Published: 18 May 2021
Genres: Romance, Young Adult Fiction, Bildungsroman*, Contemporary fiction, Comedy
* Bildungsroman is a coming-of-age story
Available as: Hardcover, Audiobook
As an audiobook, Tokyo Ever After consists of 46 tracks narrated by Ali Ahn with a total length of 9 hours and 33 minutes. First book of the Tokyo Ever After series, the story begins with a report from a newspaper about an unnamed princess. Juxtaposed between each news article, Izumi struggles with the “cultural punches” of beauty standards, not knowing her father, and being a unilingual Pan-Asian. When her friend Nora accidentally stumbles across a scrapbook with a name, Izumi has to decide whether she wants to learn more about her father, her father’s family, and herself.
“You have the born-a-different-race-in-America existentialist dilemma” – Nora
This book reminds me of a mix of Princess Diaries and Crazy Rich Asians. I would recommend this text to young adults who enjoyed any of the above series, enjoy the rags-to-riches trope, and stories with protagonists of colour navigating their world and creating their own identity. While the rags-to-riches trope is nostalgic, I appreciated that this text emphasized that responsibility of the role compared to Princess Diaries. I also appreciated that the text included explanations for some of the Japanese words being used so that I, as the reader, felt I was learning alongside the main character. The quote above is from the climax of the story where the best friend, Nora, encourages Izumi to take any steps to get out of her mental health crisis. It also recognizes and provides a glimpse into the struggle that people with multicultural backgrounds can experience throughout their lives. Two elements of the audiobook or text in general that I both like and dislike are the romance and the narration. The romantic elements made me laugh because the pickup lines that were delivered were quirky which made me like the male lead, Akio. However, the romance moments were also so sudden that I was left wondering how the romance suddenly developed and if I missed something while listening. Ali Ahn does a great job of narrating and differentiating the female characters. However, for the more serious male characters in Japan, they slightly sound like robots. While this may have been an intentional choice to represent their seriousness for sticking to rules and schedules, it did become difficult to differentiate between which character was speaking. While this text was quite enjoyable, I am unsure if I would continue the series since not much was left to the imagination by the end.
Overall Rating: 🌕🌕🌕
3 – The friendships remind me of the song My Girlfriends are my Boyfriend by Demi Lovato
Ending: 🌕🌕🌗- 2.5/5
Plot: 🌕🌕🌕 – 3/5
World-building: 🌕🌕🌕- 3/5
Characters: 🌕🌕🌕🌗- 3.5/5
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