood…
Once shipped out, male and female humans are trained how to take food back to their own nests. They become society’s tools, receive money from other humans and purchase food. Eventually these young humans aso form breeding pairs, coop themselves up in new nests, and manufacture more babies.
This clinically sardonic tone permeates the whole of the novel. At times her and her husband’s takes on society with their own set of buzzwords reads like an annoying conspiracy theorist uncle ruining a family gathering, but under the satirical surface there is a lot of heart to what Murata is conveying. This flat tone to the narration works because Natsuki is not only on the fringe of society but also is a reaction to her life experiences.

Bad things happen to Natsuki, either forced upon her or the ways in which her own actions are met with consequences from an obdurate mother. Though she copes with this by believing she has magical powers and that her stuffed toy is an emissary from another world here to make sure she completes her magical quest to save humanity. What occasionally comes across as magical realism in the novel is literally Natsuki experiencing a break from reality as a coping or defense mechanism. ‘I must use my magical powers to stay alive,’ she thinks, ‘I must become empty. I must obey.’ I won’t spoil anything but be forewarned that a Trigger Warning list would be a page long and Murata reaches for moments intended to shock and startle you. This is sort of like a cutting punk rock of books, and it is very effective. Out of body experiences, hallucinations, the loss of the ability to taste, and others are all reactions to the events in her life that she is struggling to process.

What makes Natsuki’s emotional growth even more difficult for her is the ways she is misunderstood as well as neglected. ‘The grown ups, who did what society wanted of them, were shaken by those of us who did not.’ Feeling alienated from her family, her society, and unable to reach planet Pobinpobobia, Natsuki decides she must ‘ stop being a hindrance and become a useful tool for society,’ which, ultimately, leaves her joyless. She marries a man into a sexless relationship after finding him on a website for people who want to partner up in order to avoid being hounded about marriage, a similar constant complaint that plagues Keiko in Convenience Store Woman and thrusts her into a partnership with a very toxic man.

But does following in the guidelines of society lead to happiness? Is it merely ‘surviving but not living’ in the world. The demands are always piling up and there becomes a lack of freedom. ‘I hate people who insist on their rights while neglecting their duty,’ her father-in-law says to her because she has not yet had children. All her life both her and her husband have wanted to just be themselves but society demands their strict adherence to be what they want them to be. Yuu, the cousin she decides to marry when they are children, has lead a life listening to orders. ‘I could hear adults telling me what they wanted me to do, even though they didn’t say it out loud,’ he confesses. He obeyed the voices of society to go to school, get a job, do what the company asks until one day the company went bankrupt and left him stranded.
I’ve stopped hearing the commands that controlled my life. I no longer know what to do or how to live. Obeying those silent orders was how I had always survived.
As someone who grew up obedient and easy to manipulate, Natsuki empathizes with this and sees how society makes you a tool that can be discarded, not a valued being of the planet. Even when one is hurting, society always finds a reason to further victimize the victim because it is inconvenient to address societal ills. Upon telling a friend of a rape, the friend chastises her accusing her of playing the ‘tragic heroine’ in an altogether himpathetic moment that reveales how the patriarchal society enforces and perpetuates its power.

With this lack of respect for people, Natsuki wonders how this can be a happy life and if the rules of society really have any value. The three of them begin to try and view life with their ‘alien eye’, to see the world as an interstellar traveler might. ‘Taboos are just a form of brainwashing,’ her husband theorizes, ‘seen through an alien eye none of them are worth bothering about. They are irrational.’ This is fairly indicative towards Murata’s approach, bombarding the reader with some pretty taboo episodes and asking them to determine how irrational they may or may not be through an alien eye. There is an interesting interplay between their desire for a lack of social codes with the very tradition-heavy family memories from the beginning which the husband finds quite endearing despite his revulsion for social structure. It is also used as a subtle touch of comedy how the idea of aliens living amongst humans and magical powers is seemingly fantastical and irrational however religious and cultural beliefs such as the scene where she cannot let a candle go out lest the spirits of the ancestors will be lost in the dark and not return as totally normalized in society.

While the plot goes to extremes and is rather engaging, Murata is best when exploring the mundane nuances of life. This works particularly well through her simple yet effective Baby Factory theory and the ways any incongruence with the Factory’s demands seems to bring sadness or anger into the lives of those who fail it.
Grown ups had it tough, too, I thought. Miss SHinozuka functioned well enough as one of society’s tools, but maybe wasn’t functioning properly as one of society’s reproductive organs.
She was in the position of educating me and ruled over me, but at the same time she herself was also being judged as a tool of society.
There are acute observations such as this as to the hierarchies of society and how outcasts exist at every level. The sad truth being that this is a system we are all self-perpetuating by existing in it, though leaving it may lead to one’s own destruction.

What constitutes survival, how can you find happiness, and is their plan to become Popinpobopians and abandon human society a freedom or chaos? Where Keiko eventually remains in retail work because being a cog makes her happy despite it violating social norms, Earthlings explores the possibility of violating social norms by leaving everything behind, letting nothing be taboo and attempting to embrace radical freedom to question all social constructs. Based on your interpretation of the ending which arguably isn’t quite as well pulled off as it could have been but still thrilling and powerful (it is certainly a holy shit moment not for the faint of heart), you might decide that there must be some happy medium you can hopefully find for yourself between the fates of the two narrators.

Disarming, disturbing, but nonetheless rather delightful all the same, Earthlings is certainly not a book one will forget. Fans of Murata’s previous novel may be alarmed and offput by the openly dark nature of this book--my best comparison would be something from Jakov Lind with the way the humor is so bleak and dark you feel filthy for enjoying it--but it is rather effective and isn’t merely shock value. Approach at your own risk, but it is worthwhile if you can handle it (though actually recommending it makes me feel too much like the weird manager I once had who would basically force new employees to watch the movie Cannibal Holocaust because he got his kicks from disturbing people I guess?) Murata takes a deep, insightful stab at society and notions of individualism and comes up with blood on her hands, it is really something.


I’m not any good at being free. I’m used to following orders, but there aren’t any signposts anymore.
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
920 reviews3,023 followers
November 26, 2021
I read Convenience store woman earlier this year and fell in love with it. Earthlings had been on my to-read list for a long time, but I never got around to reading it.

And now that I've finished it, I'm thinking about it. I'm still undecided about whether I should give it 4 or 5 stars because the dark plot had me twisted and I'll never forget it. Though the concept is similar to that of the Convenience store woman , this one is more bold, dark, and twisted in every manner.

I won't go into detail about the plot because the blurb says everything and anything more I say would be a spoiler.

The concept of constructing a whole other universe with your imagination to the point that you can forget you were ever a part of the earth community, or is it required to live with the community we are allocated to, completely perplexes me. All of this was done for self-defense, to keep you safe from the earthlings before they brainwash you.

Sayaka Murata writes in a lyrical, assertive, and engrossing style. It's worth admiring the imagery and visuals she generates with her words. I never felt repulsed when reading any gory violence scenes; it was completely perplexing and wonderful how she could produce such a lovely representation.

Many of you may want to put the book down after chapter 4 since something evil lurks behind Murata's initially pleasant and mystical ambiance. You can continue reading it if you can read or accept sheer craziness. This book is not for everyone, especially those who are easily disgusted. If you're interested in the concept of society vs. individuality and have a strong stomach, it’s certainly worth taking a chance on it.

Get ready for an intoxicating ride with people of outer space who are ready to take everything to absolute madness and inanity.

After writing this review yess I am convinced that this is a 5 star for me..
Profile Image for Debbie.
433 reviews2,744 followers
October 24, 2020
You want crazy? I’ll give you crazy!

This is the most bizarre and unique book I’ve ever read, hands down. Going into this, Geek Love held the title of Weirdest Book Ever, but this book knocked that one off the shelf and stands proudly in its place. Everything in this book is OVER THE TOP (yes, in all caps)! This is just what I needed in a time when our country is over the top in so many ways. Everything in your face, a big deal, all exclamation marks. So why not escape into a book that takes me out of this reality and plops me into a way worse bizarro-land that I can laugh at and marvel at from afar?

