Author Mizuki Nomura is best known for her light novel series, BOOK GIRL, which has been adapted into multiple manga franchises and was transformed into an animated film in 2010 by Production I.G. She currently resides in Japan.
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Wow this is my first time reading a novel-based story on 'Book Girl' or Bungaku Shoujo, which means 'Literature Girl' a story of a boy made to join the school's Book Club with its only member, Amano Touko. The story starts out as rather mysterious but then branches out into a rather insightful tale, with references from classics. Sometimes the art isn't really fitting the dark story but it is adorable anyways. I love is that the main character, Konoha Inoue's cynical personality portrayed which in artwork, it does not give the illusion of his darker personality within. This is the only novel I love and translated really well with depth. This is unlike Viz novels which were terribly script sounding and incomplete series. I hope to enjoy more of BookGirl and I could not put it down until the novel was finished.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Courtesy of The Figment Review at Figment[dot]comMay 22 2011
The Figment Review
- Published on Amazon.com
by Matt Reeves
It would seem, that in this world of literature driven by stories of love-stricken vampires and dead cheerleaders, that the very works of fiction that helped pave the road to our modern way of reading have slowly been fading into the background. Perhaps it's because of our faster paced world, but with each passing decade, these novels have continued to drift farther into obscurity, to a point where most only recognize them by name. For many, this fact has proven more than troubling.
So, how can someone encourage new interest in these old bestsellers many still consider to this day to be timeless? It's a question that has continued to plague a large number of readers and authors for quite some time. Though numerous attempts have been made, including adding Zombies to the plot, the books themselves have still not grown more popular and many have begun to fear for their future in the world of literature.
Enter author Mizuki Nomura.
Book Girl and the Famished Spirit is the second book in the newly released Book Girl novel series from Japan, being brought over and translated courtesy of Yen Press. Having sold over 1.6 million copies, the series has received a large amount of popularity, spawning a number of comics and a series of theatrical films. It has repeatedly been listed among the top 10 bestselling and most popular YA titles since 2007.
The story revolves around the narrator and protagonist Konoha Inoue, a high school student who wrote a bestselling novel in middle school under a female pen name but whose popularity and secrecy drove him to the edge causing him to never want to write again. Now, ironically, he finds himself in a book club run by Tohko Amano, a girl one year his senior. And what task does President Tohko demand of Konoha? To write short stories. Why? Because Tohko has a bit of a secret herself. She eats books, literally, and she loves handwritten ones the best.
But when the club mailbox begins to receive cryptic messages filled with torn up numbers, Tohko decides that the two of them will stay after school and catch the culprit. What they discover, however, could prove more than they bargained for. With lives quickly put on the line, and a mystery that seems eerily familiar, the two must discover the difference between what separates the dead from the living... and fast.
When I wrote my review of the first Book Girl novel, Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime, back in September, I noted its strong storytelling and gripping investigation into the state of the human soul. In that book, the story had been woven intimately with the Japanese classic No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai. The book was excellent.
For Famished Spirit, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would it be as good as the Suicidal Mime, or better?
In the second installment of the series, Nomura basis's the story on the English classic Wuthering Heights. And as is the case with Suicidal Mime, the plot and even characters are inseparably tied with the work of Emily Brontë.
Though initially slow, the plot soon glides forward rapidly, gripping the reader under its spell even more magnetically than it did in the last book. Nomura's writing style remains consistent and manages to flow well, thanks in no small part to the excellent work of those at Yen Press.
If there is one thing remarkably different about Famished Spirit that helps separate it from Suicidal Mime, it would be the subject matter. Because the story is based off a new work of classic literature, the focus has changed. Instead of exploring the deepest crevices of the soul, the book zeroes in on human relationships and the results of misunderstandings and hate. The conclusions of this investigation prove nothing short of shocking, and readers will be hard pressed to find the strength to put down this volume till reaching the end.
Having never read Wuthering Heights, I found myself growing more and more curious about it as I read on. Nomura does a superb job of weaving the story intricately with an older work while never in the least confusing readers who have no previous knowledge of Brontë. And here lies one of the greatest aspects of the book series: Nomura has succeeded in writing a series of novels that not only stand alone as great works of literature, but also manage to spark interest in the reader to seek out the classic works that inspired it.
