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A modern-day fantasy novel about demons, dreams, and a young woman teaching English in Japan. Cybelle teaches English in a small city in Japan. Her contract is up for renewal, her mother is begging her to come back to Canada, and she is not sure where she belongs anymore. She faces ostracism and fear daily, but she loves her job, despite its increasing difficulties. She vow A modern-day fantasy novel about demons, dreams, and a young woman teaching English in Japan. Cybelle teaches English in a small city in Japan. Her contract is up for renewal, her mother is begging her to come back to Canada, and she is not sure where she belongs anymore. She faces ostracism and fear daily, but she loves her job, despite its increasing difficulties. She vows to do her best — even when her sleep, appetite, and life in general start to get weird, and conforming to the rules that once helped her becomes a struggle. Meanwhile, yokai feast and cavort around Osaka and Kyoto as the barrier between their world and the human world thins. Zaniel spends his nights walking the dream world and serving his demon “bodyguard,” Akki. But there is a new yokai on the scene, and it has gotten on Akki’s bad side. When Cybelle gets caught up in the supernatural clash, she has to figure out what is real and, more importantly, what she really wants … before her life spirals out of control altogether.


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A modern-day fantasy novel about demons, dreams, and a young woman teaching English in Japan. Cybelle teaches English in a small city in Japan. Her contract is up for renewal, her mother is begging her to come back to Canada, and she is not sure where she belongs anymore. She faces ostracism and fear daily, but she loves her job, despite its increasing difficulties. She vow A modern-day fantasy novel about demons, dreams, and a young woman teaching English in Japan. Cybelle teaches English in a small city in Japan. Her contract is up for renewal, her mother is begging her to come back to Canada, and she is not sure where she belongs anymore. She faces ostracism and fear daily, but she loves her job, despite its increasing difficulties. She vows to do her best — even when her sleep, appetite, and life in general start to get weird, and conforming to the rules that once helped her becomes a struggle. Meanwhile, yokai feast and cavort around Osaka and Kyoto as the barrier between their world and the human world thins. Zaniel spends his nights walking the dream world and serving his demon “bodyguard,” Akki. But there is a new yokai on the scene, and it has gotten on Akki’s bad side. When Cybelle gets caught up in the supernatural clash, she has to figure out what is real and, more importantly, what she really wants … before her life spirals out of control altogether.

30 review for Yume

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    Much longer than I expected, this story has dual narratives that gradually get closer until the author brings the together, with a conflict between yokai (Japanese supernatural beings). Story thread 1: Zaniel, a young man, brings attractive young women to the yokai Akki for Akki to have sex with, as part of Zaniel’s agreement with the boar spirit. Akki became Zaniel’s bodyguard years earlier when Zaniel was being mercilessly bullied by his Japanese classmates because f his half-Japanese, half-Ame Much longer than I expected, this story has dual narratives that gradually get closer until the author brings the together, with a conflict between yokai (Japanese supernatural beings). Story thread 1: Zaniel, a young man, brings attractive young women to the yokai Akki for Akki to have sex with, as part of Zaniel’s agreement with the boar spirit. Akki became Zaniel’s bodyguard years earlier when Zaniel was being mercilessly bullied by his Japanese classmates because f his half-Japanese, half-American parentage. Story thread 2: Cybelle, a black Canadian, has been employed in Japan, for over six years, teaching kids to speak English, and while she loves what she’s seen and done in the country, has also experienced almost non-stop racism, including from some of her coworkers. Cybelle begins experiencing huge, constant hunger and vivid dreams and nightmares, none of which make sense to her. When a mysterious yokai comes to Akki’s notice, the boar spirit takes great exception to the unknown yokai, assuming she is trying to steal Zaniel from him. As the two story threads come together, Cybelle begins, unknowingly, to see yokai in her daily life. At the same time, her work and life become increasingly chaotic, and violent, with things in the human and spirit worlds becoming clear eventually. I say eventually, as this story takes a while to get going. The author spends a good amount of time on setting up both worlds, so that you gradually understand what is likely happening about halfway into the book. Even with its slow start, and chaotic events, I liked it. Cybelle works hard at throwing off her frustrations with her work and the xenophobia surrounding her, and unfortunately, spends much of the book not understanding what is happening to her, though it is clear to the reader. Also, this book was more heavy on plot than character development, but I liked this book, and its outsider view and experience of Japan. The ending was shocking, and left enough questions open for more story, and I want to know what happens next. Thank you to Netgalley and Dundurn Press for this ARC in exchange for my review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)

    📚 Hello Book Friends! I just finished YUME by Sifton Tracey Anipare and I am conflicted about writing this review. What I liked: 1. Interesting and well-defined characters 2. The gorgeous cover 3. Getting to know more about yokai (supernatural entities and spirits in Japanese folklore) 4. The Canadian link through Cybelle, a black Canadian English teacher What I did not like: 1. The pace – It was lagging a lot at the beginning 2. The size of the book – it could have been shorter 3. The infusion of Japa 📚 Hello Book Friends! I just finished YUME by Sifton Tracey Anipare and I am conflicted about writing this review. What I liked: 1. Interesting and well-defined characters 2. The gorgeous cover 3. Getting to know more about yokai (supernatural entities and spirits in Japanese folklore) 4. The Canadian link through Cybelle, a black Canadian English teacher What I did not like: 1. The pace – It was lagging a lot at the beginning 2. The size of the book – it could have been shorter 3. The infusion of Japanese words and sentences without translation. 4. The writing was unengaging. If I had known more about Japanese folklore or if I was an anime fan, I think I would have enjoyed this one more. #bookstadog #poodles #poodlestagram #poodlesofinstagram #furbabies #dogsofinstagram #bookstagram #dogsandbooks #bookishlife #bookishlove #bookstagrammer #books #booklover #bookish #bookaholic #reading #readersofinstagram #instaread #ilovebooks #bookishcanadians #canadianbookstagram #bookreviewer #bookcommunity #bibliophile #yume #dundurnpress #siftontraceyanipare #bookreview