I felt nervous at first. Eek, I’d ventured outside my genre. (I seem to be doing that this year.) I was patting myself on the back for that one. I don’t really even know what genre it is. It’s a combo: Dystopian. Sort of. Family drama. Sort of. Horror. Sort of. Here I had landed on the moon, but now what? I was afraid to get out of my spaceship! How bad would it be with moon rocks under my feet? What would I find? Scary!! I finally stepped out, and holy moly was it ever wildly exciting out there!

As I read on, I was getting downright cocky—I’ve got this, oh yeah. For sure it’s one of my favorite books ever! I love every second of it! But then…BUT THEN!! I get to the last scene and it’s WAY too over the top for me. Erase! Erase! Why oh why did the writer go there? But when I think about it, the whole book is so intense and strange, why would I expect anything less as the finale? Suddenly it’s a 4-star read; I can’t give it any less even though I’m pissed that the author went there, went to a place I could not handle. If I take off that final scene (which I can’t, and which I’ll never forget), this is a 6-star read.

It’s hard to talk about the plot without giving too much away, so I’ll just say it’s about a woman who doesn’t fit into society. She wants desperately to conform but she’s no good at it. The book starts with her 11-year-old self. She thinks she’s from another planet (that has a weird, long, and interesting name). Ho, hum, another alienated kid. That part seemed sort of dumb and I wondered if the story would get more interesting (believe me, it does!). Her family is mean and puts pressure on her. There is one very disturbing situation but she takes care of it in the most unusual way. You think she’s pretty cool, but then it gets iffy. Still, you’re on her side.

I could not stop reading. The story is full of nutso ideas and dialogue. At one point, a guy blurts out that he wants to have sex with his grandfather. His friends say it’s not the right thing to do, and then the guy says it’s okay because his grandfather is in a vegetative state. Whaaaaaat? I realize that doesn’t sound funny; you had to be there. You can see what I mean when I say it’s over the top.

The author is Japanese and the book is translated. I wasn’t conscious of the fact that it wasn’t written in English, always a good sign. The writing is simplistic and has a YA feel to it, but note that this cannot be called YA. And the simplicity works because it contrasts so well with the intensity of the story.

I read the author’s earlier novel, Convenience Store Woman, and I liked it. That book, too, is about a woman who doesn’t conform. Of the two books, Earthlings is the knockout. I will follow this writer anywhere.

You have to enjoy bizarre, dramatic stories and have a tolerance for the horrific to like this book. For me, the upsetting scenes were trumped by the wonderfully crazy plot and characters, but this book is not for everyone.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,921 reviews35.4k followers
December 10, 2020
Sayaka Murata’s “Convenience Store For Women”, was a contemporary unique-charming debut —-with a thirty-ish woman [Keiko]—who didn’t feel as if she ‘fit-in’....
In “The Earthlings”, Natsuki, doesn’t feel she ‘fits-in’, either. As a child — her parents favored her sister, Kise.
She also suffered abuse -(sexual abuse by her math teacher), plus mockery & humiliation from the community ( who Natsuki refers to as ‘The Baby Factory’).
Her best friend was a toy hedgehog named Piyyut.....who explained he came from another planet —Popinpobopia.
Piyyut tells Natsuki that he was visiting earth to help her save it.
They become life long kindred spirits. Piyyut passed on his magical powers to Natsuki. ( which came in handy when needing to dissociate from unbearable reality).

One summer, while visiting grandparents in the Akishina Mountains, Natsuki’s cousin, Yuu, confides to her that he is an extraterrestrial— and every evening he’s searching the sky, looking for his spaceship to take him back home. Natsuki wonders if she, too, was an alien.

As an adult —Natsuki still felt as if she didn’t ‘fit-in’. She married a man who - at first - seemed as though he was an (odd) fit with Natuski.....
He didn’t want to have sex with her - or sleep in the same room (which was okay with her — she thinks.....and justified it ). They ate their meals separately. They each cleaned up after each other, independently. They even took turns washing the toilet.
To say much more about the plot - would just be adding spoilers.

