It’s time for our second light novel summer reading program to begin! For June we’re going to read and discuss Baccano! volume 1 and The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria volume 1. You can choose to follow along with both books, or just go with one of the two. (Or neither, and participate a later month?)
Yen Press has recently released volume 1 of Baccano, so you can pick that up either at a bookstore or online (Amazon — Amazon (Kindle) — Barnes and Noble — Book Depository). The book is available either as a hardcover or in various ebook formats.
Synopsis: New York, 1931. The manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by law, but behind this prohibition, organized crime flourishes-so, too, do bank robbers, bootleggers, assassins, and homunculi. Some want money, some are chasing the secret to immortality, and others just want to have a really good time. You know what they say, though: You can’t always get what you want.
As for The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria (AKA Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria), you can find an English translation of it here on Baka-Tsuki. If you’d like to get a Japanese copy of the novel, you can order it online (Amazon.jp — Books Kinokuniya — YesAsia).
Synopsis: Kazuki Hoshino values his everyday life above all else. He spends the days carefree with his friends at school, until the uneventful bliss suddenly comes to a halt with the transfer of the aloof beauty Aya Otonashi into his class and her cold, dramatic statement to him immediately upon arrival: “I’m here to break you. This is my 13,118th school transfer, and even I can’t help but reach the end of my tether after so many iterations. So for a change of pace, I’ll declare war this time.” And with those puzzling words, the ordinary days that Kazuki loved so dearly become a cycle of turmoil and fear—Aya’s sudden appearance signals the unraveling of unseen mysteries surrounding Kazuki’s seemingly normal friends, including the discovery of mysterious devices known as “boxes.”
Below you will find our reading schedule for June. We will discuss these two books on Sundays, one-third at a time.
Baccano! (volume 1):
June 12th — discussion for up to page 79. This is part-way through the long chapter titled “Day One,” at a page break that ends with “Quietly, the spiral of destiny turned.” (On my Kindle, this is location 1026, 37% through the book.) So you will need to read “Epilogue… 1,” “Prologue,” and a good chunk of “Day One” before this discussion post goes up.
June 19th — discussion for up to page 139, AKA the start of the chapter titled “Day Two.” (On my Kindle, this is location 1814, 65% through the book.) So you will need to finish the rest of “Day One,” as well as the chapter titled “Night” before this discussion post goes up.
June 26th — discussion for the rest of the book, ending at page 215. We will be discussing the ending and the book as a whole for this post.
The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria (volume 1):
June 12th — discussion for up to the chapter titled “27,754th time.” On my Kindle, this is page 64 (or location 971, 32% through the book).
June 19th — discussion for up to the second chapter titled “0th time.” On my Kindle, this is page 135 (or location 2068, 69% through the book).
June 26th — discussion for the rest of the book, ending at page 192 (location 2941).
I will have a reminder in the sidebar for how far to read each week. If you choose to read ahead, that’s fine–just be sure to not spoil anything that happens past the assigned reading. (And, obviously, for those of you who have enjoyed anime or manga adaptations, don’t spoil anything from those either.)
The discussions will just be in the comments section of the weekly posts I put up. Everyone feel free to share your thoughts on the reading for each week, and to comment on each other’s observations. I’ll have some questions in the posts that can serve as prompts for discussion, but you don’t have to answer any of them.
If anything about the reading program is confusing, you can ask questions here.