For general information on this series: Book Girl entry
This review is for the second volume of Book Girl by Mizuki Nomura (with art by Miho Takeoka). The English edition was released by Yen Press in January 2011, and the entirety of the eight-volume series has been localized.
I have decided to begin reviewing more volumes of various light novel series (i.e. novels following the first volume), so that will give me another backlog to work on! As you can guess, I will start here with the second entry in the Book Girl series.
Book Girl and the Famished Spirit is a self-contained story much like the first book, but it continues to develop the main characters as well as a couple side characters who previously had less pertinent roles. The mystery in this installment ensues when the literature club begins to receive cryptic messages filled with ominous phrases and strings of numbers. As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent a tormented and foreboding ghost is lurking the school hallways–a possibility the protagonist Konoha doesn’t find so unlikely, given how his senpai Tohko (the club president) is a book-gobbling yokai.
Though the plot structure of this story is largely focused on mystery, the heart of the novel lies in its character-driven drama. Konoha is a quiet boy filled with regret and longing for the past, who finds himself caught up in the passionate drama that ensues among a much more headstrong cast of characters. Over the ensuing chapters, a number of characters begin to reveal their true feelings for one another: varying degrees of hate and/or love–and Konoha has to wrestle with the questions of which emotion is stronger, and which can drive a person to go to greater lengths. It’s a setup that proves highly effective for a number of conflicts that take progressively tragic turns, making Famished Spirit an overall more dramatic affair than Suicidal Mime.
As was the case in that book, there is a work of classic literature that plays a central role here too, though this time its identity is used for a big reveal toward the end. And just as its predecessor dived into a variety of serious topics, Famished Spirit manages to incorporate issues as diverse as severe familial expectations, eating disorders, the difficulty of facing one’s fears, and loss of personal identity. In other words, if you liked Suicidal Mime, you will probably like Famished Spirit. Give the series a try if you are interested in high school mysteries, classic literature, strong character development, or a combination of the three.
Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended