Book Tour & Review: Return to Hiroshima by Bob van Laerhoven


Before I begin, thank you to the author and Blackthorn Book Tours for giving me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis. Fate brings a number of people together in Hiroshima in a confrontation with dramatic consequences.

Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to the city, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister. Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima’s war history. A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane.

And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will “overturn Japan’s foundations”…. 

Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel. Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII become unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and the Japanese society as a whole.

Title: Return to Hiroshima
Author: Bob can Laerhoven
Page Count: 352
Genre: Mystery
Rating: Bizarre, Nonsensical, Bit of a slow read for me.

Drug Induced?

There is a “genre” of book out there where the whole story seems as though it is written by someone high on some drugs. Its fast paced, the characters seem unimaginable, and the story is wildly blown out of proportion and nowhere near as big of a deal as the story makes you believe.

I have no idea what that style of book is called, but Return to Hiroshima is a book that fits perfectly into that ideal.

It isn’t a bad story, but it’s filled with winding stories and extra information that doesn’t add to the story in any way. There’s a few character’s stories that don’t end up getting explained and you leave feeling confused more than satisfied.

There were moments where clarity seemed to take over, but they’d be quickly taken over by relationships that don’t make sense or some character development that makes even less sense.

Characters Seem Make Believe

We get introduced to a handful of characters throughout the book. Some seem so fake, they can’t be a part of a real world, and others seem so bland that they are left uninteresting.

The story revolves around a conspiracy theory type mystery, which would have been an interesting spy story or mystery story even, if the characters were different.

There were so few characters that seemed relatable enough (even in the tiniest way) to make the story enjoyable. Almost every single character had some bizarre trait or characteristic, or just their nature that made them unenjoyable.

Still, that didn’t make the story unenjoyable, just harder to enjoy. At the end of the day I did like the book, but I would say the characters were one of the weakest aspects of the story.

The End You Didn’t Want

Most stories end when they tie up all the loose ends. Some stories end leaving you wanting that explanation, but instead you have to imagine what happened to the characters.

Return to Hiroshima goes for the second approach. It gives you the ending to some aspects of the story, while it leaves other aspects open to interpretation.

We are left with two explanations of a character, but we are never given which one is the truth and which is not.

Both seem to be an interesting take on the character, but it would dramatically change how we see the endings to other characters. I don’t think it was written well, but it was interesting pondering which version of the character’s story was true and which was not.

Final Thoughts

I can’t say there was a whole lot I enjoyed about Return to Hiroshima. The characters were the biggest weakness to the story in my opinion, but their interactions with each other were believable and didn’t seem forced.

If you enjoy the wild, seemingly drug induced stories that seem to go by a mile a minute, you will probably enjoy this book.

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