It’s darker than “Convenience Store For Women”....( but if read as a satire— which I did) —it was easier to keep my arms at bay —from feeling how deeply sad this story is. But it’s a sad story.

The creative, unique, quirky storytelling ‘hard-shell-tool’ crafting — help protect the reader from crying their eyes out.
“The Earthlings” examines loneliness—the pressures of reproduction—injustice and inequality in our society— conformity - submissiveness- personal desires - love (“completely irrational not even worth discussing”)....rational and irrational humanity ....

...There are a couple of shocking scenes....
...The absurdities are outlandish....
...The empathy we feel for those who are lonely - [lonely outsiders] — is heartbreaking.
...The stark realism is unforgettable.

The book builds in tension and intensity. It took a couple of chapters to sink my teeth into — but then I couldn’t stop chewing.

“The Earthlings” redefines the word unique....
Sayaka Murata is a one of a kind author.

As sad as this story is....it’s also very entertaining.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
770 reviews1,147 followers
April 19, 2021
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I don't know what it says about my state of mind that this book didn't disturb me, but it's the second book in a month that I was warned about that hardly made me blink an eye. 

There's some messed up shit in this book. I should have been squirming and ugh-ing and needing to just stop reading.... but no. Didn't happen. I think I've grown a little numb. 

It's a fun book to read, whether or not your brain is screwy and unbothered by.... stuff. 

It's a story about fitting in, or not. About the demands that are heaped upon us by the society we live in and by our friends and families. The expectation to conform and the price we pay when we don't. I don't want to talk about the plot because I don't want to give anything away. I think it's best to go into it knowing little about it. 

As other reviewers have mentioned, there are trigger warnings galore. However, maybe you're like me and your brain cells aren't triggering easily these days because they've been hijacked by worries in the real world. 

Maybe I should want to squeeze my eyes tight shut and try to forget what I just read..... but no. It's fine. It's fucked up and it's fine.

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Profile Image for Michael || TheNeverendingTBR.
449 reviews152 followers
February 10, 2023
Possibly the most bizarre novel I've ever read that just gets even more outrageous as you get further into it.

It's a well-written book though but it just got too weird for me towards the end.

It covers a range of disturbing themes including sexual abuse, incest, murder and cannibalism.

Despite the subject matter, there were lighter moments that were nice to read but overall it's a deeply unsettling and heartbreaking read, so beware.

I wouldn't read this again. 😶
Profile Image for The Artisan Geek.
445 reviews7,227 followers
January 26, 2021
One year later, I finally did a full review on this one :)
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------

What a story! I got a limited edition ARC, because I'll be doing something fun with the publisher, so I can't really say anything about the contents of the book - will do in the future! :)

Granta was so so kind to gift me a copy of this book! I'll be reading it today :)

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitch | Twitter | Tumblr | Website | The Storygraph
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 4 books323 followers
July 2, 2022
My complete review of Earthlings is published at Grimdark Magazine.

See that cute stuffed hedgehog on the cover of Earthlings? That’s Piyyut. He’s best friends with Natsuki, the book’s narrator, an 11-year-old girl who is also a self-described magician. As explained by Natsuki:

“I hugged my backpack to me. Inside it was my origami magic wand and my magical transformation mirror. At the very top of the backpack was my best friend, Piyyut, who gave me these magical objects. Piyyut can’t speak human since the evil forces put a spell on him, but he’s looking after me so I won’t get carsick.”

Natsuki goes on to explain that Piyyut isn’t actually a stuffed animal. He is an alien from the Planet Popinpobopia who has given Natsuki a special mission:

“The Magic Police had found out the Earth was facing a crisis and had sent him on a mission to save our planet. Since then I’d been using the powers he’d given me to protect the Earth.”

This is all very cute for a young child, right? It’s not so cute when Natsuki grows up and still believes even more firmly in these childhood fantasies.

Earthlings starts off with a lighthearted style and then descends very quickly into darkness. Some of the trigger warnings include child abuse, incest, murder, and cannibalism. It gets very dark, very fast.

Adult Natsuki has brought two other characters into her delusions: her cousin and her asexual husband. They are convinced that they are all aliens and are determined to be true to their Popinpobopian roots and reject human society, which they see as a conformist Baby Factory. Murata handles the themes of asexuality and anticonformity brilliantly in Earthlings, as she has done previously in her well-known novel, Convenience Store Woman.

Earthlings is very Japanese in its dark and quirky sense of humor and its combination of the kawaii (cute) and the obscene. I found Earthlings to be a unique and highly original read. The closest book I can compare this to is Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. But even that comparison is a stretch.

Sayaka Murata’s writing is perfect throughout Earthlings. Her writing style is a joy, even while the plot sinks deeper into insanity and obscenity.

Strangely enough, this is my fifth book this year with “surprise” cannibalism. Is this a new trend in publishing? At least Murata makes it sound more appealing than other authors:

“‘We’ll have a feast tonight!’ my husband cried happily. We prepared three Man dishes: Miso Soup with Man, Daikon Leaf and Man Stir-Fry, and Man Simmered in Sweetened Soy Sauce.”

Obviously, this book is not for everyone. But if you love quirky Japanese novels with a twisted and macabre sense of humor—coupled with deep insights about the conformist nature of human society—then you’ll probably appreciate Earthlings as much as I did.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,217 reviews2,211 followers
October 4, 2020

((Dropped from a 2 to a 1 Star after a few weeks consideration))

**Arc received from NetGalley - thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this ARC!

Okay so... this was a bit... too much.

I read "The Convenience Store Woman" last year and really enjoyed it. I was prepared (and excited!) for this book to be weird... but it went a little too far in my opinion.

This book had some really good conversations - such as autonomy of one's own body and life, a lot of commentary on women's bodies and place in society, and the ostracization of people society views as different.

This book has a LOT of trigger warnings for: child abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, familial abuse, sexual abuse, children (like ACTUAL children like 10 or 11 years old, not 17 year olds) having sex with each other, manipulation, cannibalism, incest and probably other things I can't even remember at the moment.

To me, this book could have been wonderful. It could have really been about the psyche and mental trauma of a child who faced a LOT of adversity because of not fitting into society and having incredibly abusive and manipulative family members and how young children cope with these traumas, as well as how adults who have faced these situations cope as they get older.

But Murata took it to a level that verged on parody. The absolute ridiculousness that was paired with these incredibly intense, upsetting narrative made me feel very strange and definitely, at times, felt like she was making fun of these situations. In the same paragraph we would have a child being sexually abused and then also talking about an alien world. Again, it could have been an interesting exploration of coping with trauma, but the entire alien world and being alien thing just went on for too long and went too far into ridiculousness. The last 50ish pages of this were near un-readable for me cause I was just so baffled and cringing every 30 seconds. As well as, the absolute over-the-top reactions from the main character's family and friends, again, almost felt like a parody. I feel like if any woman (or man tbh!) has ever faced conversations like this (ie; not wanting or being able to have children) they might read these conversations and feel like Murata was making fun of these situations.

By going this weird with this novel, I felt like Murata really took away from a very important story. I love weird, I love speculative and fucky stories, but this one just didn't do it for me. I hadn't wanted a story to just BE OVER like I did with this one in a very long time.

I'm giving it 2 stars because when it WASN'T being super fucky and weird, this really did have a lot of wonderful commentary and interesting explorations into humanity and modern society.
Profile Image for Pedro .
184 reviews388 followers
December 8, 2020
Don’t be misled by the kind of cute little (short-eared) Mogwai on the cover because if you ever decide to open this book what you’re going to find inside it can only be described as a Gremlin.

This novel starts like a light YA novel but very quickly evolves into a nightmare.

The writing is deceptively simple with a dreamlike quality to it and the narrator’s (young) voice very relatable.

As I said, it didn’t take long before I realised this wasn’t going to be what the cute cover suggested. In a very subtle way, some new elements were added to the narrative and it all started to feel a bit odd (in a good way). After the first hints of weirdness it became just plain weird. In a wonderful and intriguing kind of way, I mean, but weird nonetheless.

