The Book of Heroes

The Book of Heroes

by Miyuki Miyabe

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421542881
Publisher: VIZ Media
Publication date: 11/15/2011
Series: Book of Heroes (Novel) , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 360
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Miyuki Miyabe's first novel was published in 1987, and since that time she has become one of Japan's most popular and best-selling authors. Miyabe's 2007 novel Brave Story won The Batchelder Award for best children's book in translation from the American Library Association. The Book of Heroes is her sixth novel to be translated into English.

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Book of Heroes 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
readingthruthenight on LibraryThing 25 days ago
If you've been reading my blog for quite some time, you already know that I'm not one to jump up and down for fantasy fiction. It's not that I would ever roll my eyes and refer to it as second-rate literature, which is evidently what irritates fantasy and science fiction readers the most - referring to the genre as pulp. I'm on another side of that coin entirely. Science fiction and fantasy has always seemed like the smart kinda books. Not to mention names with lots of consonants intimidate me the mostest (I bow down to you Russian Lit Lovers!)But - BUT - I'm all hanging out in the Borders a few months ago and in the young adult section I see this GORGEOUS cover. Seriously, like Alice who drank a special potion to make herself smaller or larger, I wished there was a potion that could thrust me into the cover of this book. Yeppers. I picked it up solely on cover appeal.In the most concise terms possible, here's the dealio on the story: Yuriko hears tragic news. Her beloved big brother has slain two students at his school and is now missing. Yuriko cannot believe this is possible. She loves her brother. And so does everyone else. Yuriko visits her brother's room, trying to make sense of the events or find clues. And a clue she sure did find. A talking antiquated dictionary named Aju. This leads Yuriko into a whole other realm, a quest, her own personal hero journey to find answers.Allrighty then. I finished this book yesterday and am sorta on the fence with it. Firstly, it's a translation and I have got to wonder if perhaps the parts that were slow and less riveting and more stilted had less to do with the story being poorly written and more to do with the translation not always being spot on. I don't read a lot of translated books, but understand that this does occur. There were times when I would read this book right before bed and after a couple of pages I was ready for sleep. Also, whole chapters would go by and I would worry that I would never finish the journey.But because it was Japanese there were a lot of philosophical aspects about the book that I digged immensely. Mainly, they refer to the Hero as an original story that becomes powerful each time it is experienced. (In a weird way, think of Freddy K. from Nightmare on Elm Street - he as "nightmare" is only as powerful as you make him). Secondly, which I find to be very much an eastern thought, when Yuriko is learning about the Hero, it is explained to her that Hero is two sides of one coin. The good of the hero is accompanied with the bad. Nothing is pure. I LOVE this concept. And because essentially this whole novel embodies this concept it makes me really REALLY like this book. Plus, I am a huge supporter that we are all storytellers, telling our own story. (I study narrative therapy heavily in grad school as it made the most sense). Our creation of Self, that which we externalize and internalize creates our own identity. Miyabe touches on this as well.The characters were pretty nifty as well. Yuriko, obviously being the main character and 'hero', is eleven. Miyabe does a sweet job keeping her right there at that tween age. One minute she wants to be the badass sister who saves the day while the next she is hyperventilating, throwing a tantrum, and sobbing. Sky and Aju are both Yuriko's "servants" throughout this journey; she is also accompanied by Ash. All three have distinctive voices and contribute to the energy of the story.Overall, a worthwhile read I think. I just don't know if I'd put it in the young adult section of a bookstore.
LeslitGS on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Yuriko's life has been turned upside down. She is escorted from school in the middle of the day to be with her family, where she learns that her brother has disappeared. Things get even more complicated when she learns that he was bewitched by the mysterious figure of the King in Yellow and only she, being related to the last one taken by him, can take on the role of the allcaste. Together with a dictionary she names Aju she must try to save her brother and bind the King in Yellow in isolation once more. All right folks, I'll get this out of the way right now. This book will not be for everyone. Like in Brave Story, Miyabe opens the story by ripping out your heart and stomping on it. Yuriko is an eleven year old girl who is being forced to watch as her family is hounded by press over the mysterious and bloody nature of her brother's disappearance. Then, being the only suitable candidate to exist, apparently, she has to step into a crazy world that is so wholly intangible that it will make your head spin. In short, the books opens depressingly and waxes philosophical. I would go so far as to say at least seventy five percent of the book is set up, explanation or back story. That doesn't mean it's not a good story. It is. It's just something of a push to get through, although those who can remember the tome that is Brave Story may appreciate it's apparent brevity at a mere 352 word-packed pages. The characters are interesting enough--Yuri is a touch on the young side, and accurately portrayed to include several outbursts and minor breakdowns. She starts out, in a way, more mature seeming, falls back several steps but then continues to grow as the story progresses. Her main companion, Aju, is a dictionary that is purportedly "young." I don't remember the years exactly, but they give his spunky almost teenage [without the melodrama] attitude a certain amount of viability. Their interaction is mutually supportive, especially when introduced to the man who would be their guide and, more or less, protector on the journey, Ash, or Dmitri. He is a wolf, the title given to [or quite possibly taken by] those dedicated binding the King in Yellow once more. He's older, but not specifically aged [possibly immortal or just improbably long-lifed], and tends to be gruff nine times out of ten with a few shining moments of gentle behavior toward his youthful companion. There is one final character, but he's another piece of literary device that I have yet to quite figure out. Before Yuri can go on her quest, she must visit the Nameless Land where she is met by a group of monks called the nameless devouts. They are all mirror images of the same person, young without youth and very simple. They are kind of like