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Escape from Amsterdam by Barrie Sherwood

Escape from Amsterdam

by Barrie Sherwood

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5410325,767 (3.03)2



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Escape from Amsterdam is a fast paced coming of age. It’s incredibly enjoyable. Sure there is nothing particularly sympathetic about a man with a large gambling debt trying to rescue (or kidnap) his high class hooker of a sister but it makes for an interesting story.

The novel deals rather entertainingly with the difference between real and fake. Aozora’s quest for someone who he finds exactly like his ex, sex dolls, and what constitutes ‘real’ Japan all come into question. And the random yet valuable friendships Aozora makes gives us a glimpse into other lives and –if you are feeling optimistic- how your fellow men are willing to help out.

Richly intertextual, Aozora is presented as a modern day hero. He knows exactly what a hero is, how they are supposed to act, and falls incredibly short. Coupled with mobile phone snapshots, doodles and manga you won’t forget that this is a thoroughly modern novel. However, the themes of growing up, surviving you first love and first death are classics. Aozora’s coming of age is an old story, told in a brilliant way. ( )
  Staramber | Aug 3, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Aozara Fujiwara, a mediocre student at the University of Kyota, has been playing a little too much mah-jongg in his spare time and finds himslef in considerble debt to a gangster named Uno.

Luckily Auntie Okane has left Aozora and sister Mai an inheritance with the condition that both brother and sister need to be present to accept the inheritance.However sister Mai has disappeared from opera school.

The story is one of locating sister Mai who is working as a high class call girl in a theme park called Amsterdam. Gondo, a yakuza boss forbids her to leave.

This is a rollicking, engaging, light-hearted novel exposing the reader to a non-traditional side of Japanese culture. I look forward to future books by this engaging author. ( )
  Alsek | Jul 26, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Amsterdam in question in this book is a Japanese theme park, not the backpackers' landmark known for its citizens' liberal lifestyle. Amsterdam (the theme park) offers a homogenized version of the original; tourists can enjoy boat rides and bland, Western food. However, like its namesake, it has a seedy undercurrent that belies its homogenized facade.

This is where the bulk of the action in Escape from Amsterdam takes place. Aozora, our antihero, is a university student in Kyoto who has been dumped by his lady for a job in a ski resort. Due to his increasing indifference to school and life in general, he whiles away his hours playing mah-jong, and it's not long before he finds himself mired in debt to some local gangsters. After his friend gets beat up for his outstanding debts, Aozora is informed that he and his sister, Mai, are due to inherit a pricey art collection. The catch is, his sister has been missing for weeks.

Read the full review here. ( )
  bastardmoon | Sep 6, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My 1st Review.

I find myself torn after reading this book. I do love Japanese culture and a good thriller. I am both elated and disappointed with this book. If you were hoping for something like Michael Crichton's "Rising Sun", keep looking. This is more of an adaptation of a screenplay of a Anime movie you don't quite understand, yet can't pull yourself away from. The story is basically about a young man; "Aozora" who finds himself on a mission to save his sister; "Mai" at a fantastical amusement park; "Amsterdam" while bearing the burden of his endebtedness to gangsters. Although there are a few colourful and interesting characters in the story, "Aozora" personifies the self-centered, shallow, socially detactched, self-loathing youth of today that you'll find yourself compelled to want to smack upside his head a la Leroy Jethro Gibbs [N.C.I.S.]. At times WAY too detailed, and at other times quite whimsical, "Escape From Amsterdam" is, in a word, convoluted. I did very much enjoy the many manga illustrations & photos the book offered. Perhaps if Sherwood expanded upon those and didn't get so bogged down in the details, it would have been a better book. I believe this would have been exceptional if it were completely illustrated and contained not a word of text. A part of me loved this book, but a bigger part of me is suffering the bitter aftertaste of a first draft. ( )
  DJS316180 | Jun 29, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you’re looking for a detailed description of a Japan you couldn’t imagine or wouldn’t believe, this is a great book. If you’re looking for a plot or even one likeable character, stay far far away.

This story of an odyssey by a Japanese student to find his sister (who is potentially in danger—but is really in a whacky servitude) left me feeling bogged down in detail. The main character, Aozora is beyond unlikeable. He is so unconcerned with his mission (until the last few pages) that I don’t care either. It feels like the loss of anyone, except a monkey feeding do-gooder that appears toward the end, and the father, would be no great loss to the universe.

The rest of the characters were more than one dimensional, they seemed to be the same person showing up in different jobs. They, as well as their roles in this book felt ridiculous.

The detail was compelling, the description sublime, but it was far too much of a good thing. By the end, I wanted to read only the dialogue.

The Manga and photographs scattered throughout felt like not enough to really work, and yet left me with more of a clear picture than the over-detailed descriptions. I admit to being wholly unfamiliar with Manga and I would like to have seen more of it.

It’s possible that it’s only me, but I couldn’t recommend this book. ( )
  kshaffar | Jun 20, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312380402, Hardcover)

Aozora---idle university student, future crooked bureaucrat, fresh broken heart---has been playing too much mah-jongg and now finds himself deep in debt. When Auntie Okane dies and leaves him and his sister Mai a priceless inheritance, he thinks his problems are solved. But they’re only just beginning.

            Mai’s disappeared, taken hostage by a notorious yakuza gang. Aozora can’t collect the cash without her and his loan sharks are becoming impatient. So begins a fast-paced adventure that takes him to the deep south of Japan and the surreal environs of a Dutch theme park called Amsterdam. It sounds like a holiday, but Aozora is about to enter the real world. . . .

            Featuring the Japanese mob, motorcycle gangs, a phony princess, topiary dinosaurs, high-tech love dolls, and a selection of Japanese manga, Escape from Amsterdam is playful, offbeat, and thrilling. It paints a surprising portrait of contemporary Japan that few Westerners have seen and introduces a strikingly original and inventive writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:15 -0400)

"Aozora - idle university student, future crooked bureaucrat, fresh broken heart - has been playing too much mah-jong and now he's deep in debt. When Auntie Okane dies and leaves him and his sister Mai a priceless inheritance, he thinks his problems are solved." "But they're only just beginning. Mai's disappeared and he can't get the cash without her. So begins a fast-paced adventure that takes Aozora to the deep south of Japan and the surreal environs of a Dutch theme park called Amsterdam. It sounds like a holiday, but Aozora is about to enter the real world. Escape from Amsterdam paints an unsettling portrait of contemporary Japan."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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