Side-By-Side Dreamers

By Iori Miyazawa. Released in Japan by Hayakawa Publishing. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

As with another Hayakawa title released last year, Last and First Idol, I’d say that this book might be more rewarding for those who are looking for a really good science fiction book rather than those who are looking for yuri. It’s there – the two leads gradually realize their love, and there are hints of another couple (that never go past that), but I suspect anyone buying this wanting, say, Madoka Magica or the like are going to be disappointed. That said, I greatly enjoyed it as a science fiction story, and would recommend it to anyone looking for something a bit different from the standard light novel. (Being a Hayakawa title, this is a straight novel, with only one illustration of the cast, and no interior pictures.) That said, if you worry about getting too much sleep, or not enough, this book’s themes and imagery are probably not going to quiell any fears – your lack of sleep may secretly be destroying the world. Sweet dreams.

Our main heroine, Saya, has been suffering from abysmal insomnia for the past few months, and it’s destroyed most of her school and social life. One day, while staggering to the nurse’s office to lie down and not sleep, she runs into Hitsuji, another girl in her school who has no trouble sleeping at all – she can drop off anywhere, and in fact the rest of the people around her might sleep too. Saya finds herself lying next to the girl and for once, actually sleeping… which leads to her dreaming of a world where she and Hitsuji are lovers who are fighting creatures called Suiju. As it turns out, Hitsuji and some other girls are Sleepwalkers, who have the power to hunt those creatures in dreams. Which is important, as the creatures seem to be trying to break out into the real world… and if they do that, the real world won’t stay that way. Can Saya, whose insomnia can be weaponized, help? Or will she make things worse? And can she and Hitsuji acknowledge their feelings outside of dreams?

There is some fantastic and imaginative dream imagery in this book, as it shows the way that dreams can drift from one thing to another and often have their own bent sort of logic. It can be hard to even realize that you’re not dreaming – particularly for Saya, who tends to get caught up in her dreams a bit too much. The Suiju at first just seem like standard easy-to-kill monsters, but as the book goes on it becomes clear that they’re pulling the girls into a trap, and the dreams become a lot more like nightmares. The last third of the book or so has the reader (and the characters) trying to figure out whether they’re awake or asleep. I will note, though, that the ending to the book is very abrupt – VERY abrupt. I think it works all right, but it does feel a bit like the author wanted to be a bit arty and mysterious, and this was the best way to do it. Things are resolved? Maybe?

As I said, as a yuri title this is cute but not much else. As a science fiction book, though, it was great fun to read. I hope we can get more Hayakawa titles in the future.

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