the Borg without the assimilatory powers--there is no time, no change, in the nameless land. If one comes they are there, part of the collective, but if one is gone, they never were. All are the same--one existence, many bodies. And out of this collective comes the final companion--a nameless devout singled out in shame by a book and sent on the journey. His being is explained slowly and surely as he becomes less and less one of the expressionless group. He is taken in [and named Sky by Yuri] to be an aid and protector, but Yuri is almost more protective of him, especially when Ash seems to take an irrational dislike to the boy. But the journey is a long one and an extremely metaphysical one--the reader is regularly called back to the fact that the world does not exist as we know it and is quite capable of falling under the power of something it helped to create. The Hero, referred to in the title, is the shining glory side of the King in Yellow who is, in turn, the shadow and flipside of the hero. Miyabe delves not only into what a "hero" is, however, but also what creates a story and a world. The reader needn't feel alone if they are baffled though, as Yuri is right alongside, picking things up as they move. All in all, it's actually a ve
abackwardsstory on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Every now and then, it's good to break away from the mold and try something different. I don't often read adult sci-fi/fantasy, but walking through the aisle one day, Miyuki Miyabe's The Book of Heroes caught my eye. The novel's concept intrigued me. Plus, it had something else going for it from the get-go: I always enjoy a good hero story.Eleven-year-old Yuriko Morisaki is an ordinary fifth-grade student until her older brother Hiroki does the unthinkable. After a bad altercation at school results in his disappearance, Yuriko embarks on a journey to save him. The most interesting thing that drew me into the story was this: the "hero" is not as good and virtuous as our society allows us to believe. Only one part is. No matter how magnificent the hero, there is always a darker side that we overlook. The hero has two sides to him, and the darker side of the coin is often referred to in the novel as the King in Yellow. It's hard to explain the concept, but for example, think about Hercules. He performed a lot of heroic deeds, but also did some pretty vile stuff that would seem more like what a villain might do. This dual look at heroism was interesting to me, especially since it's something I've been studying in order to flesh out my own characters. I love the concept that there's more to a hero than what meets the eye. Things aren't always black and white.The part of the hero that is the King in Yellow likes to wreak havoc on our world as much as the hero likes to save it. He needs vessels to break out of The Book of Heroes, where he has been imprisoned in the Nameless Land where all stories are born. Yuriko's brother Hiroki finds The Book of Elem and uses it to unknowingly become the last vessel and release the King in Yellow from imprisonment. Taking on the role of Allcaste, Yuriko finds herself faced with an impossible quest to save not only her brother, but the entire world.The Book of Heroes was really unique and refreshing. I'd never read a book quite like it before and after turning the last page, I wondered if Miyabe would write another book in her world. I also went back and re-read the poem at the novel's beginning in addition to perusing the prologue once more, which gave me an even fuller understanding of the story. I also took a more in-depth look at the cover and understood why the artist created the image they did (much as I did after finishing Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me earlier this year). It made sense in a way it wouldn't have before I started reading the book. It was also interesting to read a Japanese novel after having lived in Japan. I could visualize Yuriko's world much better than I would have had I never been there, though I don't feel the lack of knowledge would detract a reader from the story. It just made things like school life, teacher/police/parent/student/etc. responses, etc. make more sense. There were a couple of "monster" fights that were uniquely Japanese. If I hadn't seen the Hayao Miyazaki movie Spirited Away, it would have been harder to imagine black-tentacle monsters with dangling faces because I've never been one for Japanese horror/monster stuff. However, by envisioning No-Face or No-Name or whatever the character's name was, it gave me an idea of what the author was referring to. It was really interesting to see what constituted a "traditional" Japanese novel. Before Miyabe, the only other Japanese author I'd ever read was Haruki Murakami, and that was before I'd been to Japan. Back then, I just remember thinking that the Japanese have a very different outlook on life from us Westerners, and after having lived there, it definitely reaffirms that thought (albeit in a good way). If you're looking for something interesting and are open to something a little different from what you're used to, The Book of Heroes might be a good choice for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jsiah More than 1 year ago
I finished this book so fast that it lef me wanting more! Such a good story..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not quite finished with this book yet, but I'm looking forward to finishing it. The idea of the book is fun and interesting. I haven't read a story like it yet. It would make a good Japanese animated movie, like Howl's Moving Castle. Every time I pick it up to keep reading I think that I'd like it better as a movie. The flow for me is a little choppy for a book to hold my attention, but it would work as a movie. The book starts off with enough grab, but the first 75 pages or so is a little confusing because they're trying to explain who or what exactly the Hero is. The explanation makes sense once you get through it all, it's just a prolonged description/explanation. Then the story would move again and I'd get excited to find out what's going to happen next until I hit another explanation or one of the characters is enlightening U-ri. Then it slows down and I'm a bit less interested and want to move on. It's a lot of starting and stopping for me. I've been reading it for a while and I want to finish it, but I'm not in a rush to get to the ending. I say it's worth reading. I like the story enough, I think I haven't been in the right mood for this type of book. I've been reading books that are faster in pace.
Cathytaffy More than 1 year ago
This book was fun to read. It was a nicely written fantasy fiction that really pulled me into another world. I thought the writer's ideas were original and I liked her writing style, so it was easy to escape while reading. The main character was only in 5th grade, so it would also be a good book for an older child or teenager. (Great for an adult too though). The hardcover is really nice and I love how it looks. I'm glad the book was just as good as it's appearance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago