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Chain Mail: Addicted to You    by Hiroshi Ishizaki order for
Chain Mail
by Hiroshi Ishizaki
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Hiroshi Ishizaki's Chain Mail: Addicted to You is the first book that I have come across in Tokyopop's new Pop Fiction line that does not appear to be aimed at their current fan base of manga readers. This makes me worry that many readers will miss out on this addicting suspense novel because it will get tucked in amongst the shelves and shelves of manga (where I have noticed many retailers shelving Tokyopop's fiction books) instead of on the Young Adult shelves where it would reach a wider audience.

Chain Mail tells the story of three Tokyo junior high school girls who meet each other through an email from a fourth girl, joining them to help write an online story. The story is a suspense thriller about a teenaged girl being stalked by a guy she met in a park. Everything is fun at first, but soon, real life events begin to mirror what is happening in their fictional world. What follows is a tight, intensive narrative of how the girls come to realize that their game is no longer fun for one of them.

Ishizaki does an amazing job of creating teenage characters to whom readers can relate, and this is no easy task as Chain Mail effectively follows not only the three girls in the novel, but also the four characters in their online story. While American readers may not be able to fully comprehend some of the cultural aspects of the characters (i.e. the pressure to get into a good junior high, the long commutes to and from school and other activities, the beverages the characters enjoy, etc.), they will be able to empathize with the girls' feelings and thought processes. Ishizaki balances the girls' everyday lives with the suspense of their online story and then expertly segues that suspense into their everyday lives.

Chain Mail: Addicted to You is highly addicting as the reader will not want to put the book down, much in the same way that the characters cannot stop checking the message board for additions to the story. This is a good starting place for anyone who has been thinking of trying a Japanese suspense novel, especially since Hiroshi Ishizaki seems to have a firm grasp on Western mysteries, making Chain Mail more readable to a Japanese literature novice than other translated novels.

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