Outside of Tokyo lies Aokigahara Jukai – the sea of trees – where over 100 bodies a year are recovered by the Japanese Police. Jeremy Bates kicks off his World’s Scariest Places series with this very real location in Suicide Forest.
Americans Ethan and Mel are living in Japan teaching English as a second language. Over a long weekend they decide to climb Mount Fuji with their friends – fellow teacher, Neil; Japanese man, Tomo; and Mel’s friend, John Scott. After bad weather delays their climb, they join up with tourists Ben and Nina, and decide to check out the nearby ‘Suicide Forest’, hoping to find a dead body. They get a lot more then they bargained for, and when the members of their group start killing themselves, the question is – will any of them leave Aokigahara Jukai alive?
Written in first person, past tense, from Ethan’s point of view, a lot of the novel involves introducing the characters, setting up their histories and group dynamics, and describing how unpleasant it is to get lost in a forest. When the action finally starts, it is intriguing, if a little surprising, and clips along at a fast pace.
I’ve read several of the later books in this series, and enjoyed them, so it was interesting to read the book that started it all. Each book in the series is set in a different real world location, and each book is a stand alone tale.
I enjoyed the descriptions of life in Japan in Suicide Forest, and I felt the characters were realistic. I particularly liked Tomo, with his love for swearing in English and his cavalier attitude. Some of the behaviour of the characters annoyed me, and I would have preferred if the action at the end had started a bit sooner.
I award Suicide Forest…
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