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Review: Cold Sleep

Reviewer: Jaime Samms
Cold Sleep

Author/Artist: Narise Konohara
Publisher: June
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: August 2006

Synopsis: “After losing his memory in a car accident, Tohru Takahisa is taken in by Fujishima, an older man who claims to be his friend. But the taciturn Fujishima refuses to reveal anything about Tohru’s past! Despite the gulf between them, a strange and awkward tenderness grows, even as they are held apart by the tragic events of Tohru’s forgotten past! Dramatic, heart-wrenching romance and tragedy combine in a gripping story where the past and present are intricately entwined.”

Cold Sleep is a different sort of yaoi novel. It delves a deeper into the psyche of the characters and, though we still have just the typical one point of view, the lead isn’t your run-of-the mill yaoi character. He’s a blank slate, sure, but still a thinking feeling man who isn’t afraid to go after the answers he needs.

I personally am not too concerned with the realistic likelihood of the main character’s medical dilemma. That isn’t why I read yaoi novels. I read them for their distinctly streamlined look into the characters’ minds and hearts. Without a lifetime of baggage to weigh him down, Tohru has a unique chance to build a new life and concentrate on the one man who has done everything to help him do just that. It isn’t until he delves into his past that he realizes what a prize he has in his present and understands what he wants his future to look like.

I had a lot of chances to get frustrated with Fujishima, however, with no real insight into why his actions and his words don’t agree. He went far out of his way to help Tohru, and then maintains he doesn’t want him. It made no sense, and it frustrated me to no end. But I couldn’t dislike this character, because he just never let Tohru down. Between these two characters, a strange kind of tenderness grows as they learn to listen and respond to one another, and give what the other will be willing to accept. (Even if Tohru needs a bit of a kick from his friend to figure out how to reach Fujishima at first.)

If I have a complaint, it would be that the book kind of ended in uncertainty. If I didn’t already know there is a second book, that might have made me very hesitant to pick up another of Konohara’s books. It was a lot of angst and heartache to go through on both characters’ behalf to have the ending be so far from a sure thing.

As for the art pages, I really liked the careful attention to detail and I kind of wish there were more illustrations. I thought it was nice to see a few of the other characters given face time in the illustrations that were there though. It’s a nice change to see some different moments from the story other than the sex scenes. It gave me a great insight into the moments and character interactions that meant something to the author.

A nice surprise also came in the form of the two short stories at the end of this book. I wasn’t expecting this bonus, so it was great to get the double treat of “Class Reunion” and “The One I Love”, both short stories feature the love affair between Kurokawa and Taniguchi, two men who knew each other during high school. The stories are written at the beginning of their re-association and at the beginning of their love affair. They are both very sweet and touching in the way these two very different men find each other and learn about each other, and make the decision to love. As much as I liked Cold Sleep, these two little gems at the end really made me smile.

Review written September 28, 2010 by Jaime Samms
Digital copy provided by eManga for review purposes

Jaime Samms

About the Author:

Jaime Samms has been writing gay romance and fiction for quite some time now, and reviewing it for almost as long. She's published with e-publishers Freya’s Bower, Lovyoudivine Alterotica and soon, Total e-Bound and Drollerie Press. "Writing is quite a passion for me. I’ve been asked many times why write about love affairs between men, when I clearly am not one, and really, it feels right to me. Not a terribly informative answer, but there it is."

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