For general information on this series: Zaregoto entry
This review is for the first volume of the Zaregoto Series by Nisio Isin (with art by Take). The English edition was released by Del Rey in July 2008. The second volume was localized in December 2010, but there has since been no word regarding the remaining seven books.
That said, Zaregoto: The Kubikiri Cycle is a nice read and works just fine as a self-contained mystery story. Perhaps what stands out the most in this is Nisio Isin’s approach to writing–there’s a very “stream of consciousness” style to it, meaning most pages are filled with long paragraphs (and the book in general is longer than your average light novel). It’s a dense read, but the translator (Greg Moore) did a good job ensuring everything flows smoothly, and I enjoyed all the philosophical banter the characters engaged in.
A little background on the story: Akagami Iria, the exiled daughter of an extremely affluent family, has a small island a ways from Japan where she decides to pass the time by inviting some of Japan’s greatest geniuses to hang out with her. One such genius is the best friend of our protagonist, who is generally called “Ii-chan” (as his real name is left unrevealed). Said friend is Kunagisa Tomo, a computer whiz (pictured on the cover). The remaining members in the cast of prodigies make for an interesting bunch, and I liked the way each of them interacted with the viewpoint character.
Eventually one of the geniuses is murdered, and the majority of the book focuses on how Ii-chan goes about trying to pin down who the culprit could be. It’s an engaging “fish out of water” story on top of a whodunnit, and I felt impressed by the series of big reveals toward the end. Just when you think everything has fallen into place, another plot twist emerges, changing the way you look at all the events that led up to that point.
There were a few elements to the plot that felt forced, and at times the author’s wordiness does get in the way of the story (or at least stands out more than it needs to). But regardless, the novel was still a page-turner, and I overall found it a creative and quirky take on the mystery genre.
Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended