Remarkable ... What Yokoyama has produced is an astonishing innovation: a journalism procedural that reads with the thrilling immediacy of a crime novel ... what makes this book a compelling page-turner is the sincere front-line authenticity with which he depicts reporters struggling to get their story out and do their job well ... It might sound like a flimsy premise for a thrilling page-turner, but Yokoyama turns it into a masterpiece ... Moral and logistical dilemmas faced by the reporters turn into nail-biting page-turners ... a thrilling, thought-provoking, and important book, and one for anyone who cares about the state of journalism.
With its steady pace and large cast of characters, this is a thriller only in the loosest sense and demands patience. As in the earlier Six Four, Yokoyama carefully structures his novel to provide an astringent, unforgiving picture of modern Japanese society.
Seventeen is best described as 'newsroom noir,' and put in the same category as films like The Post and Spotlight, but minus the scandalous exposés. What Yokoyama has written is, ultimately, more than your standard thriller. True to form, he has created a meditative and multilayered narrative that is as much about a man at a mid-life crossroads as it is about journalism or a plane crash ... it all makes for surprisingly riveting reading. For those who enjoy geeking out on esoteric procedural details, there’s plenty of that as well. Yokoyama puts his past to good use, extracting an impressive amount of tension from descriptions of a newsroom in which 'war had broken out.' He relays essential information quickly and concisely, establishing the stakes early on ... transitions act like a pressure valve releasing steam, but they also help to propel the plot forward, providing much of the emotional closure in what is ultimately a very sentimental, and occasionally quite sappy, novel ... But for all its sentimentality, there is a remarkable amount of genuine feeling to be found in these pages. Yokoyama has written characters everyone can relate to.