The central plot is the murder of a mother by her son, but the real story is the response to this murder by a clique of four teenage girls. Full of angst and despair, they become involved in the aftermath of this horrific event.
The story is told by five alternating first person narratives, that of a boy (the murderer) and four girls (the clique). This constantly shifting point of view is quite jarring, but in the context of the story this is probably a very appropriate technique. The story is jarring. The events in the story are so extreme that they seem unreal, but those events are more real than the superficial everyday lives of the adults.
There are two worlds in Real World. The superficial adult world and the angsty, nihilistic adolescent world. The adults can not connect with each other because of superficiality. The teens struggle to escape the superficial burdens of adulthood being forced upon them creating alienation and hostility between the generations. The teens are unable to connect with each other as they hide their true selves thinking that no one would truly understand them. There is a complete disconnection between any of the characters. I kept thinking of E.M Forster and "only connect" as I read Real World. I know I'm taking that phrase out of context, but if the characters could only connect ....
The atmosphere of Real World is oppressive. I would label this novel as extreme noir and, unlike Out, Kirino never breaks up this story with black comedy. The nihilism in Real World was almost unbearable and I really couldn't wait to get to the end of the story. I am glad I read to the end though ... there is a glimmer of hope.