If you’re familiar with books such as ‘The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories’ then you will know how ‘The Diving Pool’ works. If not, let me explain. Within this book, there are three novellas but each carry a similar tone of innocence-turned-cruelty. Just like ‘The Bloody Chamber’ carried the theme of sex and power, ‘The Diving Pool’ explores the darkness within us all and the darkness around us.
To read my review of ‘The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories’ click here.
The first novella is a story focused around two siblings. Aya is a girl who is in love with her foster-brother, Jun. She watches him in the school gym when he’s practicing his dives, and becomes a little obsessive and sadistic as the story goes on. It gets very dark and odd, and there’s no single word I can describe this story other than odd but it was enjoyable.
The second novella is written in the form of diary entries (which I thought was a good way of laying it out) and follows the journey of a woman who is witnessing her sister going through pregnancy. The behaviour of the pregnant sister is quite normal, but the woman witnessing her sister being pregnant takes on a bit of an obsessiveness for her sister, writing down her behaviours and keeping watch of her, and especially making passion fruit jam just so she can watch her sister eat it and get fat. Creepy yet interesting, I was certainly entertained by this story yet the last part of the story left me confused. I wasn’t sure what to think, but I’ll leave that for you to read and find out.
The third story focuses on a woman who recommends her cousin to stay at the same dormitory she did back in her university days, only to find herself becoming attached to it, regularly visiting the place and living a relatively bland life. The most interesting and entertaining out of all three stories, I loved the mystery behind this one and the fact that it had me questioning after every page made me love it even more. It was left open for the reader to interpret and mull over, and I believe it worked for this story. There was so much to the plot, and it was definitely one that made me think.
Plot Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars
I hated Aya (from the first novella). She was selfish, unempathetic and just plain creepy. She was someone I came to dislike rather quickly, and was a part of the reason as to why I didn’t really like the first story. Jun, on the other hand, was a sweetheart and the total opposite of Aya. He was kind and giving, so Aya being obsessed with him made me fear for him but also think that he was hiding something too because…he was too sweet and these stories all had characters that had something dark about them that either was already present or occurred later. Overall, I just really didn’t like Aya. At all.
As for the other characters in the other two novellas, I never really formed an opinion about them other than the fact that they slowly started to descend into madness and become creepy. All appearing relatively normal at first, they quickly became creepy and despite being a recurring theme, it was one I didn’t get tired of.
Character Rating: 2 out of 4 Stars
You can easily get sucked in to these stories, therefore I would call this book gripping. Yoko manages to make each story creepy and odd, and I was certainly not surprised as the Japanese can do this so well. Each was different in how creepy they were, but the last novella managed to make me feel absolutely weird and creeped out so it succeeded better in making me feel uncomfortable (which was actually a good thing!).
Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars
In the end, I really did enjoy this book and the novellas within it but found one to be stronger than the others in regards to the creep factor. I found the last story to be the strongest out of the three, whilst the other two I could easily forget.
Overall Rating: 3 + 2 + 2 = 7 out of 10 Stars
For any other reviews and information regarding The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1337973.The_Diving_Pool
Have you read this book? If so, leave a comment down below and let me know what you think?