by 赤川次郎 (Akagawa Jirou)
301 pages, furigana on all kanji except numbers, a picture roughly every other chapter
(I read the 2009 edition; it seems earlier editions did not include as much furigana, which makes sense to me as some of the content in this book is definitely not aimed at young children!)
The first few lines:
After witnessing a classmate's suicide, Machiko transfers to a new high school. But her new classmates are soon involved in a series of deadly accidents. Can Machiko and her boyfriend figure out who's behind it all?
My feelings about this book are pretty mixed. In a way, I'm very happy to have read it, because, furigana aside, it's probably the most difficult book I've read in Japanese so far, and it's great to feel like my reading ability has leveled up. (Although unfortunately I have yet to escape this community's "very easy" tag, haha!) I can also say that this book did a good job of creating mystery and suspense, and there were a couple chapter cliffhangers that were really well done! Unfortunately, I don't have much else to say that's positive. The main character is both bland and difficult to relate to, the gender roles in this book are much stricter than I enjoy reading about, there's a teacher-student relationship that's treated as a non-issue (maybe this and the last point are just cultural differences?), and the overall plot strains credulity. Reading this book wasn't a terrible experience or anything like that, but I probably won't seek out more of the author's work. Apparently a 死者の学園祭 movie was released in 2000, though ... I admit I'm a little curious about that!