30 August 2012

Big in Japan

By Jennifer Griffith

Synopsis: (hijacked from Amazon)
Buck Cooper is Texan, obese, and invisible to his colleagues. And to the voluptuous Allison Turner, the girl of his dreams, he is way below parr. Buck's entire life is about fitting in, a feat he's been struggling to achieve but has never succeeded. Until serendipity lands him in Japan. Right in the middle of a sumo match. As his life takes a new turn in a country where being big can mean fame and fortune, Buck must embark on the most dangerous, yet adventurous ride of his life-to find the ultimate meaning of love and acceptance. Even if it means risking his life and giving up everything he has.

This book was just put out by Jolly Fish Press, the publisher that bought my book, New Sight.  So I thought I would be supportive and read something that didn’t involve wizards, flying animals, dirigibles or laser blasts.

Why did I read this book again?

I read the synopsis online and thought, “Okay, sure, I can read that.”  I’ve always wanted to more about Japan, and I love watching sports.  Plus, I study Kempo and I wondered what in the world Sumo is all about.

5 out of 5


I liked the spread of characters.  Buck, the protagonist, has a great voice and I personally loved the geeky references he slipped in.  His two Sumo friends are awesome, providing a few moments of insight but also some much needed relief from the hell that is apparently Sumo training life.

It felt like there may have been a few too many characters sprinkled around who just made bit appearances, but I didn’t notice when I was reading, just now that I’m thinking about it.

4 out of 5

Did I care what happened?

Yes.  I read this book pretty fast, which is a good indicator that I wanted to know what happened.  Buck us a nice guy—really nice—and I was always pulling for him and the other characters in the book.

This is just coming from a martial artists point of view, but I wanted more Sumo in a book that was about Sumo.  Never once did I feel like my legs were going to fall off after poor Buck had to do like a million of those squat whatever things (my knees weep to think of it) and although I know more about Sumo now than I did last week, I still don’t know much.  The story focused on the characters and the relationships, which is good, but my fighters mind wanted more in this area.  I might be the only one in the world…

3 out of 5

Plot Holes

Nothing that I remember.  If anything, the plot felt a little bit contrived and obvious.   I knew the man from the beginning was someone important and wasn’t at all surprised when he came back near the end.  Things like that made it very predictable, but that didn’t stop me from reading fast to get to the end.

4 out of 5

How many times did I yawn?

No yawning .  Even though there wasn’t nearly as much action as I’d hoped for (so I’m an action junkie, so what?) the story didn’t drag.  Pace was good and I enjoyed it.

4 out of 5

Cool Factor

Never having been to Japan, I was excited to “see” Japan through the eyes of this guy from Texas.  The author did give us some of this in the beginning, but then not much after that.  And as I said before, more Sumo! But what there was if it was great. I had no idea that vending machines were so versatile, and never wanted to believe that they actually shove people into the subway trains.  Literally—shoving.  Yikes.

4 out of 5

The End

I liked the first ending of the book.  The second ending felt drawn out a bit.  But I’m not good at torturing characters over matters of the heart, so maybe I’m not the one to ask here. It felt either way to short or extraneous.  But that certainly won’t stop me from telling people to read this book.   Because seriously, it could just be me.

3 out of 5

Overall Enjoyment

This poor book got the distinction of being the first thing I read after I finished a round of edits on my own manuscript and sent them off. Less than 24 hours.  So through the beginning chapters my mind kept pointing out things I would change.  Bad internal editor, bad!

My point is that my comments may be a bit on the overly edited side. I thought this book was great.  I don’t much get into contemporary fiction, and was skeptical about this one, but liked it and would recommend it if you like a little action mixed with a little romance mixed with some very strange Japanese customs mixed with some humor from Buck and his gang.

4 out of 5

Score= 31

That’s a Brown Belt!

1 comment:

Antiquarian said...

Oh yes you can get anything in a vending machine in Japan. And yes they shove you in the commuter trains at rush, but they usually wear white gloves and do it politely. Course if you miss the train you can always stay in a capsule hotel.

Sumo is both a sport and a religious rite. Well it started as one - it was to entertain the gods. *shrug*

Cool though.