It’s really hard to put into words things that are just a little bit not okay.

In all honesty I must admit there was even a moment when I felt like all of it was just getting a bit too strange for my liking, but then the story turned a different and unexpected corner again, this time towards discomfort (Ugh!) and Murata totally had me back in her hands.

Taboos are just a form of brainwashing too. Seen through an alien eye none of them are worth bothering about. They are irrational.

When I was halfway through it and perhaps because I’ve read Murata’s Convenience Store Woman I was then sure this wasn’t going to be the same kind of story. Both novels share the same views of alienation and loneliness in today’s society but the similarities end there. Convenience Store Woman is a “down to earth” kind of story while Earthlings is the kind of story that brings to mind Haruki Murakami’s magical realism. However, I’m not going to place this novel next to Sputnik, Sweetheart or 1Q84. I think the right place for it on my book shelf is right next to Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police.

It was also from the middle section onwards that the story became a lot darker and even weirder but the author managed to make me feel like I had at least one foot on the ground at all times and that’s what made this a winner for me.

The ending was just crazy over the top; literally like watching a bunch of over fed Gremlins in my bedroom after midnight.
Profile Image for Ms. Smartarse.
579 reviews241 followers
September 23, 2022
Published in English as Earthlings.

Natsuki's been leading a double life: regular middle-schooler by day, extraordinary magical (alien) girl by night. Not an easy balance to keep, but our heroine handles it like a champ. It helps to keep in mind that the mother ship would be picking her up any time now...

The one bright spot amid these trials are the family's yearly get-togethers. Set in the grandparents' house in the countryside, Natsuki looks forward to the company of her secret boyfriend, taking refuge in the mysterious silkworm room, and leaving behind all worries of evil masterminds.

Japanese countryside in anime

I was so excited at the prospect of exploring the magical countryside in rural Japan. As a long-time anime and magical girl fan, this story had the hallmarks of a perfect trip down memory lane. Sure the fantastical aspects seemed rather questionable, but so what? Unraveling the reality behind Natsuki's imaginary life didn't sound like a bad prospect, either.

And the book didn't disappoint. If going down the rabbit-hole is the equivalent of a drug-induced hallucination, the heroine's actual issues just about had my world tilt on its axis. On the one hand, her tragic circumstances broke my heart, yet her awesome payback left me rather conflicted. I wanted to cheer her on, but at some point things got way out of hand.
And I was only halfway through...


I greatly enjoyed the way the plot moved from peaceful family get-together, to creepy sexual exploits, only to culminate with a dramatic revolt against society as a whole. That being said, once you strip down all the (metaphorical) glitter, this is still the tale of a misfit looking for a place of her own, only to realize that she might as well give society the finger. The same concept from Convenience Store Woman, albeit painted in much harsher tones.

Score: 4/5 very weird stars

There is no question of how addicted I got to every creepy little detail, plus the childhood nostalgia of magical girls fighting evil didn't hurt, either. I just wish that its main topic hadn't been so similar to the one from Convenience Store Woman.
...and that epilogue feels tacked on solely for the shock value.


If I were to choose a soundtrack for this book, I'd have to go with Lindsey Stirling's Phantom of The Opera with a twist: a bonus minute of some hardcore, heavy-metal grunting at the end.

ARC kindly provided by Aufbau Verlag and NetGalley for an honest and fair review.
Profile Image for JimZ.
1,000 reviews438 followers
April 19, 2021
Nine days ago, I read “The Sound of a Wild Snail” and had this comment early on in my review:
• I became aware somewhere in the middle of this book that I was saying, out loud, “geez”, over and over again.

In that book I was saying ‘geez” because the author kept on astounding me with the most interesting facts about snails. So, astounding I was saying “geez” out loud a number of times while reading.

