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Publisher's Summary

Nothing in Japanese literature prepares us for the stark, tension-filled, plot-driven realism of Natsuo Kirino's award-winning literary mystery Out.

This mesmerizing novel tells the story of a brutal murder in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works the night shift making boxed lunches strangles her abusive husband and then seeks the help of her coworkers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime. The coolly intelligent Masako emerges as the plot's ringleader but quickly discovers that this killing is merely the beginning, as it leads to a terrifying foray into the violent underbelly of Japanese society.

At once a masterpiece of literary suspense and pitch-black comedy of gender warfare, Out is also a moving evocation of the pressures and prejudices that drive women to extreme deeds and the friendships that bolster them in the aftermath.

©1997 Natsuo Kirino; English translation 2003 by Kodansha International Ltd. (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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  • 2 Stars
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Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Save the Gone Girl comparisons

I get that Gone Girl is sort of the "it" mystery thriller book right now but I don't think that this one could compare to it. There are some similar themes but personally I think this is a different kind of story being told.

Out is a dark and humorous tale about 4 women who end up in a very sticky situation. I loved how different the characters were and how they interacted with one and other. The author portrayed very real relationships between co workers; the superficial, the sincere and the frenemies. I also liked how messy they were as criminals. More often than not, everything seems to just fall into place, but not for this messy bunch. I really paid attention to Kuniko's character. Her reckless behavior and selfish attitude constantly changed the direction of the story. While Kuniko was the most useless member of the team, she was indirectly responsible for a lot of what happened. Her relationship with Masako reminded me of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman from breaking bad. I felt sorry for everyone involved because it seems like they could only suffer and suffer some more; no matter how much money was involved. Kirino did a good job of showing the underbelly of a characters personality. They are all terrible and selfish people yet somehow I was on their side.

This gets 4 starts instead of 5 because I hated the last chapter. I felt like the particular character involved in the last chapter made a complete 180. While I understood what the author was trying to do, it felt like she developed some sort of Stockholm syndrome.

Also I really like Emily Woo Zeller. I noticed other reviewers said she was over acting but I like that about her performances because she commits to telling the story. She bought life to the characters.

Trigger warning for rape, domestic violence, murder and dismemberment.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Out...

I saw on the website that this book was for fans of "Gone Girl", so I used a credit. Here's some thoughts for those of you wanting to know if this was worth the listen.

1. This was the first Japanese book I've ever listened to. I think actually reading the names of the characters would be a little bit easier to keep track of them. I'm not very familiar with Japanese names and had a hard time at the beginning deciphering one name from another.
2. The narration was just okay. Not great, not that bad.... just okay. Some characters were better developed and easier to listen to than others. I've never listened this narrator before and thought she was a bit heavy handed in her portrayal of the older women giving them an unpleasant whining tone to them.
3. As described in the notes for this book it has some very very "pitch-black" humor. It is also somewhat graphic for those of you with a timid stomach. I personally like this but it's definitely not for everyone.
4. I'm not sure where I get what the "Gone Girl" comparison was all about other than each of these books are classified as Suspense/Mystery/Thriller. That's about as close as it comes other than it has a female protagonist.

Overall, it wasn't bad. I don't think I'll remember this book for very long though and definitely will not be listening to this again. If you are looking for a suspense novel, I've listened to worse. I enjoyed the change of scenery for me with it taking place in Japan.

38 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

As Good As But Darker Than Gone Girl

TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape, domestic violence, underage sex.

There's a principle of Japanese flower arranging that says "to make the best arrangement, choose 1/3 as many flowers as you think you need, then choose the best 1/3 of those and use only that much."

This book does that with works and desciptions. It is both excellently written and expertly translated. It tends to sound dry at first until you realize the carefully economic use of words gives you an unusually vivid mental image of what's going on.

The plot is extremely complex with many diverse characters, lots lots of symbolism, and plot developments that are both clever and surprising but also so logical with no continuity leaps.

On the technical level: this is a world class novel.

That, however, is where my praise stops.

The characters, with only two or three possible exceptions, are horrible people. They are complex and well developed but this somehow makes their darkness more understated and thus more potent.

The host of high functioning mental illness represented is staggering and accurate and that makes it scary as hell.

In the end you hate all of them. None of them are truly innocent. None of them deserve a happy ending and the book casts doubt on the whole idea that happy endings even exist.

I left this book feeling like I had just watched a beautifully choreographed natural disaster.

Reviews compare this to Gone Girl and it is worthy of the praise. But it is even more emotionally savage and substantially darker.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great book, despite..

The narrator and the ending. I will never listen to the woman who narrated this book ever again. She is the absolute worst. High pitched, grating, annoying. Half the book she is over acting, the other half its like she's a combo of the blonde gal from 30 rock and a teacher reading to a pre-school class. The book was great despite her - although I don't know how sexual abuse victims would respond to the end of the book...?

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Long but riviting

This story was about desperation as much as it was about murder and revenge. The characters were well thought out and explained. The landscape and environment in a depresses factory town could easily be imagined.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Tim
  • United States
  • 07-14-16

Slow Page Turner

Natsuo Kirino has her own style of writing. Instead of waiting for a punch and climactic ending, "Out" is like rolling through the hills with several speed bumps alone the way. I'm not sure if it's Japanese style of storytelling or the long translation into English, but if this book was written from an American author, the story would had been a roller coaster and probably not enjoyable.

When you are reading this book, the genre is not so much as a suspense thriller, but more like a slow page turner. You really need to switch your mind to the author's pace to get into the story.

I had to stop myself at reading reviews for spoilers and get use to the pace. "Out" is not the best book that I'm read from a Japanese author, but it's comparable to "Gone Girl", but less thriller speed.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jennifer
  • Delafield, WI, United States
  • 06-27-16

Great right up until the end! Then, not so much.

I really enjoyed this story right up until the last chapter. Without giving anything away, I was so disappointed in the ending - I almost felt betrayed! The premise was so unusual and the characters were very well-developed. The story should not have ended the way it did. Give it a listen, and see if you agree with me.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jami
  • VICTOR, NY, United States
  • 04-12-17

Intricate Plot and Well Developed Characters

This was another excellent book from a Japanese author. I am not sure if this style is typical in Japanese writing, but it reminds me of another Japanese author that I really enjoy: the books are not "who-dun-its," as you know from the outside who did what. What makes these books enjoyable is the cat and mouse game between the person who committed a murder and an opposing interest; in this case, the opposing interest is someone wrongfully accused of the murder.

This book is a fascinating story of four women who met working the night shift. I loved the descriptions of Japanese culture, particularly how women are viewed in the workplace. The characters are well developed and there are several twists that keep the plot moving. I like how the book is told from different perspectives, and it is done in a way that is not confusing. There are many graphic scenes, yet these scenes only add to the plot tension; they are not gratuitous graphic descriptions, but rather, are integral to the story. The plot is complex and intricate, and I enjoyed how everything interrelated. I don't want to say too much, as it gives everything away.

I listened to this on audio and the narration was excellent. I sometimes find with longer books that my attention wanders and I am ready for it to end, but despite the length of this book, it kept my interest for the entire time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Terrifying!

End of your seat listening! Like something terrifying around every corner, an end you never saw coming!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Cool, chilling story. Not for the faint of heart

Solid psychological thriller and super creepy. I lived in Japan for a while so there may be details that go over the heads of those not familiar with the areas described but still a good read for everyone who wants to be creeped out

2 of 2 people found this review helpful