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sookie

    Yume has two voices in this book - Cybelle, a Canadian teacher in Japan teaching English and Zaniel, a dream walker, who is in the world of supernatural enslaved to the king of nightmares. Zaniel at first meets Yokai, who has a vociferous appetite for, well, everything. The Yokai causes problems for nightmare king and Zaniel sees this as a opportunity to be free. Cybelle is seemingly unhappy - she faces lots of obstacles at her job and no one seem to like her and she doesn't seem to like anyone Yume has two voices in this book - Cybelle, a Canadian teacher in Japan teaching English and Zaniel, a dream walker, who is in the world of supernatural enslaved to the king of nightmares. Zaniel at first meets Yokai, who has a vociferous appetite for, well, everything. The Yokai causes problems for nightmare king and Zaniel sees this as a opportunity to be free. Cybelle is seemingly unhappy - she faces lots of obstacles at her job and no one seem to like her and she doesn't seem to like anyone either. But why she still sticks to this job, is never made clear. The mundane and boring life of Cybelle is shook up when she meets Zaniel, when they meet in the real world. With Zaniel decision to help Yokai, Cybelle gets onboard. Only from this point on Yume becomes truly enjoyable as a fantasy adventure. But the shifting narrative can be confusing (and the untranslated Japanese phrases might have made me miss some context as well) and its a little too long for the story its trying to tell. But to get to this point that is almost the last third of the book, there is a lot of exposition that could be done with out. Its a fairly long book that tells a pretty good story but not a very complex one. The conflict is simple and the solution is straight forward. Yume introduces a lot of Japanese folklore elements to readers and if one is new to this, the book is a great starting point. Thank you University of Dundurn Press and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rin

    The story follows Cybelle, a black Canadian teacher living in Japan. Life is not easy for her. She often experiences racism, misogyny and xenophobia. She gets caught up in Japanese mythological gods and demons with the dreamworld escapism. I really loved the dreamworld and the yokai. The concept was really unique and interesting. The Japanese folklore was well executed but it definitely lacked depth. I enjoyed the folklore aspect of the story but the pacing felt really off for me

  5. 5 out of 5

    Geena

    3.5/5 This book was certainly something I've never read before, it was very much a blend of slice of life and fantasy.... except the lines get blurred between the two and we get the mess that Cybelle ends up in I think something the author does really well is make each character's voice so unique that even if we switch perspectives halfway through a paragraph we're not that disoriented. Cybelle's POV got you feeling exhausted and hungry, Zaniel's has you nervous, and Akki's gives you an insight in 3.5/5 This book was certainly something I've never read before, it was very much a blend of slice of life and fantasy.... except the lines get blurred between the two and we get the mess that Cybelle ends up in I think something the author does really well is make each character's voice so unique that even if we switch perspectives halfway through a paragraph we're not that disoriented. Cybelle's POV got you feeling exhausted and hungry, Zaniel's has you nervous, and Akki's gives you an insight into what a fuckboy demon (who hates people that aren't Japanese) would sound like I cut off some stars because a lot of the English school chapters were just something for us to slog through, they really only start having sort of impact near the last third of the book... I understand it was probably a reflection of the author's own time spent teaching in Japan but overall I was like some of this is repetitive and takes away from the chapters spent in the dream world The dream world chapters on the other hand were really fun, and hate to say it but Akki's chapters always had me intrigued because something about his brainworms was so funny to me... and Cybelle's Yokai adventure was always funny and had me feeling just as hungry as her Another thing I thought was interesting was how Zaniel, who comes off so anxious in his own chapters comes off so laid back when he eventually meets Cybelle... call that that conviction of wanting to get tf away from Akki I suppose Overall, I loved the writing! Could've cut out some scenes, but it was still fun and the integration of Yokai and how they interact with the world was cool

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Hlavaty (readingwithkelsey)

    I received an eARC copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 3.5 stars - I am settling on this rating because I had some conflicting thoughts on this book. The atmosphere was really good - when we were in Cybelle's perspective I felt like a foreigner in Japan and when we were in Zaniel's perspective (yokai world), I felt the unsettling nature of the forest. It was perfectly spooky! Although I ca I received an eARC copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 3.5 stars - I am settling on this rating because I had some conflicting thoughts on this book. The atmosphere was really good - when we were in Cybelle's perspective I felt like a foreigner in Japan and when we were in Zaniel's perspective (yokai world), I felt the unsettling nature of the forest. It was perfectly spooky! Although I cannot speak for this representation, I really appreciated Cybelle's perspective as a foreigner in Japan; I think it really added to point the story and tie her two worlds together. The more Cybelle starts to spiral, the more these two worlds combine and I really enjoyed the parallel plot that Anipare created between the two. While it was a little more obvious that needed, I still think it was beautifully done to understand Cybelle's struggles. The book's main issue was it's pacing. The writing is very easy to follow and fun to read, but the pacing makes the book feel more difficult to read. There were many points towards the end of the novel where I really felt the book could have ended but didn't (although, I do have to say that that the last chapter was *chef's kiss* perfect - LOVE how it ended). Zaniel as a love interest/secondary character left much to be desired. I think their relationship could have been a tad more developed and I would have probably enjoyed him more. Overall, this book made me VERY excited to see what Anipare puts out next!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nicki Markus

    Yume is a book that took me a little while to get into. In the early stages, I found both story lines interesting in their own way, and I could see the themes mirrored in each; however, they felt too separated. I am glad I stuck with it, though, as all that changed once we passed the midpoint. The two threads slowly came together to form a single narrative and the book finally felt like a cohesive whole. Anipare's prose was engaging and flowed well. I see in her biography that she has experience Yume is a book that took me a little while to get into. In the early stages, I found both story lines interesting in their own way, and I could see the themes mirrored in each; however, they felt too separated. I am glad I stuck with it, though, as all that changed once we passed the midpoint. The two threads slowly came together to form a single narrative and the book finally felt like a cohesive whole. Anipare's prose was engaging and flowed well. I see in her biography that she has experience teaching English in Japan, but I hope she has exaggerated things for her representation of Cybelle's world, as if I were in Cybelle's shoes, I don't think I would last a week being treated that way! As someone currently studying Japanese, I enjoyed the Japanese text and phrases found in the pages. Meanwhile, as a fan of folklore, I enjoyed learning more about the various yokai through Anipare's story. Based on my appreciation of this book, I would definitely pick up future works by this author. For me, this was a 4.5-star read. I recommend this book to fans of folklore-inspired fantasy and magical realism. However, if you are someone who struggles with (and is likely to DNF) slow-start books, I would urge you to persevere, as the second half of this tale does pick up the pace and bring everything together for a more action-packed finale. It's worth the wait. I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ness

    2.5★ this gorgeous cover and the intriguing premise of this book instantly appealed to me. i'm always up for japanese culture and folklore but unfortunately this didn't live up to my expectations as much as i'd hoped, nor was it a very enjoyable experience. for one, i couldn't connect with any of the characters, though i appreciated the perspectives introduced in the story. the premise behind the book is really interesting and had so much potential, but the execution didn't quite hit the mark for 2.5★ this gorgeous cover and the intriguing premise of this book instantly appealed to me. i'm always up for japanese culture and folklore but unfortunately this didn't live up to my expectations as much as i'd hoped, nor was it a very enjoyable experience. for one, i couldn't connect with any of the characters, though i appreciated the perspectives introduced in the story. the premise behind the book is really interesting and had so much potential, but the execution didn't quite hit the mark for me. on top of all that, the story dragged quite a bit and could've been way shorter than it is! the writing style was not for me either; it felt clunky and awkward and confused the storyline for me even more. overall, i just think this needed to be better edited and the story itself less vague and more concise and to-the-point. disappointed i didn't like this one :( — digital arc provided via netgalley + edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    zuzqaa

    Frankly, I started reading this book with no high hopes, but I like my anime & Japanese culture, so I gave it a shot. Unfortunately no hopes were exceeded. Which is quite surprising, with author´s big team of helpers. Yume (jap. Dream) is a fantasy novel based on real life of author (you can see parallels there) with second dream-life. In the real one, Cybelle, main protagonist, is an English teacher in Japan for few years now. She goes very detailed about her day-on-day life, what´s happening in Frankly, I started reading this book with no high hopes, but I like my anime & Japanese culture, so I gave it a shot. Unfortunately no hopes were exceeded. Which is quite surprising, with author´s big team of helpers. Yume (jap. Dream) is a fantasy novel based on real life of author (you can see parallels there) with second dream-life. In the real one, Cybelle, main protagonist, is an English teacher in Japan for few years now. She goes very detailed about her day-on-day life, what´s happening in English school, what food she buys, etc. I can see Sifton Tracey really experienced these things. But at night, there´s whole new world in dreams, full of yokais. Here we meet another (supposedly) human – Zaniel with strange eyes and his “protector” demon Akki. Confusing thing was, that word “yokai” was used for all yokais AND the protagonist yokai, and for the ¾ of book I wasn´t sure about who are we talking about in this or that sentence. Yokai world was quite gruesome, not recommending it to children. I liked shifting of dreams and some of the dream world. I give a thumb up for yokai´s research. But back to confusing things, spoken language was one of them. Sometimes they spoke English, sometimes “yumego” (which I found out after middle of the story what is it), sometimes Japanese. I have to warn readers right now – there is a lot of Japanese – sometimes unnecessary, sometimes easy phrases – without any translation. I´m not sure why, and okay, most of it was easy, but not everything and I don´t understand why it was even there? Toward the end of story there were some small explanations of Japanese phrases, but in first half of a book almost none. Did author wanted to flex about her Japanese abilities? I like this language too, but sometimes I cringed. Also the story was not properly explained, who was protagonist yokai??? It was Japanese folklore? Or Canadian? Or Ghanaian? And Lieko??? Zaniel & Cybelle´s story had flaws too. What was also quite annoying, was that 99% of Japanese people Cybelle met, was afraid of her (like “mite, gaijin, kowai”) because of her dark skin, and a lot of people gave her “nihongo jouzo desu ne”. I´m not sure if the author really experienced this with 99% people she met or it was exaggerated, but I didn´t need to read about it on every few pages, sorry for your bad experiences. There was also one small problem with vegan choices of food, but unrelated to story. Maybe I would enjoy this book in my teens, when I started to learn Japanese and watched a lot of anime. Or maybe not, who knows. I can´t write a lot compliments about this book, I mostly remember its annoying things and was confused half of the time, sorry. But thanks to NetGalley for eARC. I promise I will choose wiser next time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Thank you to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book feels like a grown-up version of Spirited Away, the Miyazaki animated film. The spirit world of Yokai, or Japanese gods/demons, is more gory and violent in this book, but still colorful, whimsical, and grounded in folklore and mythology. Some humans can visit and interact with the other world through dreams. The story has surreal dream logic which sometimes is similar to fairytale log Thank you to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book feels like a grown-up version of Spirited Away, the Miyazaki animated film. The spirit world of Yokai, or Japanese gods/demons, is more gory and violent in this book, but still colorful, whimsical, and grounded in folklore and mythology. Some humans can visit and interact with the other world through dreams. The story has surreal dream logic which sometimes is similar to fairytale logic. Things just are and they happen. Not much explanation. Cybelle is one of the humans who can walk in dreams, but she does not know it and does not remember much of what happens there. Still, things in the spirit world are creeping into her modern Japanese life as an expat English teacher. She loves teaching and cares about the children, but it is not easy. As a Black Canadian living in Japan, she experiences racism, misogyny and xenophobia every day. She has her own insecurities feeling like an outsider even before she left Canada. Cybelle was always interested in Japanese culture and hoped to find her place there. In Japan, that outside identity is compounded by her language and foreign citizenship. The judgements about her skin color are much stronger and openly expressed. There is another human dream-walker, Zaniel. To protect himself from bullying and the dangerous Yokai in the dream world, he made a deal as a teenager with Akki, a powerful boar demon, to be his bodyguard. Zaniel has to bring women to Akki in the spirit world for romantic liaisons. That's the exchange. Over the years, it has become more and more unacceptable to Zaniel. A conflict grows after Cybelle inadvertently trespasses and upsets Akki. It will become a pitched battle between the two and things get complicated in the waking world. The descriptions are vivid. As I read the passages in the spirit world I can imagine it like watching an anime. There were clear parallels and connections between the physical world and the dreams. The transitions between the spirit world and reality were good. Sometimes they were purposely disorienting in that way of waking up from a detailed dream. Cybelle is the most fully developed character and I was rooting for her. I understood her conflicts. I feel this book did not need to be as long as it is. For me it was a little repetitive. I never lost interest, though. The tension builds and then releases and builds again and releases. Growing to a feverish crescendo in a couple of major showdowns. The final pages feel a bit rushed and the end is abrupt. In the second and third acts we get some explanation and Cybelle learns and remembers some things. There are plenty of side questions and details that are just left open. It was enough explanation for me, especially for this kind of storytelling.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sasan