For this book I finished the book saying out loud “Jesus” and in the middle saying out loud, I think, “Jesus Christ” …and looking at my notes the last comment I made was “Good god!” I wasn’t necessarily praying… 😬

I need to be honest and say that I probably would have given this book a two-star rating at best if this was the first book I had read by Sayaka Murata, but I liked, actually loved, her first work published in English, Convenience Store Woman so much, I am giving Earthlings a good rating. 🙂

I can understand some of the things, Natsuki, the major protagonist in this novel, does. Something terrible happens to her early on in the novel, and I can give her a pass for what she does in the middle of the novel to a certain teacher. This is one of those novels I want to finish up my review and read what was in Murata’s mind when writing this…what was the point(s) she wanted to convey. It certainly was powerful stuff.

Anyway, a word of caution to those who expect the same sort of writing that was in “Convenience Store Woman” to be in this novel—this is a bit darker. Some will say “a bit darker” is putting it mildly. Bottom line is I remember reading short reviews of “Earthlings” here and there over the last several months and knew coming into the novel that it was “a bit dark” …it certainly lived up to that and then some! 😐

• review gives too much away…read after reading the book— https://www.theguardian.com/books/202...
• from blog-site….gives a bit too much away…read after reading the book: https://www.asymptotejournal.com/crit...

Hells bells. Another example where it sure would be great if more of here works were translated into English. This is her 11th novel, 9 of which are in her native language. She’s been wiring for 16 years and we only get a flavor of her writing from the last 3 years. 😕
• Jyunyū (Breastfeeding) Kodansha, 2005, ISBN 9784062127943 [Gunzo Prize for New Writers, 2003]
• Gin iro no uta (Silver Song), Shinchosha, 2009, ISBN 9784103100713 [Noma Literary New Face Prize]
• Mausu (Mouse), Kodansha, 2008, ISBN 9784062145893
• Hoshi ga sū mizu (Water for the Stars), Kodansha, 2010, ISBN 9784062160971 [Mishima Yukio Prize , 2010]
• Hakobune (Ark), Shueisha, 2011, ISBN 9784087714289
• Shiro-iro no machi no, sono hone no taion no (Of Bones, Of Body Heat, Of Whitening City), Asahi Shimbun, 2012, ISBN 9784022510112 [Mishima Yukio Prize, 2013]
• Tadaima tobira, Shinchosha, 2012, ISBN 9784103100720
• Satsujin shussan (The Murder Births), Kodansha, 2014, ISBN 9784062190466 [Sense of Gender Awards, 2014]
• Shōmetsu sekai (Dwindling World), Kawade Shobo Shinsha, 2015, ISBN 9784309024325
• Konbini ningen (Convenience Store Person), Bungeishunju, 2016, ISBN 9784163906188 [Akutagawa Prize, 2016]
Profile Image for Emily B.
424 reviews417 followers
September 3, 2021
3.5 rounded up.

This novel is super odd to say the least! If you’re looking for something a bit different then give this a try.

I loved how unique it was, although I have to say I did find the abuse parts particularly hard to read, more so than other books actually. Something about it hit a nerve for me.

Overall, I enjoyed it but didn’t find myself completely hooked, instead I was able to make my way through it over a couple of days, despite it being a relatively short book.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,178 reviews2,238 followers
February 14, 2023
There's a lot going on with just the first few chapters. There are a lot of characters which get introduced, a lot of good and not-so-good things happening in the life of Natsuki.
I would say it's a coming of age fiction where it depicts sexual abuse/molestation by a male teacher, a mother who appears to be downright disappointed in her daughter and rather abusive on a constant basis, a close male cousin who is supposedly to be the secret boyfriend/husband. So many things are not handled properly at all. I wasn't expecting this one to be so horrifying! The young girl is trying to escape the pain and neglect believing herself to be a magical being. Damn, it hurts. But I seriously could not grasp the real intention of this book. Yes, I did read this one till the end. It's rather like something written in a very dark, twisted kind of story but without a plot or a theme to discuss about. The characters are so damn annoyingly blind and too whimsical. Too many graphic scenes in the story but I just cannot see the significance of it. The second half did not get any better. The ending was a complete mess.
Maybe I was expecting something else from this story. Even if I wasn't, this one was just not for me.
I got triggered but I didn't get anything out of it - at least all it had to do was give me some assurance or some kind of closure. Too much of abuse and physical violence just don't go well if the story doesn't do anything about it.

I was expecting too much from this book I suppose. I totally love the first book by the author. This is a total let down for me.
But I am glad #NetGalley gave me an ARC of it.
Thank you.
Profile Image for Melanie.
548 reviews293 followers
August 3, 2020
I feel the need to bleach my brain. I wish there was an indication in the blurb about just how vicious the abuse - both sexual and psychological- of the primary school/teenager is. I read on because I felt I needed to know if she was going to be ok, when I know better. Why did I not DNF? I don’t even know that myself.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,474 reviews19.2k followers
August 27, 2022
This is without a doubt the weirdest book I have ever read. What the fuck lmao

CW: incest, pedophilia, child abuse, death of a loved one, suicide, victim blaming, sexual assault, cannibalism
Profile Image for Phu.
556 reviews100 followers
June 27, 2022

“How long do we have to just survive? When will we be able to live rather than just focusing on surviving?”

Natsuki không giống như những cô bé bình thường khác. Natsuki có một cây đũa thần và gương biến hình từ người bạn nhím bông Piyyut. Người biết Natsuki có phép thuật là em họ Yuu - người nói rằng cậu ấy là người ngoài hành tinh. Cả hai dành những ngày hè bên nhau, thân thiết hơn cả chị em, cho đến khi một sự kiện đã chia cắt họ.
Cuốn sách không phải là thể loại magical hay fantasy, mà nội dung bên trong cực kỳ nặng nề và tăm tối. Nó cho ta thấy những con người khác biệt trong xã hội này, những áp đặt của xã hội đè nặng lên đôi vai của họ.

Một lần nữa tương tự như Convenience Store Woman , Sayaka Murata mang đến một "cuộc hôn nhân giả"; khi trưởng thành - Natsuki kết hôn với người chồng vô tính, Tomoya, chỉ để che đậy những soi mói, thúc giục của mọi người. Trong khi đó những "nghĩa vụ" của xã hội ngày càng đè nặng lên họ.

Earthlings xen kẽ với lời kể về lúc thơ ấu và hiện tại của Natsuki, ta thấy được những điều không hay từ quá khứ đã ảnh hưởng đến cô ấy - bị gia đình đối xử thậm tệ, bị xâm hại tình dục, mà chẳng ai lắng nghe hay giúp đỡ. Natsuki từ nhỏ đã có những suy nghĩ kì lạ về xã hội, và khi lớn lên điều đó vẫn tồn tại trong suy nghĩ của cô ấy - Natsuki gọi xã hội là "The Factory" và cô ấy sẽ sinh con đẻ cái theo đúng như những người lớn đã trở thành, xem đó là nghĩa vụ trong xã hội.

Earthlings nói lên về những điều ta nghĩ bình thường thì hậu quả của nó lại lớn. Natsuki, Yuu và chồng của Natsuki (Tomoya) đều là những con người "khác biệt" trong xã hội, họ để cho bản thân bị những tiêu chuẩn áp đặt để có thể sống tốt hơn và để được xem như một "người bình thường". Câu chuyện dần chuyển biến, họ lại không muốn theo 'khuôn mẫu' của xã hội tạo nên, họ đoàn kết cùng nhau đi ngược lại với nó, làm những điều kinh khủng và đi ngược với luân thường đạo lý.
Việc tác giả viết về phép thuật của Natsuki làm cho mình thấy thú vị, đó không hẳn là thật, nhưng khi đọc ta mới hiểu những điều trẻ con mới có thể thấy. Thậm chí mình còn thấy được vẻ bề ngoài có thể đánh lừa con người thế nào.

Earthlings cực kì đen tối và nặng nề, dù thế nhịp truyện nhanh và lại cuốn hút mình, dù nặng nề nhưng mình vẫn bật cười ở một vài phân đoạn, và nó khiến mình đồng cảm với những suy nghĩ, áp lực của những nhân vật về xã hội này. Mọi thứ bên trong cuốn sách cực kì kinh dị và kỳ lạ sẽ ám ảnh mãi không thôi.

CW⚠️: loạn luân, xâm hại tình dục trẻ em, ăn thịt người.
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