Review: SAO Alternative – Gun Gale Online (Vol 1)

SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online

For general information on this novel: Sword Art Online Alternative – Gun Gale Online entry

This review is for the first volume of Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. This is a spinoff series to Reki Kawahara’s popular Sword Art Online light novels. Gun Gale Online is written by Keiichi Sigsawa and features illustrations by Kohaku Kuroboshi. Volume 2 will release in English on September 18th, 2018. So far there are eight volumes in Japan.

Vol 1 — Squad Jam

Despite Sword Art Online being the series largely responsible for light novels translated in English becoming as big as they have in recent years, I haven’t actually read any of that series. The anime adaptations of 2012 and 2014 earned the franchise a lot of fans, and I imagine its popularity will only grow further with the upcoming four-season adaptation of Alicization, SAO‘s most highly-regarded story arc. That will begin next month…

At any rate, SAO isn’t really my sort of thing, but I’m happy for all of you that enjoy it. I might get around to reading a volume of it one day, but first things first: the spinoff series written by Keiichi Sigsawa, the author famous for Kino’s Journey (a favorite of mine, that I’m always meaning to read more of). SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online features new characters who have their own adventures in the world of virtual reality, specifically in the form of a shooting game titled Gun Gale Online. In volume 1, the lead characters Llenn and M enter a battle royale tournament to see if their team can survive ’til the end.

And… that’s the plot! It really is an extraordinarily straightforward story for this one. Llenn and M shoot guns, get shot at, the bullets are flying everywhere… It’s pretty much just a long series of action sequences. You get to learn a whole lot about guns, and a few things about the characters. I imagine there will be more to learn about them in later volumes, but for now there isn’t a whole lot. Karen is a tall and shy college-aged woman in real life, but in the game (as “Llenn”) she gets to live her dream of being short and cute. And also, shoot lots of people in a video game. (Living the dream!)

It’s not a terribly conflict-driven story, since it’s literally just “Will Karen win the tournament?” But if you’re a SAO fan who could use a break from Kirito’s adventures and/or enjoy action-packed reads, this is worth giving a try. I felt the volume was pretty monotonous with it being almost 100% devoted to the gun battles, but I can acknowledge I’m not really the target audience for this one. It was at least clear to me that the author had a fun time writing it, and I imagine it can be a rollicking jaunt for interested readers as well.

Cho’s Rating: Maybe Recommended

You can purchase this book online via sites like Amazon (available in paperback or as an ebook) and Book Depository (which offers free worldwide shipping). These are affiliate links, so a small percentage of sales goes toward this site.

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