Heavenly Delusion by Masakazu Ishiguro
Heavenly Delusion introduces us to a devastated Japan. After “The Collapse,” modern civilization as we know it was destroyed and much of the population perished. I was pulled in by the intriguing, mysterious dystopian landscape which they let wash over you instead of trying to frontload the story with a lot of explanation.
Tokio and other kids are part of a facility that completely encloses them from the hellish outside world. One day she gets a strange message and her friend makes a prediction that someone with Tokio’s face will come to rescue her. The children in this facility come off as ordinary teens going to school, joking around, and awakening to new feelings. But other things are odd, there are secrets here; off limits areas, a lack of information, and you get the distinct feeling that some of them know more than others.
In a parallel story, Kiruko and Maru are wanderers of the dystopian wasteland seeking two people Kiruko carries photos of and the nebulous “heaven,” the final words of a friend. Kiruko is supposed to be Maru’s bodyguard on this journey but their rapport is more of that of friends or siblings, and Maru does his fair share of defending against threats. Their easy manner contrasts nicely as they encounter survivors, monsters, and their own internal struggles along their perilous journey.
What has happened to the world? Who is Kiruko? Why do Maru and Tokio have the same face? Where did the monsters come from? When will this rescue occur? How does Maru know how to fight the monsters? Heavenly Delusion leaves me contemplating so many questions after each chapter I read. The story has layers upon layers, both in terms of the plot and the interior lives of the characters that keeps me turning the pages.
Heavenly Delusion feels like a classic sci-fi story with the added bonus of Ishiguro’s off-kilter characters.