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"A haunting book as much about the creative process as it is about the characters."
"An offbeat tale—dark but playful."
Posted August 30, 2013
Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable is an imaginative novel. This is the debut novel for a very promising new writer.
Tomomi “Butterfly” Ishikawa committed suicide but left her best friend, Benjamin Constable, a trail of clues which lead him from Paris to New York and back – the cities she called “home”. Ben is searching for journals and notes left specifically for him.
Ben goes on his quest which gets stranger with each new finding. With his imaginary cat and a girl which helps him around the unfamiliar territories in New York, Ben discovers new aspects of his friend which he never imagined.
Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable is an imaginative and somewhat interesting novel. I loved the way it was written, with a slight of hand and a healthy sense of humor, but as the story progressed it started to fall a bit flat.
The one enigma which is constant throughout the book and in between the lines is the relationship between Tomomi Ishikawa and Benjamin Constable. That relationship is confusing to say the least because there is one real relationship and two imaginary ones: the real relationship and the fictional his to hers and hers to his. While I think it was a great premise and something that would certainly be applicable to real life, the relationship between the characters and between the relationships themselves was never really explored.
As much as I try I cannot characterize this book, I admire Mr. Constable for writing a novel which defies a genre. I think that part of the enjoyment of this book is that it defies normal conventions – it’s part mystery, part thriller, part comedy, part tragedy, a psychological thriller and a love story all mixed in together.
It seems that Mr. Constable has put much work and thought into this book and had either very good advice or read his own story as if he is reading someone else’s work. The narrator (Mr. Constable himself) is always a step ahead of the reader narrating this quirky story with a wink and a smile.
The novel is a fascinating read, if only for the literary strolls through New York City and Paris, the characters are interesting as well as a story which has several angles all told by the same narrator. Not all plot points are neatly tied up in this book, much like real life, even the ending is ambiguous but in my opinion, the ending didn’t really matter.
Disclaimer: I got this book for free
Posted July 15, 2013
THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :
This is an odd little book. One of those that starts out feeling contrived and suddenly sinks its teeth in you and won't let go. It simply "grows on you." I confess I didn't like it to begin with, but the more I decided to give it a chance, the more I liked it.
The author has a way of causing his characters to become endearing as you read the quandary of Ben to find Butterfly's clues to her mysterious self and the "task" she's set him. Ben is immediately captivating. He's the proverbial innocent boy-next-door who needs someone to shake up his life; and, Butterfly seems the perfect, quirky girl to do just that.
What I also really loved about the book was the details about Paris...some odd little tidbits. And I liked the glimpses into the computer and journal life of Butterfly as she led Ben on and left her "clues." New York looked pretty awesome in this author's eyes, as well!
This isn't a book for everyone. I'd say it's rather a quest into something unusual and a taste of something a little sweet 'n sour off the shelves. I loved it, but it may not be for everyone's tastes.
One of those books you have to sit back and let take you on a serendipitous trip...
4 stars Deborah/TheBookishDame
Posted June 17, 2013
There's a lot of quirkiness in this book. The main character, Ben, is named after the author. At one point, Ben has this odd fixation with having "the dead on his shoes" after visiting Ground Zero. There's a non-talking, but quite communicative, imaginary cat who appears throughout. Then there's an unusual friendship with Tomomi Ishikawa, who has a deeply tragic past, and puts Ben on a twisted sort of scavenger hunt all over Paris and New York.
Right around the time I started to wonder "why is Ben continuing on with this game?" or "okay, I think things are about to slow" a character would answer my question, or the author would change direction. The author certainly has the mind of a reader, and at times it felt like he was in my head.
Constable writes with a lot of attention to detail, especially the use of language. I enjoyed the more realistic portrayal of communicating in a non-native language, and the awkwardness that can result. The dialogue always felt very real, very natural, like overhearing a conversation. And Constable writes some amazing sentences! My favorite: "Now the room was empty and the hushed sound of a hundred people reading dissolved into a quieter silence."