    For a somewhat longer than I expected book, this was pretty easy to read. I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for the opportunity. I have my own blog now, so please do give it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :) ─────────────────── Yume is a bit tough to categorize easily in a genre or a sub-genre as it felt like an interesting mishmash of different ones that don't necessarily work that well together. The author in this For a somewhat longer than I expected book, this was pretty easy to read. I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for the opportunity. I have my own blog now, so please do give it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :) ─────────────────── Yume is a bit tough to categorize easily in a genre or a sub-genre as it felt like an interesting mishmash of different ones that don't necessarily work that well together. The author in this one however, does make it work in a sense by involving the different point of views in the narrative. For anyone who knows anything about Japan or let's say anime as a closer comparison, the "idea" of an unseen world is incredibly common and you will see applications of series that incorporate that unseen world in their stories while also seemingly carrying on different more contemporary plot-lines at certain times like Noragami, Natsume Yuujinchou and Nurarihyon no Mago to name a few examples. So seeing it in Yume was once again something interesting to me, as I really enjoy that aspect of their culture. It does however, make the point of views feel like separate books before the convergence of the plot at the halfway point or so. Until then, I got to see a closer to look at what a foreigner and more specifically a person of colour, potentially faces in that country, on what I'm assuming is based on the author's own experiences as she has spent 4 years teaching in Japan. There is a huge focus on the racism towards PoC, culture differences and workplace dynamics which I thought was an interesting take on the situation, but it also got me thinking a bit as well. The world painted here is very racist and following Cybelle, it made me question why she stayed that long in that country and in that job specifically. I would've understood it a bit more if she seemed to enjoy at least one aspect in her life to a much bigger degree than momentary enjoyments, but she and to be fair, almost everyone in the cast were really unhappy about a lot of things. Which in turn, caused me to question their motives with if you're free to go, then why don't you? I eventually took it as a devotion to the job itself and a bit of a twisted idea of perseverance. This part of the book takes a good chunk of it where Cybelle experiences different types of the Japanese culture while facing the social issues that comes with it which was once again interesting. On the Youkai side of things however, things were as bloody and twisted as expected with different demons being showcased and how it connects to the normal world. There is also a twist here that I picked up about 30% or so in the book, which I thought was interesting. I wouldn't comment a lot on this part of the book because it's easy to spoil, but if you're a fan of youkai and demons, then you'll most likely enjoy this part of it. Given the length of the book, I spent a considerable amount of time in both worlds following two different plot-lines that it gave it a more mellow feel than what I kind of expected coming into the book. When the parts finally do come together, it doesn't really feel very dangerous and the resolution felt somewhat easy in the end. That being said for a big book, this reads quite easily which is always a plus and as someone who is studying Japanese at the moment, the huge amount of sentences and Japanese terms written in romaji everywhere was actually pretty fun. The characters to me were just okay, I felt neutral to the majority of them more so than full on like or dislike by the end. Although, I will still say there is an ehhh side to both protagonists. Concerning Cybelle, while I won't say much about the human side, there is a big question mark surrounding her ties with the demon side and how that came to be which I didn't find an answer to in the book and to be honest, it sort of bummed me out as it felt way too interesting to be left out. Zaniel on the other hand has this weird shifting personality where he's a terrified of his shadow in some instances and then he's very confident which left me feeling jarred. I can ignore all of the above nitpicks, the only big big criticism that I have here that weighed in on my enjoyment was the language used in the book. Despite the setting being in Japan, where 99% of the cast were Japanese, I never felt that I was reading about Japanese people. Yes, there is an abundance of romaji and terminology, but there was a constant feeling of the west here which I didn't think fit at all. I'm not western myself nor live in a western society, but I could not think of anything other than the societies or communities I watched on TV when reading this book and I didn't like that. All in all, I do think it's got an interesting premise and an interesting progression, but there are still a few things that eventually weighed on my enjoyment.

