Review: Book Girl and the Scribe Who Faced God

(art by Miho Takeoka)

For general information on this series: Book Girl entry

This review is for the seventh and eighth volumes of Book Girl by Mizuki Nomura (with art by Miho Takeoka). The English editions were released by Yen Press in July 2013 and January 2014, and the entirety of the eight-volume series has made it over. Note that volumes 7 and 8 are simply parts 1 and 2 of one big story, which is why I’m reviewing them together.

The end of an era… It’s finally time for me to finish reviewing the Book Girl series. Anyone who has frequented this blog or my Twitter feed will know that this is my favorite light novel series. It’s what really got me into light novels in the first place. And to be completely honest, it’s one of the biggest reasons why I created this blog. I wanted more people to become aware of Book Girl and try reading it. I wanted to find other people who had read these novels, and hear their thoughts on all the stories and characters.

Volumes 7 and 8 compose the first and second halves of the final story, The Scribe Who Faced God. In this grand finale, Konoha’s character arc comes to a dramatic conclusion, and we at last get the full back-story for Tohko. All is revealed regarding her, her cousin Ryuto, and their complicated family situation and childhoods. A lot of smaller subplots from the previous six volumes are also tied up along the way, which felt great for giving this series a strong conclusion that brings all the tragic yet hopeful themes and works of classical literature together. It’s the emotional roller-coaster going through its final loop, then slowing down to a stop at the entry point.

The overarching story arc regarding Konoha and Miu has been settled (back in book 5), so now it looks like Konoha can move on with his life and Nanase (Kotobuki) can actually have a relationship with him. But of course, things can never be that easy… Ryuto suddenly turns grandiose and cruel, and Tohko suddenly drops arguably the most devastating bombshell of the series. Perhaps both of these developments were a long time coming (indeed, there are hints to everything since the very beginning), but it’s still quite painful to read. Poor Konoha. And poor Nanase! And, well, poor everyone I suppose.

Of course, I’ve come to expect broken characters fixating on destroying everyone close to them and/or themselves. That is the bread and butter of Book Girl, watching characters fall apart and then, through the power of classic literature, find it in themselves and in their loved ones to somehow pull through. In this case, the central mystery entails Konoha working out the truth regarding what happened to Tohko’s parents and Ryuto’s parents. Of the four, only the silent and merciless author Kanako Sakurai is still alive (the others having died when Tohko and Ryuto were small children). Konoha has to piece together the past for all these characters, and work out how everything ties to both a work of classic literature (Andre Gide’s Strait is the Gate), and to Kanako’s own novel as well (a work titled The Immoral Passage). The conclusion to all of this is very satisfying, and easily my favorite part of these two volumes.

As I mentioned in my volume 6 review though, I have mixed feelings about The Scribe Who Faced God, and it mostly has to do with what would ultimately become of each of the characters in this story. I won’t give things away here (though perhaps I will in a future editorial), but basically I feel that this final story was a bit drawn-out, a bit repetitive, and a bit… forced? Or maybe I should say I just didn’t want things to play out quite the way they did. Perhaps all of this is fitting though, considering what goes on in this final story. There’s a very interesting theme about authors betraying readers, and readers betraying authors–something that hits close to home for me, as both an aspiring writer and a book blogger.

This is definitely a bittersweet story, and a bittersweet series. But if you like drama, mystery, classic literature, and characters who are extremely three-dimensional, you really need to give Book Girl a read. At the very least, it will give you a lot to muse about and ponder over. Much more than I’ve found in any other series of novels I’ve read.

Cho’s Rating: Recommended

3 responses to “Review: Book Girl and the Scribe Who Faced God

  1. After reading this I can’t help but agree. Sometimes Konoha behaves in a really daft way that just seems a bit forced in order to make Kotokybi’s life miserable! I did like Tohko’s story quite a lot.

    The ending itself was all wrong :( at least in my humble opinion, it’s just a complete contradiction of all the events leading up to it.

    Anyway, I would still strongly recommend the whole series, it’s great.

    I am curious about https://www.baka-tsuki.org/project/index.php?title=Hikaru_ga_Chikyuu_ni_Itakoro…… this one, by the same author. Sounds a bit more light hearted than Book Girl, if there was a physical release I would seriously consider picking it up.

    • Thanks for leaving a comment!
      I have mixed thoughts on how Konoha was handled in these two volumes — on one hand I liked that he was finally able to work things out on his own in regards to the main mystery/drama subplot. But on the other hand I don’t really like how his character arc became about how he MUST become an author, even though he had no desire to. My mixed feelings extend to how characters like Ryuto and Chia are handled as well, where I’m sad about how things develop for them, but at the same time I feel like I should know better than to expect smooth sailing for everyone in a series like Book Girl.
      I’ve read the first two volumes of Teh_Ping’s translation of When Hikaru Was on the Earth, and overall I liked them. The stories definitely lean more toward comedy on the dramedy scale, but there’s still a serious overarching mystery that looms in the background. I recommend giving it a shot.

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