This book was an adventure, to be sure. But I was left feeling sort of... toyed with. Ben would say these random, mundane things and I'd think, "What?! Is this going to be important? Will this have a deeper meaning?" I was on pins and needles so much of the time, but I'm not sure where it led. A few times I got downright angry, and toward the end I felt there were almost too many twists. When I finished, I was left with a kind of surreal, what-just-happened? feeling. And I'm not sure if I'm ticked off by it, or completely and utterly delighted!
Discussion questions for Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa are included at the end of the book, as well as a few "Enhance Your Book Club" ideas.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.
Posted June 12, 2013
This was one of those books that you remember.
For the sublime quality of the actual plot. Perhaps for the quirkyness of the characters. Possibly just for the feeling you get at the end when you realize you have read something quite extraordinary.
The dream of many a bookworm and author, that one book you go back to over and over again. If you're very lucky it will happen with many books, but not everyone has the pleasure of discovering the work of scribes that stay embedded in the depths of your mind.
I can't even tell you exactly why this book is one of those for me.
I also can't tell you whether it will be that way for you.
Towards the end I found myself rushing forwards in thought to the ending I was sure would come, then having to backtrack when it didn't.
To relay any details at all would spoil the twists and turns that are plotted with an almost devious mind-set, so I won't.
What I will say is that it was both playful in its darkness and vast in its depth.
Truly a joy to read.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.
Posted June 10, 2013
Ben Constable, loves his drinking buddy, there share many great nights, and times in Paris, until one day when he comes home to find a note from Butterfly that he never expected, and it sends him on an adventure to find out about her life and all the things that happened to her. very intriguing and very dynamic story that brings to life many aspects of creativity, love, and memory. There is a secret tour of New York its people, history, and places.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2013
This is a book different from any one you may have read before. Suicide, a quest, a strange friendship, all these intertwine into a curiously compelling story. Ben Constable and Tomomi Ishikawa are friends. They enjoy hanging out together, talking, but just friends. Then one day Tomomi slides a note under Ben's door. A strange blend of a suicide note and the beginnings of a treasure hunt. Follow along with Ben as he mourns his friend and finally decides to follow the clues to see where they lead, and maybe figure out why his friend killed herself. From Paris to New York and back again, Ben follows the clues, but begins to suspect that things are not what they seem. I won't spoil the end but you certainly aren't expecting it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 2, 2013
What I liked about the novel: There is no putting this book down. You open the first page and you're confused. You read more and you're still confused, but now curious. By the time you get to the premise of the novel, you realize the next several hours will be lost to these chapters. I like the humor between the lines, and the dark in the character's minds, and the light in their intentions. I like Benjamin Constable the character and I even enjoy Tomomi Ishikawa. In fact, it is Tomomi Ishikawa who makes you read more. Just like Ben, you are flipping page after page, following along in this scavenger hunt through Paris and NYC, and you're flippin' tired, but you have to see how it ends.
What I didn't like about the novel: There is no putting this book down. Tomomi Ishikawa is an addiction, and you are sucked into her gruesome life along with Ben. By the closure of the book you are clawing for resolution. (I guess I should go back up and add under the "likes" that Benjamin Constable the writer does not disappoint when it comes to resolution). The only real negative thing I have to say is that every setting in books feels foreign to me, whether I know the place or not, and I don't know the streets of Paris or NYC to relate. So here I admit, I skimmed the directions and locations quite a bit because I couldn't place them and they belong to people who know them. For me, they remain confusing and maze-like and served their purpose for getting lost with Ben.
Would I recommend the novel: Yes, abso-friggin-lutely.You're a moron if you don't read this novel, and I will not-so-silently judge you if you don't love the book as much as I do. I have never read a book quite like this -- as frustrating, as honest, as thought-provoking. Maybe it has been done before, but I've never found one, making it the only one like it in the world to me. It is exquisite, and exciting, and several other adjectives starting in "ex". It leaves you thinking about life and your perspective of it against someone else's. It creates the imprint that you and I, mostly me, know nothing while knowing a lot, and what is real versus what is perceived real is indeterminable. And there's more, there's just few words for more and Mr. Constable the writer is much better at them. What I'm trying to say is: Buy the freakin' book.