But, of course, I know what the biggest question is on many readers' minds. How does Famished Spirit compare overall with Suicidal Mime? That's a complicated question to answer for several reasons. The first is that, on the whole, Famished Spirit proves more gripping and interesting throughout than Suicidal Mime. While the earlier volume is driven by intrigue and slowly built up to a climax, Famished Spirit rushes full steam ahead for a majority of the story. The second reason is that, unlike in Suicidal Mime, the payoff at the end of Famished Spirit is bittersweet. Opinions will vary, but as for myself, I found the ending less fulfilling than the ending of Suicidal Mime. However, as was the case with the first book, Famished Spirit is, regardless, thought provoking and emotionally powerful. So, probably the best way I could put it is that both novels in the Book Girl series outdo one another in specific ways, and each is the better for it.
Book Girl and the Famished Spirit represents a splendid sequel. As gripping, if not more so, than the original, Mizuki Nomura weaves a spellbinding tale of deception, misconception, and revenge. Readers familiar with or estranged from the work of Emily Brontë will equally find something to love within these pages. The future of literature is looking brighter with every page Tohko Amano swallows, and every new reader who is inspired to pick up a book they would have otherwise had no interest in.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"He would kill her."Jan. 30 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
The stories in each volume of Book Girl are self-contained, fill the reader in on important character traits and could stand alone fairly well, but even in this second book there's a lot of development hinging on hints and background from book 1. I'd recommend starting there.
As with the first book, Book Girl and the Famished Spirit features self-styled "book girl" Tohko (a literature loving and eating goblin in schoolgirl form) and her force recruited book club junior Konoha. His job is to write Tohko snacks, and occasionally unravel strange events stemming from requests left in the club's personal mailbox.
Describing the series' concept and main characters is a bit of a problem because it makes the books sound different in tone and approach than what they are. Tohko's "unusual" appetite is largely just a character trait in a sense - the stories at this point do not center around it nor explain what she is. Her love of literature is much more relevant. Also the absurdity and strangeness of the premise might seem to indicate light, whimsical tales. Not so.
FAIR WARNING - while extremely well written, compelling, and laced with subtle touches of humor, the Book Girl series is incredibly dark and deals with very heavy themes.
Creepy doesn't even begin to describe the events Tohko and Konoha get caught up in this time, and it starts with a disturbing opening page description of an unknown character deciding to kill someone. A few pages of prologue follow recounting Konoha's disastrous brush with fame in the past and the specters that still haunt him. It's done in wonderfully direct fashion and before the fist chapter has even begun Nomura reintroduced the main character, discussed his personal demons in a way that ties to the themes of this particular story, and established a gripping, chilling atmosphere that will continue throughout the book.
Strange notes in the club mailbox and the possibility of a ghostly presence are only the beginning. As Tohko and Konoha approach an answer from different angles they'll each run afoul of distinct, unusual personalities and mysterious happenings. The supporting cast contains a good mix of familiar faces from the first book and newcomers, and is used remarkably well to build a multilayered mystery that gets scarier and more dangerous the more it unravels. The suspense elements are nicely done, with some pieces falling into place as the reader goes and some vital connections remaining elusive until they are explained. The clues are in place though, and the author "plays fair" with the storyline and the readers.
There is again a nice literary tie in to the themes and progression of the plot which is fully understandable even if you haven't read the associated works.
The writing flows well, is dripping with emotion and really establishes the proper feeling and atmosphere for the story. This is a great accomplishment both on the part of the author and the translator. The descriptions are quite detailed in parts but I never felt like the pace suffered. If fact I found the story moved along at quite a good clip while still fully conveying what was happening at any given time.
