Published: December 18th 2007, Vertical
Pages: 239 pages, paperback
Series?: Nope, standalone - though a sequel would be awesome just for the ick factor
Acquired: Purchased myself
Summary (from Goodreads): In the tradition of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, here is a new classic about the bridge who's no longer sure what to think. All families have their own rituals, secrets and credos, like a miniature religious cult; these quirks may elicit the mirth or mild alarm of guests, but the matter is rather more serious if you're marrying into a household. If it's a Japanese one with a history, then brace yourself: some surprising truths lurk around the corner.
The Shitos: eight people, four generations, one household, with young newlywed Noriko joining the clan to make nine. Her husand Kazuhito adores her to disctraction and her in-laws seem to be the most good-natured people imaginable. The family owns a thriving business and lives on a sprawling estate in the suburbs of Tokyo where they've created a floral paradise. Once a series of strange events and inconsistencies trigger Noriko's suspicions, however, reality becomes inseparable from her own darkest imaginings.
My review: Let me start by saying that everything you need to know about Now You're One of Us is perfectly conveyed on the cover. Really, this has to be my favourite cover of all time. I bought the book knowing absolutely nothing about the story but I knew it was going to be great with that cover. Just...so...icky. Pube in the soap!
I suppose I should also preface this review by saying that if you're uptight about, well, pretty much anything then Now You're One of Us probably isn't for you. I'm about as relaxed as they come and it had me raising my eyebrows. A quick flick through the reviews on Goodreads shows this one wasn't a hit with a lot of readers and it's clear a lot of people found it shocking. Yes, there are some shocking moments but they're not the biggest part of this book. It's a fantastic, gothic family saga-cum-horror and I loved it.
Noriko is such a brilliant lead. I felt everything she felt - when she was beginning to feel a little creeped out by her new family, I was too, when she felt guilty for insulting them after they were so sweet and treated her so well, I completely got it. She's great. She isn't one of those delicate heroines who is too scared to say her piece - while she tries to be polite at all times, Noriko isn't afraid to have a little tiff now and then and her wild outbursts at various family members were so well written.
From page one there's an unsettling tone and it doesn't dip as the novel progresses. In fact, it grows and grows until the last quarter of the story - where everything goes straight to crazy town. Seriously, bat shit crazy. I did finish reading with a certain feeling of 'wtaf?' (the 'a' is for actual, by the way - which means things got seriously weird) but I loved it. It was awesome - something I read purely for enjoyment (for a while I wasn't going to review it).
I would absolutely love to see a well-made movie version but equally, I think a badly made version would probably made me throw up - I can see it now. Ew.
As I said earlier on, if you have any sort of inhibitions then this book probably isn't for you but if creepy is your thing and the thought of pubes on soap piques your interest then definitely check out Now You're One of Us. It's evil and brilliant in equal measure.
First line: 'The rain, which had been battering the roof all night, seemed to have let up at dawn.'
Cover: 5/5 (best cover EVER)
Total: 16/20 (B+)