Longing to escape his island home, a boy named Hodaka runs away during his first summer of high school to find a new life in Tokyo. As rain falls for days on end and Hodaka struggles to adjust, he meets a girl named Hina who holds a mysterious power: With a single prayer, she can part the clouds and bring back the sun. But her power comes at a price, and as the weather spirals further and further out of control, they must choose what future they truly want for themselves.
Written concurrently with production of the 2019 film Weathering With You, this novel comes straight from director Makoto Shinkai, the mind behind 2016’s hit your name.!
I always find these books the hardest to review. Makoto Shinkai is the director of multiple movies such as Your Name and now Weathering With You. In 2017, I read the light novel of Your Name and adored it so much – you can see my review here. But the difference here is I think there was much more time between me watching the Your Name movie and reading the light novel. This time, I only watched Weathering With You around a month ago, so reading the light novel with it so fresh in my mind was a little strange. I’m going to attempt to summarise my thoughts on this book, but I also believe I will naturally struggle to separate the two and may discuss both.
Makoto Shinkai, you’ve done it again. I fell in love with this story just as much as I did with Your Name. Although both stories are a little dark, I saw the contrast between them almost instantly. A major focus of Weathering is environmental and climate change, but it also immediately explores difficult family relationships, homelessness and mentions gun crime and the difficulties young girls face on the streets. Watching the film, I was a little shocked. The dark undertones of this story were not quite expected, and gave a much different narrative for me than that of the familiar Your Name.
However, the story quickly picks up and we see our main character meet the 100% sunshine girl, and a magical realism compelling fantasy tale emerges. Even if I didn’t always love all of the characters in this book, I appreciated them for what they were, including Keisuke. I loved that the book gives cameos to both Taki and Mitsuha from Your Name, and they’re in the movie too, if a little harder to spot.
Hodaka and Hina both grow and have a strange coming of age story among all the madness they face. Seeing them face their own challenges together and apart warmed my heart, and I ended up tearing up at the movie and the book. Even Hina’s little brother, Keisuke’s daughter and the cat ended up having a special place in my heart.
My only difficulty (other than separating my thoughts between the movie and the light novel), is that this book often left me questioning who was narrating. We follow more than two characters, and there isn’t any chapter or section headings to indicate the switches, neither is the tone all that different. It left me muddled and I found the book hard to follow in parts.
Overall, the story of Weathering With You was compelling, emotional and romantic. I can’t say whether it surpassed or matched Your Name for me, but rather I think it holds a different piece of me all together, a piece just as treasured.
4 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