I am addicted to all things Japanese and, by and large, I love Japanese fiction. I certainly enjoyed 'The Devotion of Suspect X' and would recommend it, but for me there is a big problem with 'Naoko': the translation. It's often an issue with Japanese novels: you can read three from the same series (that is, by the same author) enjoy two of them and find the third almost unreadable. 'Naoko' is certainly not unreadable, but it is very, very, VERY American. It is not a question, you will understand, of being a 'good' or a 'bad' translation. Kerim Yasar, the translator, is well-qualified and I assume that the translation is accurate ... but it's also very Merikan. I have no problem with American writing - I enjoy that too - but to my (English) ear this text is ... how can I put it? ... 'culturally insensitive'. It's not simply the occasional 'mom' where we might say 'mum' or 'mother'; the speech patterns, the phrasing, the feel of the prose all scream 'American'. I imagine that to an American reader terms like 'anyways' are neutral and not in the least distracting. I can only say that it felt like reading a novel by an American author and in this case that matters a great deal because, give or take a few (interesting) twists, the novel is essentially the working out of a fairly common theme: a woman inhabits the body of her teen-aged daughter. Unless it FEELS Japanese through and through, it's always going to be a very ordinary read?
[Two things in passing: I had no problems at all with 'Suspect X', translated by Alexander Smith. And there are some howlers in this text ... 'He could HERE her giggle now and then.' (Page 190) NOT a big issue, but it makes you wonder?]