Sixteen-year-old Kara Foster is an outsider in Japan, but is doing her best to fit at the private school where her father is teaching English for the year. Fortunately she’s befriended by Sakura, a fellow outsider struggling to make sense of her sister’s unsolved murder some months ago. No one seems to care about the beautiful girl who was so brutally murdered, and the other students go on as if nothing has happened. Unfortunately, the calm doesn’t last for long. Kara begins to have nightmares, and soon other students in the school turn up dead, viciously attacked by someone . . . or something. Is Sakura getting back at those she thinks are responsible for her sister’s death? Or has her dead sister come back to take revenge for herself?
Kara’s mother has just died and her father takes a post in Japan as an English teacher. She is fluent enough in Japanese, that the language is not much of a barrier, but the understandings of their local legends becomes one. Upon arriving to her new school Kara discovers a girl has been murdered, and nobody has been captured. She is referred to as “Bonsai‘- Loosely translated as being cut away and moved from her home, no roots to grow on. She is not laving luck making a lot of new friends, but there are some that feel that she belongs and she begins to settle in. There is still some taunting and rudeness from the other kids, and then the bad dreams come. And she is not the only one experiencing them. Then students begin to die. Is there a killer loose at the Monju-no-chie School and will the nightmares stop?
Every time I had to set it down, I thought ‘What is going to happen next?’ I was very happy to find that there were no slow parts in the story. It moves along at a great pace and there are plenty of scary happenings. The dream scenes will give you goose bumps and make your heart beat a little faster. Kara is an intelligent character and does not back away from her other schoolmates when she needs to. She is also curious, which brings an element of detective work and problem solving.
The author spells out the Japanese words to help readers pronounce them. This book includes great supporting characters, but my favourite character is the main one, Kara. She is so down-to-earth and easy to relate to, but I also found Sakura very entertaining. Most of the kids at the school are having the same bad dreams, and seeing or hearing the same cat, and then the cherry blossom smell appears. These are awesome scene set-ups that make you ask, ‘Is it time for somebody else to die? Are these the signs of death?’
This story will keep you on the edge of your seat. I was ecstatic to see that there will be two more books for The Waking series. I loved this book. I recommend it to those who like the movie The Ring or The Grudge. It’s a fantastic read for when you want something creepy, as well as a new international setting.