  12. 4 out of 5

    kat (wroughtofbooks)

    The cover and summary of this story really drew me in! But ultimately I found myself getting distracted while reading, which generally happens for me when I'm not properly invested in a story. I think there's something really special here, but I just couldn't get into the execution. This book was offered to me through NetGalley, the resulting review is my own. The cover and summary of this story really drew me in! But ultimately I found myself getting distracted while reading, which generally happens for me when I'm not properly invested in a story. I think there's something really special here, but I just couldn't get into the execution. This book was offered to me through NetGalley, the resulting review is my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paris That Introvert Reader

    Hello, and welcome back to That Introvert Reader (unless this is your first time on my blog, in which case, welcome)! Today is an important day, because I am finally going to finish my metaphorical pile of ARC reviews. Full review at my blog https://thatintrovertreader.blogspot.... Hello, and welcome back to That Introvert Reader (unless this is your first time on my blog, in which case, welcome)! Today is an important day, because I am finally going to finish my metaphorical pile of ARC reviews. Full review at my blog https://thatintrovertreader.blogspot....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Faeeja Humaira Meem

    This story's cover and synopsis pulled me in immediately! But, eventually, I became sidetracked while reading, which is something that occurs to me when I'm not fully involved in a book. I believe there is something truly unique here, but I couldn't get into it. Yume is difficult to put into a genre or sub-genre since it seemed like a fascinating mash-up of diverse ones that don't always work well together. The author, on the other hand, makes it work in this case by including many points of view This story's cover and synopsis pulled me in immediately! But, eventually, I became sidetracked while reading, which is something that occurs to me when I'm not fully involved in a book. I believe there is something truly unique here, but I couldn't get into it. Yume is difficult to put into a genre or sub-genre since it seemed like a fascinating mash-up of diverse ones that don't always work well together. The author, on the other hand, makes it work in this case by including many points of view into the story. If you are a fan of the Japanese stories, or more specifically, the Japanese anime with yokai (supernatural monsters and spirits in Japanese folklore) such as Noragami, Kamisama Hajimashita, and Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha, you will see the application of the spiritual world into a more contemporary style in the book and even enjoy the whimsy of the dream world Anipare creates. The book also takes a closer look at what a foreigner, particularly a person of colour, would experience in that country. There is a lot of emphasis on racism towards people of color, cultural differences, and workplace dynamics, which I felt was a unique perspective on the issue. Anipare creates a sophisticated Japanese fantasy that carries readers across reality and the world of dreams. Cybelle is a Canadian who lives in Japan and teaches English. Zaniel, a young man with the ability to travel between reality and the dream world, spends his nights assisting Akki, a demon. As she gets engulfed in this fantasy realm, Cybelle must fight for her survival. The story was in two parts, and while the second part picks up its pace, the first part was rather slow and mostly devoted to world-building. I love a good world-building, but even the character Cybelle felt rather uninteresting and her POV isn't as engaging. Given her unpleasant and friendless experience, Cybelle feels conflicted about going home, but we don't get any insight into why. I definitely missed a lot of nuance because of the TON of Japanese. It wasn't only the names of foods or creatures, which is honestly fine for me since I already read up on these regularly; but whole conversations would take place entirely in Japanese, with no translation or background to assist interpretation. I had to use Papago a lot when reading the book. Otherwise a great novel, but I personally found the representation of the Japanese culture too harsh and the writing style wasn't doing it for me! Regardless, I would like to thank the publisher for providing me for an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Very interesting story! I don't know anything about Japanese mythology or anime, but this story did have a bit of a Spirited Away vibe. I don't know anything about Japanese culture either, so after reading this I'm not sure if this is what a typical foreigner's experience would be. There's a lot going on here, from corporate culture, relationships with coworkers and managers, parenting philosophy, night life, festivals at shrines, and what is considered acceptable social interaction. This book p Very interesting story! I don't know anything about Japanese mythology or anime, but this story did have a bit of a Spirited Away vibe. I don't know anything about Japanese culture either, so after reading this I'm not sure if this is what a typical foreigner's experience would be. There's a lot going on here, from corporate culture, relationships with coworkers and managers, parenting philosophy, night life, festivals at shrines, and what is considered acceptable social interaction. This book paints a picture of people who are, in general, tremendously and blatantly racist, anti-foreigner, and misogynist . The coworkers in particular are both aggressively discriminatory and hostile, yet also fearful and timid. Children, in general, seem to run amok with no discipline at all from their parents (though really we only saw mothers). It was perfectly acceptable for preschoolers to punch and scratch each other, their teachers, their parents. Parents took no responsibility and only superficial remorse at this behavior. No punishments of any kind toward children occurred, only encouragements and stickers. As adult employees there's a huge emphasis on obedience, but very little on creating a congenial environment or providing good or consistent leadership. One can expect to be ridiculed and manipulated by one's coworkers openly and without repercussion. Maybe this is only supposed to have been occurring in the two workplaces we see, but the matter-of-fact portrayal makes it seem it's more widespread. Given what a hostile and friendless experience Cybelle is having she is torn about returning home, but we're not really given any insight into why that might be the case. I probably missed a good amount of nuance, give that there was a TON of Japanese.. It wasn't just names of food or monsters, entire dialogs would happen entirely in Japanese with no translation or context to aid understanding. I Googled some of it, but since I'm not trying to learn Japanese that quickly became tiresome. I did really like Cybelle and Zaniel, the two main characters, and the story did follow a good pace and come to a very satisfying concusion. There was some random cruelty at the end which seemed out of place, but maybe that's typical for anime. So, very interesting story, relatable and likable characters, good character development, possibly insightful into Japanese culture, and a definitely unique portrayal of a black Canadian woman working as an English teacher in Japan with some interference from demons and monsters.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Reading Our Shelves

