Highly Recommended





Earthlings is about Natsuki who survives a plethora of trauma by believing herself to be an alien from a planet called Popinpobopia. She lives in her delusions together with her cousin Yuu. They promise to each other to “survive, whatever it takes” to avoid becoming a part of the ‘factory’, an analogy for society. Because of the profound trauma Natsuki faces, she decides to commit as many taboo sins as possible to disassociate herself from being human because of the way humans have treated her.



Yikes this story is really not meant for the faint of heart, and luckily I’m rarely icked in literature (unless it's vomiting and guts and stuff, yeah). I’m always impressed by authors who push the limits and tackle really taboo ideas. Yes, Sayaka Murata really searched for every taboo and put it all into one book. The adorable cover was a great misdirect. I thought it was some cute little alien story. I WAS WRONG.

It’s quite disturbing, but I found that it's written in such a way that makes the disturbing scenes easier to read. This book did not shy away from being graphically detailed with every scene.

Murata is a true master at balancing the normalcy of daily life with morbidities. A perfect example of the unbelievable horrors of this world and of the system society expects. Loved the commentary on society or the "factory" which served to demonstrate how society creates monsters of people.

I appreciated the allegories around disassociation/protecting oneself from abuse and how that shows up differently in different individuals etc. It was horrifying, and the abuse was harrowing. But I was incredibly drawn into Natsuki's story. It’s a book about trauma, but it's not written in a glamorous or redemptive way. Rather, it shows the desperation to survive and defy society and its norms by acting out in horrifying and depraved ways. Natsuki is so fixated on separating herself from society, which has only been traumatising and dehumanising. She tries to break as many taboos as she can in order to prove, mostly to herself, that she isn't human, because to her, all humans are these vile people who take advantage of her, don't listen to her, abuse and use her. She refuses to be a ‘human’- a ‘human’ under the rule of society, and thus alienates herself further from normalcy and inane humanity.

The ending is quite literally the most horrifying six pages I’ve ever read in quick succession. It's depraved but also the only way I think Murata could’ve topped the sheer insanity of this story. Though I felt it was kind of a rush, mostly done so for the shock factor, I wished (?) that it was more fleshed out. I would love to actually read more about how far Nasuki, Yuu, and her husband had fallen and the consequences that they eventually have to face. It is taboo, gross, inhumane, and yet it will never replicate the cruelty and horror that society has created and imparted on its very own earthlings.

Originally, I had capped this review at 4.5 stars on 21/6/22. However, the content and the message of the book continued to stick with me which eventually led me to reread it and round it up to 5 stars.

I will preface by saying that this book is not for everyone. It contains very graphic descriptions of horrible situations. Please read the content and trigger warnings for this book! It contains almost all of it!


Book Details

Highly recommended
Published: 08 October 2020
Page Count: 247 pages

Highly Recommended

Content Warning Summary

  • Cannibalism
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual Assault