~written by Koji Suzuki
~translated by Camellia Nieh and Jonathan Lloyd-Davies
Although Edge is Koji Suzuki's eighth novel to be translated into English, it is the first work of his that I have had the opportunity to read. Suzuki is best known for his horror novel Ring and its numerous adaptations. Edge is also a horror story of sorts, although of a very different kind. Koji has described the novel as "quantum horror," which caught my attention. I was intrigued by the thought of a thriller inspired by science. Noticing that the novel included a four-page bibliography didn't scare me off. In fact, it made Edge even more appealing to me. Originally released in Japan in 2008 (and then again in a revised edition in 2012), Edge was translated into English by Camellia Nieh and Jonathan Lloyd-Davies and published by Vertical in 2012. Vertical was also the English publisher of Suzuki's previous seven novels.
Eighteen years ago, Saeko Kuriyama's father disappeared without a trace, leaving behind only the love of science and critical thinking that he instilled in his daughter. Those skills have served her well as a journalist. Now she has become involved in investigating a case that hits very close to home for her: in Takato, Japan an entire family of four, the Fujimuras, have mysteriously vanished from their home, seemingly without reason or cause. Japan isn't the only place where people have gone missing without explanation. As more and more cases are brought to light, Saeko and the other people with whom she is working are able to begin to piece together some theories. The patterns they identify are troubling at best; the underlying laws that bind the universe together seem to be falling apart. When even the scientific experts are terrified by what's happening, what hope does the rest of the population have?
Edge starts out strongly with a lot of promise. The prologue introduces the missing persons phenomena and the startling discovery of the change in the value of pi. The thought of the very fundamentals of mathematics and the laws of physics shifting just slightly and the resulting implications that would have is intriguing and fascinating to contemplate. Unfortunately, it takes Suzuki nearly three quarters of the novel to tie the prologue back into the main narrative. During that time Saeko is dealing with her own personal problems while she is investigating the disappearances of the Fujimuras, finding strange connections to other mass disappearances. While this is going on Suzuki also introduces a quite a few plot threads that don't end up going anywhere. Sadly, I found much of Edge to be a bit of a slog to read.
At times, Edge reads like a layman's introduction to higher level physics, mathematics, astronomy, evolution, and other scientific concepts. Personally, I found it all to be very interesting, but not particularly compelling as a novel. Still, it is the science-influenced horror which is the novel's strength. As Edge approaches its climax, Suzuki reveals a very intriguing explanation for everything that is happening. As one of the characters states, even the "coincidences all had significance." But then Suzuki abandons the science in favor of pseudo-science and the supernatural which comes out of nowhere and makes little sense within the context of the rest of the story. I actually felt a little betrayed. Ultimately, I was left both frustrated and disappointed by Edge. It started with such great promise but ended in such a confusing mess. I'd still be willing to give another of Suzuki's works a try, but Edge doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.