    Full review at: https://readingourshelves.com/2021/09... Our main characters are Cybelle and Zaniel, although they don’t officially meet each other until the middle of the book. Cybelle is a black woman, originally from Canada, who has been teaching English in Japan for a handful of years now. Zaniel has a day job that is unimportant to the story… but by night, he finds human women for his boss, a demanding yokai named Akki. How gorgeous is this cover?! The world of yokai (mythical creatures of all Full review at: https://readingourshelves.com/2021/09... Our main characters are Cybelle and Zaniel, although they don’t officially meet each other until the middle of the book. Cybelle is a black woman, originally from Canada, who has been teaching English in Japan for a handful of years now. Zaniel has a day job that is unimportant to the story… but by night, he finds human women for his boss, a demanding yokai named Akki. How gorgeous is this cover?! The world of yokai (mythical creatures of all shapes, sizes, and abilities) has been rocked recently by the arrival of a new creature. She grows larger and more powerful by eating – and she can also turn anything she wants into food to eat. At one point this includes Akki’s house, which puts her immediately at odds with the hot-tempered elder yokai. Meanwhile, Cybelle is struggling to decide whether or not to renew her contract at the English school. The kids and parents are mostly ok, but she only gets along with one of her co-workers. She still feels like an outsider, at work and out in the world, even though she’s lived in Japan for over five years. SEMI-SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT! The new yokai eating her way through the dream world is Cybelle, when she’s asleep. I say this is a semi-spoiler because I felt like it was fairly evident from early on… but Cybelle herself doesn’t understand it until the end of the story. Zaniel, being well-versed in yokai, figures out the new yokai’s identity much earlier. This is what brings him to Cybelle’s school, acting like he’s applying for a job. He really wants to get to know her real life persona, and thinks that they can help each other. Their adventures together are wild – both the ones they take in person, and in the mythical dream world. This is where the book really starts gaining speed, in my opinion. As Akki comes after them, and they need to fight to save themselves, things also start to get pretty gruesome.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Martin Lukanov

    As a person who's been obsessed with Japan and Japanese culture for the majority of his life and has experienced what being a foreigner in Asia is, Sifton Anipare's debut "Yume" should've been the perfect book for me. And yet, almost nothing in it managed to grab my interest. There are quite a few reasons for that, I think. The first is the fact that the Anipare's novel is incredibly long but at the same time, not all that exciting or interesting. It's pretty telling when the most interesting as As a person who's been obsessed with Japan and Japanese culture for the majority of his life and has experienced what being a foreigner in Asia is, Sifton Anipare's debut "Yume" should've been the perfect book for me. And yet, almost nothing in it managed to grab my interest. There are quite a few reasons for that, I think. The first is the fact that the Anipare's novel is incredibly long but at the same time, not all that exciting or interesting. It's pretty telling when the most interesting aspects of a 500+ page tome are the diary-like chapters in which the main character, an English teacher in Japan, recalls her days at work. What makes them engaging, as opposed to the "fantasy" ones set in a dream world is the fact that they simply feel believable. It's as if they are taken from the direct experiences of the author, who worked as an English teacher in Japan, too, whereas everything else, all of the yokai and dream-world based scenes (I call them scenes because they don't really have much of a narrative or logic that connects them) are there just as a filler. Or because Anipare wanted to give her debut some kind of an "edge" or who knows what. The second reason the fact that though the novel takes place in Japan and is supposed to be kind of based on the traditional beliefs there, all of them seem somewhat ornamental, like they are put just to be cool or to entice Japan-lovers to buy the book. None of the Japan-specific yokai seem to play a particularly important role for the development of the story, nor is the idea of monsters invading and controlling dreams specific for the archipelago. It's something we can see pretty much everywhere, even Disney/Pixar stuff... And finally, the writing is so unengaging that it made me fight myself to continue reading this bore of a book. To be honest, many a time I wished it was around half the size and only about the author's experiences in Japan. I don't regret reading "Yume" but I can't recommend it to anyone.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caffeinated Covers

    Yume is a book that doesn’t fit neatly into a particular category, and that’s what makes it special. It’s a little slice of life story that converges with whimsy horror and Japanese folklore. We follow an African-Canadian woman named Cybelle who teaches English in Japan, and a man named Zaniel who is bi-racial and helps a boar god named Akki pick up women. Their stories seem completely separate, and theirs characters also seem very different, but their stories and wants end up being very similar Yume is a book that doesn’t fit neatly into a particular category, and that’s what makes it special. It’s a little slice of life story that converges with whimsy horror and Japanese folklore. We follow an African-Canadian woman named Cybelle who teaches English in Japan, and a man named Zaniel who is bi-racial and helps a boar god named Akki pick up women. Their stories seem completely separate, and theirs characters also seem very different, but their stories and wants end up being very similar. Without spoilers, both deal with being outsiders and deal with people trying to hurt them. There are definitely some racial issues with how they are both treated in Japanese culture. This book has a strong literary vibe where it uses the way the characters interact with this society (both the present day real life Japan and the dream world where the gods and demons live) to show these issues. And while it’s not spoon fed to the reader, the context is not buried under layers of meaning that completely hide it from the reader. It’s a story with a strong plot and thematic undertones that are accessible to its readers. I really liked how this was a story that was literary, but still a page turner. I also enjoyed that this book was original instead of reading like a recycled mix of tropes. I empathized with the characters and rooted for them until the end. However, even though the pacing was great through most of the book, there were some parts that dragged in the slice of life parts in the middle of the story. These parts did end up building up to the climax and were necessary, but at the time I wished they were a little more concise.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nico Bell

