For the first week of this summer reading program, we will discuss the first third of The Isolator (volume 1) and Twilight-Colored Song User (volume 1). For The Isolator, you need to have read the prologue and first four chapters (ending at page 50). Meanwhile for Song User, you need to have read the prologue and first two chapters.
If you have read further ahead, please refrain from spoiling anything past the points in the stories mentioned above.
I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this novel, since I couldn’t get into Reki Kawahara’s other stories (Sword Art Online, Accel World) — but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with this one so far. The Isolator may be a bit by-the-numbers in some ways, but I like how Minoru’s character has been handled. Loss of family is a common element of protagonist back-stories in many books (and anime, manga, etc), but The Isolator is taking its time to delve into the effects that can have on a young person. I’ve found Minoru easy to sympathize with, but I also think his thoughts and feelings can be easy to relate to as well–perhaps especially for teens during a time of downtroddenness.
Much of young adult fiction can be characterized by a degree of drama that some would call emotional, while others would label it as “emo.” Where in this spectrum do you feel The Isolator lies? Is the presence of angst automatically a deterrent to a story’s quality?
The Isolator shows how Minoru deals with his trauma by trying to forget the past and cut off all ties with others. How well do you feel he has managed over the years? How does Minoru’s day-to-day compare to how others work through depression? I also find the situation interesting to compare to last month’s Kagerou Daze, which featured a character who (on the surface, at least) seemed to manage this more thoroughly by living as a shut-in. Could you consider Minoru a shut-in mentally, as it were?
How do you feel about the quality of the story’s prose itself? I would like to hear opinions from readers of Sword Art Online and Accel World, to get an idea of how The Isolator‘s writing might compare to the author’s more famous works.
Twilight-Colored Song User
The concept of a magical school is nothing new in the world of young adult fiction, but so far I’m finding Sazane Kei’s take on the concept to be an engaging one–albeit a bit more slower-paced than I typically care for. There’s a lot still being set up though, and I’m willing to keep reading to see where things lead for Kluele, Mio, and Neight.
How well are you following the magic system? Or all the characters? So far I’m finding Song User a bit of a denser read, though perhaps not to the extent of a regular fantasy novel. (We are still working with what is essentially a high school setting, after all.) At the moment I feel the author could do a bit more to show the use of Recitations and the place of magic in the world, but perhaps this is simply an instance where readers ought to use their imagination a bit and fill in the gaps themselves.
I find the setup with the various characters to be fairly unique for a light novel (and perhaps for the anime/manga world in general). The prologue begins with two characters, but then we have a time skip for the book to focus on its real main characters. Did you find this jarring? As for the main characters, I’m already liking the interactions between Kluele, Mio, and Neight–in some ways this sort of trio is unusual as well, I feel (particularly in regard to the age gap between Kluele and Neight).
Do you relate more to Kluele or to Neight? I feel I’ve generally lived more like Kluele, just drifting by and not really aspiring to as much as I probably should, ha ha. But how do you feel about the advice of setting (extremely) lofty goals? Evhemary achieved her goal to create “Night Color” (though kept it secret?), while Xins managed to master all five of the fundamental Colors. Is this level of success something Kluele or Neight could hope to emulate?
Just want to mention I love the art in this story–but that should come as no surprise, since this is the same artist who drew the illustrations for Book Girl and When Hikaru Was On the Earth. Be sure to take the time to appreciate the artwork!
As mentioned before, feel free to discuss any point you would like to bring up about either (or both) of these two books. General impressions, predictions for how the stories will play out, some compare/contrast between the two books, or any random observations and things you’d like to analyze are all fair game.