Book Review – The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro



  •    Book: The Buried Giant
  •    Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
  •    Genre: Fantasy
  •    Year of Release: 2015
  •    Read 345-page hardcover edition in November 2015.

Book Description:

The Romans have left Britain, and the island is falling into a dreamy, disorderly state. Saxons and Britains live together, but there is something unstable about the uneasy peace on the island. In this mystical setting, elderly couple Axl and Beatrice decide to leave their home village and set off on a long-delayed journey to find their son, whom they have not seen for many years. However, as the journey occurs, they realize that in addition to the dangers of ogres, pixies, dragons, and people on the path, there is also the danger of forgotten memories and questions about their relationship, which may be uncovered when they arrive at their destination.

Book Review:

This was a fascinating and complex novel by renowned author Kazuo Ishiguro, a British author who was born in Japan and who is entering new fantasy genre territory with his first new novel in ten years. Ishiguro has done an amazing job interweaving some complex characters, settings, and plot points into a unique tale.

The principal characters of Axl and Beatrice are interesting. They have a complex past together, and the suspense of the book is to understand what that is, and explore it with them, since they are having memory issues and troubles in the story. Although sometimes this causes their dialogue with each other to become quite repetitive, that is only a minor problem, given the confusion and suspense that we feel as readers, wanting to learn more about them and their relationship. Exploring their love for each other despite learning slowly about some of the confusions and challenges of their past feels very real-life, despite the story taking place many centuries ago. Ishiguro does succeed in making us care for this confusing but loving couple.

In addition, the themes of death, decay, and darkness are explored in the book, in this old land which contains many fantastical creatures and elements. The exploration of what happens after death and how we face death are done through a central metaphor of an island, and Ishiguro does a great job providing us with thoughts on this.

The novel has a very melancholy, dark tone and feel to it. The the main characters of Axl and Beatrice, as well as the storylines and interplay with the 3 other supporting characters in the novel, all play into these themes, creating a stark picture. Ishiguro does a great job describing the scenes to us, and the novel is a fast read as the reader can feel part of the scenes and part of the action.

The journey that Axl and Beatrice go on is one that is interesting, complicated, and includes thoughtful elements of contemplation, coupled with action sequences. The conclusion of the novel is shocking and surprising, and stays with the reader for a long time afterward. When an author creates this lasting impression after the novel is done, then you know it is a novel well worth reading.

Overall: 4 stars out of 5 stars.