    Anipare weaves a Japanese fantasy that transports readers through reality and the dream world. Cybelle is a Canadian teaching English in Japan. Zaniel, is a young man with the ability to walk between the reality and the dream world, spends his nights aiding a demon named Akki. When Cybelle gets caught up in this fanatasy world, she must fight for survival. This book opens a whole new world to readers. Those unfamiliar with yokai (supernatural monsters and spirits in Japanese folklore) will enjoy Anipare weaves a Japanese fantasy that transports readers through reality and the dream world. Cybelle is a Canadian teaching English in Japan. Zaniel, is a young man with the ability to walk between the reality and the dream world, spends his nights aiding a demon named Akki. When Cybelle gets caught up in this fanatasy world, she must fight for survival. This book opens a whole new world to readers. Those unfamiliar with yokai (supernatural monsters and spirits in Japanese folklore) will enjoy the whimsy of the dream world Anipare creates. The story is divided into several parts, as well as two point-of-views. Zaniel's POV is largely based in this yokai world, which makes these sections of the story full of imaginative descriptions mixed with nightmares and demons of Japanese folklore. The Cybelle POV is less engaging. While the pacing of the story picks up in Part 2, Part 1 is devoted to world building, which is useful in the yokai reality, but not as fascinating in Cybelle's daily life. Her scenes often slow the pace, contained repetitive and disjointed dialogue, and focused on mundane details of her work. This trend follows through much of the story, with the dream-like world creating vivid monsters and capturing reader's attention, and Cybelle's daily life being the opposite. Readers who are interested in trying something new and exploring Japanese folklore in a fantasy setting should give this book a try. While it may not work for some readers, others may settle into the pace with ease and enjoyment.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Thank you Dundurn Publishers for granting me access to this boos as an E-ARC via Netgalley. All opinions are my own. Drawn in by the very colourful cover and the premise of Japanese folklore in a modern day setting I jumped into pressing “request” over at Netgalley. I thought I would like it because I find Japanese mythology and folklore extremely interesting and so different from my native Swedish folklore. But, it turns out I didn’t really enjoy the book that much. The book has three different Thank you Dundurn Publishers for granting me access to this boos as an E-ARC via Netgalley. All opinions are my own. Drawn in by the very colourful cover and the premise of Japanese folklore in a modern day setting I jumped into pressing “request” over at Netgalley. I thought I would like it because I find Japanese mythology and folklore extremely interesting and so different from my native Swedish folklore. But, it turns out I didn’t really enjoy the book that much. The book has three different POV-characters, and I will write mostly about one of them – Cybelle, a Canadian black woman working as an English teacher in Japan. I had a hard time understanding WHY she did want to be a teacher at that particular workplace as she seemed to really dislike both her co-workers, her boss and the children she taught. I understand why as the management did seem to be extremely toxic – like changing her schedule constantly, moving around her classes without telling her, not letting her eat lunch. The other POVs were centred around a group of yokai – but to be honest I mostly skimmed their parts as I didn’t find them interesting. All in all, I did not really enjoy this book. I wish I could have.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica F

    Cybelle is Canadian but has lived in Japan for the past 6.5 years teaching English lessons at a tutoring school for kids. Zaniel is a dream walker who is bound to help the demon Nightmare King, Akki in exchange for protection from other demons. A new demon, the Yokai, shows up in dreamland and shakes things up for Akki, which makes him angry. Cybelle and Zaniel's paths cross in the real world and they must work together to help the Yokai defeat Akki and free Zaniel from being duty-bound to serve Cybelle is Canadian but has lived in Japan for the past 6.5 years teaching English lessons at a tutoring school for kids. Zaniel is a dream walker who is bound to help the demon Nightmare King, Akki in exchange for protection from other demons. A new demon, the Yokai, shows up in dreamland and shakes things up for Akki, which makes him angry. Cybelle and Zaniel's paths cross in the real world and they must work together to help the Yokai defeat Akki and free Zaniel from being duty-bound to serve him. The beginning of this book is fairly boring and confusing. The story is told from Cybelle's POV and also the POV of Zaniel/Akki. One told in 1st person narrative and the other told in 3rd person narrative. I understand this was to showcase the difference between real world and dreamland, but I personally wish it was all written in one style. Right away you are thrown into the demon/dreamworld without a lot of explanation, and as dreams go it is a strange world. Cybelle's story is mundane and feels flat until she meets Zaniel and begins to experience the dreamland. Cybelle does experience a lot of microaggressions in Japan, which is based off the author's personal experiences. I wasn't hooked until I was about 40% in, and this is a long book. That being said, once the story picked it up it was a constant wild ride that I didn't want to put down. It read like a fever dream - the chaotic, randomness was so well done it almost started to make sense at the end. Heads up this book does have some gruesome scenes and is fairly violent.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Desi Wolff-Myren

    Yum by Sifton Tracey Anipare is a story set in Japan that follows Zaniel, a man that can dream-walk and Cybelle, a Canadian English teacher. The first chapters with Zaniel really pulled me in. I was intrigued how the world of dreams and yokai was going to be expanded. But the first couple chapters of Cybelle’s story slowed me down. It seemed to be two very different stories that had no connection. I was also struggling to connect with Cybelle’s story. It wasn’t until something dawned on me. Of c Yum by Sifton Tracey Anipare is a story set in Japan that follows Zaniel, a man that can dream-walk and Cybelle, a Canadian English teacher. The first chapters with Zaniel really pulled me in. I was intrigued how the world of dreams and yokai was going to be expanded. But the first couple chapters of Cybelle’s story slowed me down. It seemed to be two very different stories that had no connection. I was also struggling to connect with Cybelle’s story. It wasn’t until something dawned on me. Of course, this is the story of a Black woman teaching English in Japan, being an other, a foreigner, a demon… I connected the dots and the story pulled me in. The writing in this story is very well done. The descriptions were vivid and made me hungry (you’ll see…). I didn’t understand a few plot points but perhaps upon a second reading they would connect. I also feel like there could be a potential follow up that could further explain. Overall, a really great read! Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book to review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dionne (HeyoitsDeej)

