For general information on this series: Book Girl entry
This review is for the fourth volume of Book Girl by Mizuki Nomura (with art by Miho Takeoka). The English edition was released by Yen Press in January 2012, and the entirety of the eight-volume series has been localized.
I plan to review all eight of the Book Girl novels, but it’s a task I don’t mind taking my time with. Every now and then I will be in the mood to read through one of the series’ volumes once again, and I always find myself loving the experience from start to finish. In this case, when Christmas arrived I couldn’t help but think back upon the fourth title: Book Girl and the Corrupted Angel. I picked up my copy with the intent to just skim through it a bit really quickly, but instead I ended up reading the whole thing in two sittings. Even when I know how the mystery ends, I still find myself surprised by the way everything unfolds somehow.
It is Christmas time, and the eponymous “book girl” Tohko is busy preparing for exams (as she will graduate high school the following April). It is then left to the protagonist Konoha to help solve a mystery when his classmate Nanase Kotobuki shares a sudden dilemma: her friend Yuka from another school has gone missing, potentially lured away by an “angel of music.” What follows is a story that draws many parallels to The Phantom of the Opera–the French novel by Gaston Leroux that would become a famous musical play.
When I learned that the fourth Book Girl story would be associated with The Phantom of the Opera, I decided to read the original novel (or more specifically, its English translation) in preparation. It’s a great read, and I’ll recommend it even to those who are already well-familiar with its film adaptations, as the original work lends a unique experience–one that the characters in Book Girl study out and manage to find holds applicable weight to their own lives. You don’t have to be familiar with the works of literature that are referenced in the Book Girl stories (as the characters go over all pertinent details), but I’ve found myself gravitating toward said works of literature regardless. I’ve always enjoyed books in general, but Tohko’s (and really, Mizuki Nomura’s) insatiable zeal for the classics is truly contagious.
And so I always want to recommend this series to those who have a love for books, as well as to those who really value strong character development. Though the way things play out is just about as theatrical as The Phantom of the Opera, the characters involved in The Corrupted Angel have a great deal of depth that makes them all feel like flawed, real people. There is still more to learn about Konoha, and the setup of this tale does well to offer further examination into his fragile psyche. At the same time, we finally get to learn more about Nanase, a favorite character of mine who I found easy to relate to (though I wouldn’t say our personalities are that similar). She and all the other side characters involved in this story have to go through a dark and sorrowful trial–but as was the case for the first three volumes, The Corrupted Angel is still a hopeful narrative at its heart. And at least to some degree, it is thanks to literature that the characters can come to better understand one another, as well as their own selves. It’s a message I appreciate, and one I’d like to share with others by recommending the Book Girl series here.
Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended