It’s time, once again, for the Monthly Reading Journal! I was looking at my list and realized that over half of the books in this set of five were Light Novels. Furthermore, two of them were actually the third and fourth books in a series which I had started reading last year, before I got my Reading Journal. A special covering all of them seemed the best thing to do. I even threw in one that I read a couple of years ago. It actually turned out rather long, so I decided to split it up a bit. ^-^
Before I go into actually talking about my books, I should probably say a bit about what a Light Novel actually is? Put simply, they are a form of Young Adult fiction in Japan. They generally target middle school and high school aged kids, and are rarely over 50,000 words in length. In fact, some of the shorter ones actually dip into the range of novella. Light Novels found their beginnings in pulp magazines making certain stylistic changes to appeal to their consumer base in the late ’70s; but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that they really took off in popularity. As with many things in Japan, Light Novels eventually found their way to the US. There are actually quite a few series you can find right at Barnes and Nobles now.
A lot of Light Novels are made into manga/anime, as well as live action movies. It’s actually how I discovered them in the first place; looking up information about an anime I really enjoyed. Doubtless, I am not the only one. There’s something extra special about being able to continue a favorite story in some way, to gain more insight into it. And especially so in the case of anime, which often end a bit ambiguously well before the actual print story. Aside from that, most of the ones I’ve read had some pretty good writing too! Not to mention excellent translations. ^-^
On to the list part 1!
Spice & Wolf (Volume #1)
Author: Isuna Hasekura
Illustrator: Ju Ayakura
Published/By: Yen Press
Thoughts: Kraft Lawrence is an intrepid merchant who dreams of owning his own shop one day. Holo is an ancient wolf goddess who is tired of tending to the harvests of a village that seems to have forgotten her. Both are a lot more lonely than they are willing to admit. One night Holo decides to steal away in Lawrence’s cart, in her human (mostly) form, and then… well then suddenly all of your basic fantasy plot elements somehow become woven together with the principals of free market economics! ^-^ I know that sounds unlikely and strange; but I’m pretty sure that Isuna Hasekura is some sort of alchemist, and this story a delightful and fascinating chimera.
Holo and Lawrence are well drawn, and very clever characters. Holo particularly, I really enjoyed. She’s very assertive, very sure of herself, and has the cunning, wisdom, and strength to back those attitudes up. At the same time she makes mistakes, and has this vulnerability that flashes out at odd moments. She just has so much more depth than I expected from her… Never judge a character by her entrance. ^-^
The characters really do drive this story, and they do so at their own pace. I personally never found it to be tedious or frustrating; but it is definitely slow. So, it might not be right for those who are looking for a lot of action. The writing style is also very dialogue heavy. I was actually a bit thrown when I started reading it, because there is almost no description. It was just so different from the books I normally read. After a chapter or two though, I was really enjoying it.
I am really rather sad that I didn’t buy more than one volume of this when they first came out. It was a money thing. Now though, there are 17 volumes all together… That’s a bit daunting for a short-series girl like myself. Someday though! ^-^
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars. (Who knew economics was so intriguing? ^-^)
Log Horizon (Volume #1)
Author: Mamare Touno
Illustrator: Kazuhiro Hara
Published/By: Yen Press
Genre: Kind of straddles the sci-fi/fantasy line
Thoughts: In this story, thousands of MMO players are suddenly transported to the world of the game and deal with all sorts of dilemmas. Among them: actually having monsters right in their face while fighting, NPCs that are suddenly quite human and unscripted, and how exactly will they get home? An interesting difference between Log Horizon and other stories of this type is that the idea of real death entering the game is not introduced. They actually play on the idea that the ‘adventurers’ can’t die, though People of the Land can, and that it comes with it’s own set of problems.
That being said, I did not enjoy the writing in the book… which makes me sad because I love this story. The characters are excellent and the concept is way cool! ^-^ Unfortunately the author keeps repeating information over and over, as if he thinks we can’t remember it. Several times within a chapter even. There is also a some weird formatting with the dialog that rather confused me. You would see two brackets of dialogue by themselves, like so:
“Oh hi there, how are you?”
No names or anything attached. Then the next paragraph would proceed to describe the actions and tone that occompanied speaker one’s words, followed by the same for speaker two… maybe. All of this left me wondering who said what, and often I had to read it over again to be sure. It broke me out of the story completely, very annoying.
It is actually much better when you get into the action. The descriptions are quite good and everything flows smoothly. Also the character bios at the beginning of each chapter are wonderful. Some of them made me laugh a lot.
However, anytime a character gets introspective the above problems return in full force. I just could not enjoy it as much as I wanted to.
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars (An okay companion to the anime, but not super awesome.)
Well, see you tomorrow for part two! It is actually comprised of the only LN series I’ve read multiple volumes of. Similar in basic plot to Log Horizon…(I am a bit of a sucker for a MMO/VRMMO storyline, lol) but vastly different in every other way! It’s called Sword Art Online. ^-^