Despite being quite unsettled at times, I was very impressed with Book Girl and the Famished Spirit. But know what you're getting into before reading. This is a very odd series that meanders a little sometimes, hits hard and isn't afraid to deal with dark, depressing topics. What's done with it all is top notch so if you can handle the caveats I mentioned I highly recommend checking out this strange duo's adventures.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A soul in the darkFeb. 9 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
As usual, Konoha and Tohko-senpai go on crazy adventures to solve someone's love troubles. And as usual, they bite into more than they can chew. Tohko's mysterious, yet gentle and sweet personality really flesh out in this book. Also, it is revealed that even Tohko cannot reveal the future (as she did using literature in the first book). This is volume is a tale of twisted, tortured love. By the end, you will most likely cry. It is a writing style that makes you feel nostalgic as you see the titles of literature you may have read as a child (Pride and Prejudice, Little Lord Fauntleroy), and makes your cheeks drip with tears as you learn the shocking truth. This is yet another volume of Book Girl you must have on your shelf.
Excellent, yet dark, entry in a great seriesJuly 14 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
It's been a while since I picked up the previous book in the series, so forgive me if I forget a little something here or there from the previous work. I have to say though, that reading the second book makes me wonder why I waited so long to get back into this.
There's a lot about this light novel that I liked. I think what stood out to me first and foremost about this light novel was that it was such a dark and somber book at times. It's very adult in tone when you get down to it, which makes it a stark contrast to books such as the Haruhi Suzumiya, which tend to focus more on crazy antics. Those series do have some serious subject matters, but ultimately tend to look at the lighter side of teenage life in surreal surroundings.
Not so with the Book Girl series. It's a light novel, which means that none of the subject matter will delve too deeply into the tougher stuff. However at the same time, the series doesn't exactly shy away from it either. Let's just say that death does occur as far as this particular book is concerned and some of the events here are bloody and depressing. This isn't exactly something you'd hand a very young reader.
I have to use this point to sort of elaborate on what made this a four star read rather than a five star. It's the very nature of this series that sort of works against it at times. We're given enough to where the characters are fleshed out enough to make the story work and for us to mostly care for everyone, but the subject matter here (eating disorders, obsession, death of Wuthering Heights proportions) really sort of longed to be more fully developed. It's more of a tease when you get down to it and I can't help but feel that some readers will get frustrated when they finally turn the last page. It's the type of story that will undoubtedly do well when the animated adaptation hits, as they'll be able to do far more than the original story contained.
Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone looking to get into light novels but wants to avoid the stuff that's more along the lines of Haruhi Suzumiya (a great series, but not for everyone). It's a surprisingly adult book and one that I hope Yen Press releases the entirety of.
Fine If You Like A Modern Update of Wuthering Heights - Which I DO NOTJan. 27 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
For future reference to myself, I must remember to do more research into books before I read them. This is an especially good idea if the book is one that references, and is partly based on, other famous books. Since <i>Book Girl</i> tends to be a series of mysteries wherein the protagonists use their knowledge of other books to solve said mysteries that eerily resemble other famous tales, this is especially a good idea.
In <i>Book Girl and the Famished Spirit</i>, the plot reference of the novel is, which I would have known had a read the afterword first, <i>Wuthering Heights</i>. I hated that novel, and couldn't get more than a quarter of the way through it, so obviously I wouldn't like this one either. Yep, definitely should have looked ahead.
The story is one where this mysterious girl dresses up in an older school uniform and leaves random bits of paper in the book club's advice box. The book club, composed of our protagonists Konoha and Tohko, the titular “Book Girl” (a goblin who eats stories), decide to investigate. Of course, in the course of this, they have some discord and everything is a mess. I won't spoil who the Heathcliff and Catherine analogues are.
The thing is that this was easy not to see at first how this volume of <i>Book Girl</i>, unlike the first one, would be dark with no light at the end of the tunnel. It had no “victory” if you will, like in the first book. Indeed, the story started out with the weird bit of magical realism that the first book contained, and thus it didn't occur to me just how this was going to turn out until, about halfway through, I started to suspect. I confirmed it and wow! I hate this book. It is, if possible, even darker and more disturbing than <i>Heights</i> was, with possibly more messed-up secondary characters analogous to the <i>Heights</i> ones.
I can't say that the story wasn't enjoyable (as far as I got through it, at least...), but it was just too dark. Really, really <i>dark</i>. I can't recommend it, despite the good writing, as it was entirely too depressing.