    This definitely became a really unexpected read for me. The premise of the book came from two different narrators. Cybelle the teacher and Zaniel, the one that walks through dreams. On a general whole this story has very good potential to be this fantasy/adventure that mixes in the modern world. However, it did felt like it dragged while the shifting of the two main characters felt really off for me. There's just this off-balance to the story that I kinda wished could've been made better. As some This definitely became a really unexpected read for me. The premise of the book came from two different narrators. Cybelle the teacher and Zaniel, the one that walks through dreams. On a general whole this story has very good potential to be this fantasy/adventure that mixes in the modern world. However, it did felt like it dragged while the shifting of the two main characters felt really off for me. There's just this off-balance to the story that I kinda wished could've been made better. As someone who's really into fantasy and likes the rich folklores of other countries, this novel really is a nice start for those new to the concept of the Japanese folklore elements. It has that kind of anime action kind of vibe with Zaniel's parts of the book however, I felt like Cybelle's perspective could've been given more excitement to it. It's an okay read, but to be really honest, I didn't fully care for the characters because of how dragging the story turned out. I'd still like to thank NetGalley for giving me an E-ARC copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zasika

    Cybelle, an English teacher in Japan finds herself caught in a demon-filled dreamworld where everything is edible. She meets the delectable Zaniel, who is more than he seems. Yume is a fun and fascinating book, filled to the brim with food references that's enough to make your own mouth water. However, a number of things were thrown around but not really answered, such as: why is Cybelle and the Yokai the one and same entity? I'd understand that Zaniel has some ties into the dreamworld because h Cybelle, an English teacher in Japan finds herself caught in a demon-filled dreamworld where everything is edible. She meets the delectable Zaniel, who is more than he seems. Yume is a fun and fascinating book, filled to the brim with food references that's enough to make your own mouth water. However, a number of things were thrown around but not really answered, such as: why is Cybelle and the Yokai the one and same entity? I'd understand that Zaniel has some ties into the dreamworld because he's half Japanese and a "dream walker", but Cybelle, as mentioned numerous times ad nauseum, is a "gaijin", so how did she end up being a Yokai, with full-on capitals? Also, wasn't in favour of Akki's foul mouth and misogyny. I was half-tempted to DNF this book due to this character, but I really enjoyed Cybelle and Zaniel's chemistry, so I let it slide. Many thanks to Dundurn Press and the author for the ARC. I enjoyed the book!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mitchie Rainbow

    I would love to thank Dundurn Press and NetGalley for giving this eARC in an exchange for an honest review. I loved the environment of this story. It had a whimsical dreamlike quality to it which in my opinion is very fitting to this book. The writing was also good and fit the aesthethic of the story, i thought her writing gave the book a cinematic feel. I thought this book was too long. It took hundreds of pages to get into the actual plot and because of this i feel like it affected character de I would love to thank Dundurn Press and NetGalley for giving this eARC in an exchange for an honest review. I loved the environment of this story. It had a whimsical dreamlike quality to it which in my opinion is very fitting to this book. The writing was also good and fit the aesthethic of the story, i thought her writing gave the book a cinematic feel. I thought this book was too long. It took hundreds of pages to get into the actual plot and because of this i feel like it affected character development, the climax and the resolution because when those elements came in, i was left with a sense of "is that it?" And i was very left very unsatisfied.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Louise Page

    I do not even know where to start on this book, it was all just so so good. The Authors style is smooth, easy to read and it means I was eating through the pages before I even knew what time it was. The story was something the likes of which I had never read before, and I loved it. I learned something of Japanese culture, as well as being totally entertained in the process. The horror aspects were nicely done, descriptive without being too over the top. I can not wait for any future books from thi I do not even know where to start on this book, it was all just so so good. The Authors style is smooth, easy to read and it means I was eating through the pages before I even knew what time it was. The story was something the likes of which I had never read before, and I loved it. I learned something of Japanese culture, as well as being totally entertained in the process. The horror aspects were nicely done, descriptive without being too over the top. I can not wait for any future books from this author.

  27. 5 out of 5

    cait

    I am a known fan of translated & Asian fiction. I have zero problem with languages I don't understand being utilized in a story, as long as I can understand what it is saying through translation or context clues. Unfortunately, after 42 pages, I was bored out of my mind, completely disinterested in the characters, & had no idea what all the Romanized Japanese was supposed to say, because I got really tired of putting the book down to Google translate every 15 seconds. Very disappointed. Will be re I am a known fan of translated & Asian fiction. I have zero problem with languages I don't understand being utilized in a story, as long as I can understand what it is saying through translation or context clues. Unfortunately, after 42 pages, I was bored out of my mind, completely disinterested in the characters, & had no idea what all the Romanized Japanese was supposed to say, because I got really tired of putting the book down to Google translate every 15 seconds. Very disappointed. Will be returning my copy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kaffeeklatsch and Books

    DNF at 15%. I really disliked the writing style. It felt clunky and weird. I felt the story line was too loose and I got majorly confused with the different yokai, as none of them got any other names than yokai. Also, I know some Japanese, but there's too much untranslated for me to enjoy reading the book. Footnotes might have helped. This didn't meet my expectations. Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. DNF at 15%. I really disliked the writing style. It felt clunky and weird. I felt the story line was too loose and I got majorly confused with the different yokai, as none of them got any other names than yokai. Also, I know some Japanese, but there's too much untranslated for me to enjoy reading the book. Footnotes might have helped. This didn't meet my expectations. Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Enid Wray

    Sci-Fi/Fantasy are never my first pick - ever - and if they are going to work for me it has to grab me right off the bat. While the cover had me from the moment I saw it, sadly the text did not. I found the beginning to be very confusing, the pacing to be wildly varied (for no seeming purpose), and the writing just didn’t connect for me, largely but not solely because there was much - much - more editing that needed to be done - to tighten up the telling.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anna T. (despasurlesable)

    I would like to thank the publisher of Acrobat for providing me for an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley. I was drawn to this book because it was about yokai. Unfortunately the writing style and the plot didn't grab my attention. I would like to thank the publisher of Acrobat for providing me for an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley. I was drawn to this book because it was about yokai. Unfortunately the writing style and the plot didn't grab my attention.

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