Koji Suzuki
Edge Cover

Edge: A Novel


Koji Suzuki is best known as the author of the Ring series. Like most people, at least in the U.S., I have seen the movies but never read the books. I was looking forward to this new novel, especially since it won the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award. Jackson Award winners have been consistently high quality, literary horror tales.

I made it halfway through Edge. The low quality of the writing came as a disappointing surprise. Cliches and generalities litter the pages. Suzuki's prose, based on this one example, has much in common with the amateurish if earnest efforts of high school authors writing for their literary magazines. I have never read a Cive Cussler novel, but I imagine they read much like this. Guaranteed bestseller status can make a mediocre author lackadaisical and immune to editing. Suzuki is a bestseller in Japan if not in the States. Perhaps he now considers his novels an inconvenient first step toward its more lucrative screen adaptation.

OK, some examples: Ideas and feelings several times "flood" into a character. We are told a character died of "a disease." A city is built "right on top of" a fault line. An earthquake is caused by a "shift in an active fault." (Duh.) I opened the book at random and pulled most of these from a single page. On another page I find a character who "froze with a choked exclamation of surprise." A moment later he shoots out the door. Clumsy sentences struggle to convey a character's thoughts and emotions. "Saeko hoped she had been wrong somehow. She didn't welcome the idea that the bizarre vision she'd had might actually reflect reality."

What this novel is doing with a Shirley Jackson award baffles me. Better novels have won in the past and better novels were nominated in 2013. Perhaps this is a poor translation. More likely it is a poor translation of a badly written book.