It’s the vacation of a lifetime, a trip to a remote island filled with geniuses–and murder.
On Wet Crow’s Feather Island, a tiny speck in the Sea of Japan, lives Akagami Iria, the exiled daughter of a powerful family. Born into great wealth, she was a princess of the highest pedigree–until she was cut off by the leader of the Akagami Foundation. For the last five years, she’s lived on Feather Island with her maids. But she hasn’t been alone. She has invited the best minds Japan has to offer to come and stay with her.
And so nineteen-year-old college student Ii-chan and his best friend, computer genius Kunagisa Tomo, find themselves as Iria’s guests at her elaborate mansion. Surrounded by fascinating women–a chef, a fortune-teller, a scholar, and an artist, not to mention his own friend Tomo–Ii-chan is feeling a little overmatched intellectually. But the sudden discovery of a grisly murder sends the island into shock. And Ii-chan discovers that he does possess a bit of genius: the ability to discover what is real and what is fake . . . who is who they claim to be–and who is a killer.
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Grade 8 Up—Written by a manga-novel author, Zaregoto uses a manga style in the format of a novel. Ii, a 19-year-old college student, accompanies his friend Kunagisa Tomo, a computer engineering genius, to Wet Crow's Feather Island, home of wealthy exile Akagami Iria, who surrounds herself with the best and the brightest. The island's other guests include a painter, a fortune-teller, a chef, and an all-purpose genius, as well as live-in maids and other caretakers. The geniuses bicker regularly and immerse themselves in expressing their mutual hatred for each other. On the third evening of Ii's visit, a powerful earthquake draws the tense discussion short. Ii and Kunagisa discover Ibuki Kanami, the painter, beheaded in her studio. Akagami Iria takes control of the murder investigation, refusing to call the police, and rumor surfaces that this crime is far from the first, and could very well not be the last. Zaregoto reads like a combination of Fantasy Island and Clue, and as it continues, readers can't help but wonder if Akagami Iria has set up this dangerous game as a way to entertain herself in her exile. With no graphics to rely on, the story suffers from an overwhelming amount of dialogue but still offers a challenging mystery that will keep readers guessing. Libraries with manga fans craving something beyond the typical graphic novel and Japanophiles searching for something new should consider this for purchase, as well as Hiroshi Ishizaki's Chain Mail: Addicted to You (Tokyopop, 2007).—Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA
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