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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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07/12/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi Novel Review: Better Than a Dream"

Better Than a Dream
Story by: Raica Sakuragi
Illustrations by: Katsumi Asanami
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN-10: 1-56970-734-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-56970-734-0

Review by Kris

I am going to quote from the back of the book:

"Tsukada and Yuuki are the perfect couple, living a life of bliss in the shadow of towering Mount Asahidake. While Tsukada is a risk-taking adventurer, homebody Yuuki runs a cafe called Fuuka. But after Tsukada dies in a tragic avalanche, Yuuki sinks into a dark depression, unable to get his lover out of his mind. An old schoolmate helps him ease the pain, but their relationship is uneasy at best.

One year later, a mysterious stranger walks into Fuuka carrying a mountain-climber's backpack. Kamishiro is a brawny master chef who's looking for a job. Yuuki ends up hiring him, and even throws in room and board.

Soon they are roommates with separate bedrooms, until one fateful night, when everything changes between them."

Yuuki met Tsukada while he was working in his grandparents cafe, Fuuka. They struck up an unusual friendship and spent quite a bit of time with one another. Tsukada was a mountain climber and worked in an outdoor outfitters in town. Two years after they became friends they became lovers. When Yuuki's grandparents decided to retire from the cafe business, Yuuki took it over. For two years Yuuki and Tsukada were in sheer bliss until one fateful day when Tsukada was killed in an avalanche. Yuuki was beside himself with grief and couldn't really cope. His high school buddy, Shin, wants to do all he can for Yuuki. He spends many a night at the cafe and time with Yuuki.

About a year has passed since Tsukada's death and life has settled down for Yuuki. Shin still comes around when he's not away on construction jobs. But one day Yuuki's world is turned upside down. One afternoon a large guy comes into Fuuka. Strangers usually don't frequent his establishment, but it's not the fact that this guy is a stranger. What takes Yuuki by surprise is the backpack the stranger is carrying. It's a bright yellow mountain-climber's backpack, and Tsukada had one just like it. The stranger ordered a whole bunch of things off the menu, freaking Yuuki out. Our mystery man reassured Yuuki that he wasn't going to dine and dash and offered to pay up front. After preparing and serving the food, the stranger invited Yuuki to sit down while he ate. Once trying all of the dishes the man states that he'll start working for him. Yuuki is taken aback. He was hiring, but was going to hire someone to wait tables. But the man, Kamishiro, hands over his resume, fixes a dish and convinces Yuuki to hire him. Yuuki reluctantly agrees. It turns out that Kamishiro is a five-star chef that has worked in only the most prestigious restaurants. Yuuki can't pay Kamishiro what he's worth, but Kamishiro basically says that if Yuuki can provide a room and pay what he was planning on paying the waitress, he would take the job. As Kamishiro retreated into the house to take a bath (the house is attached to the cafe) Yuuki notices that Kamishiro walks with a terrible limp.

Yuuki wants to let his pal Shin know about the new development, but he doesn't know how to approach the subject. So, he doesn't. As time passes something about Kamishiro reminds Yuuki of Tsukada. Yuuki finds himself being more and more attracted to this man. But Yuuki can't seem to find out much about Kamishiro. One day Shin comes into Fuuka. Of course he's quite surprised at the newest development. Shin quickly eats his meal and leaves. Yuuki is worried, but can't dwell on it too much because with Kamishiro cooking, Fuuka has become quite the popular cafe. One stormy night right before closing Shin appears again, but is drunker than a skunk (although I don't think I've ever seen drunk skunks before). While in the cafe Shin makes a complete fool out of himself and then passes out. Yuuki, not knowing what to do decides to drive Shin and his car to Shin's apartment, much to Kamishiro's dismay. When Shin and Yuuki arrive at Shin's, he confesses that he's wanted to make the moves on Yuuki but has respected the time that Yuuki needs to grieve over Tsukada. Shin then decides he can't wait anymore and decides to take Yuuki by force, all while spouting hateful things about Yuuki and Kamishiro getting it on (which we know that there isn't anything going on). Shin can't seem to get Yuuki's fire going and so decides to stop before he's full on raped Yuuki. Yuuki arrives back at Fuuka showing the signs that something had happened. Yuuki has found himself being attracted to Kamishiro and he doesn't want to be seen in state. The next day Kamishiro wants to know what happened between Yuuki and Shin, more out of worry than curiosity. To which Yuuki explodes, due to sexual frustration, and invites Kamishiro to sleep with him right then and there. Kamishiro grabs Yuuki and proceeds with the invitation. Once the sexual flames have subsided the two continue in their relationship. But Yuuki can't seem to get the fact that he doesn't know much about Kamishiro out of his mind. It seems that he's harboring some secrets.

I must say that I really liked this story. It was so refreshing to read something other than rape lit, which many yaoi stories are. They share a loving relationship built on mutual feelings. The only thing missing is the trust. The story does make an interesting twist that is really kind of surprising, I sure didn't see it coming. The story was very interesting and beautifully written. The illustrations are also gorgeous. Sometimes you'll come across one of these novels and there will be a lot of illustrations, just to fill space. In this case it's a fairly thick book (for yaoi standards) and just a few illustrations. No arguments from me though. For anyone who has read my reviews where I've said that I avoided reading something due to me judging the book by the cover and kicking myself later for thinking shallow things about it, I totally judged this book by it's cover. But I bought it because I thought that the art on the cover was beautiful and that's why I wanted to read it. I know that's just as shallow but I don't care! Juné made a good choice in Better Than a Dream. I do recommend this romantic novel to anyone, at least those who appreciate the yaoi genre (not everyone can handle male on male action).

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