Category Archives: Young Adult

Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town #1 (Light Novel)

Title: Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town #1

Author: Toshio Satou

Format: Light Novel

Lloyd Belladonna is finally achieving his dream of leaving his small village and going to the city to be a soldier. He wants to be something other than the weakest person around. But this meek and gentle boy has no idea his standards of “strong” are nonsense to the average citizen . . .

I first found out about this through the manga, and unfortunately I think that’s the better presentation of this story. The prose in the prologue is particularly choppy, with the narrator interjecting parenthetical comments every few lines, and although it does get better in the first chapter, it’s still only serviceable at best.

The story is entertaining, though. Lloyd has grown up in a village of former heroes, at the very edge of the world where the strongest monsters lurk. He can’t even do basic chores because even something like cutting wood or catching fish involves a fight with your life on the line (the bit where he insists he’ll be fine because fish in the capital have no horns or fangs says it all, really). So when Lloyd sees a twelve-foot locust, his reaction is “oh, there’s a bug” and squashes it, when everyone around him is screaming in terror.

In terms of characters, only Lloyd, Marie, and Chrome get much development. Marie is running from who she used to be, and trying to untangle the plots that might destroy the country. Lloyd drops into her life, and slowly everything she thought was impossible works out. And it’s her determination to protect him and keep her promise to his village chief that forces her into a hard choice.

The others are more comic relief at this point. Selen’s tendency to write her own romance with Lloyd can be amusing, but also feels a bit overplayed. Riho is more there to give reactions to the insanity surrounding her. And so on.

Overall I like the story, although it may come off better in the manga (or potentially the upcoming anime next year), where the bits of awkward prose won’t get in the way. I rate this book Recommended.

Favorite quote:
“He’s a former royal guard. Now he runs a cafeteria for the cadets: The kind of place where the portions are huge, the price is right, and the flavor is questionable at best.”
“He had one job! He’s failing at the single most important part.”
“See, he insists if it tastes too good, it’ll ruin them for field rations.”


I’m the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire! (Web Novel)

Title: I’m the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire!

Author: Mishima Yomu/Wai

Volumes 1-4 (series ongoing)


After a miserable life and untimely death, a man is offered a second life. He reincarnates as Liam Sera Banfield, who inherits his parent’s house as a Count at a young age. But believing this is going to be a blessed second life, Liam somehow continues to turn misfortune into fortune, all the while holding on to his real goal, which is to be an evil overlord. Somehow everyone misunderstands him as a righteous young lord.

This is caught my interest for the usual reasons—it’s a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi hybrid, with the misunderstanding between Liam and his noncorperal “guide” one of the biggest plot drivers. But it does one thing I really like, which is the key misunderstanding. Liam doesn’t know his previous life and this one are under attack by his guide, who is a demonic force that feeds on evil and is hoping to crush him utterly. Instead, Liam believes the lie that this is going to be a better life—and his faith, and most especially his gratitude, end up turning the guide’s deceptions into reality.

This IS a blessed life for Liam. Because he’s always thankful.

I can safely say I never saw THAT plot twist coming. The fact that his gratitude literally tears the guide to shreds is a funny side note the reader is privy to that Liam can’t see. The guide grows ever more desperate to stop Liam from being thankful to him, but since every scheme ends up benefiting Liam in the end, Liam sees it all as machinations to bless him, and responds with even more thanks.

Other jokes fall more in line with Liam’s utterly failed attempts to be an evil overlord. He likes doing things like raising taxes, but since he raises taxes with no idea how he’s going to spend it (he just wanted to tax people), and lets his far more competent staff invest those extra funds, it ends up working out that his staff is spending those taxes to better the lives of the people. So even though he’s raising taxes, he still enjoys a lot of support among his populace.

On the other hand, his idea that he’s an evil lord allows him to make the sensible decisions in all sorts of places where stories usually have protagonists falter—like cutting off his parents, who passed off all their debt to him but come back to relieve him of his future earnings.

I’m not fond of the harem aspects. The major girls all end up fairly brainless in their pursuit of him. I did like how his attempt to win Rosetta came back to bite him—he wanted her simply because she said no to him, but once they’re engaged it starts looking like he’s the one trapped in a relationship he didn’t want.

Overall this is a light, fun read. I hope future novels do more with his friendship with Kurt, and give him more friends who aren’t just trying to get in his pants. I rate these books Recommended.

Ascendance of a Bookworm #3 (Light Novel)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm #3

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

After her worst episode yet, Myne is forced to confront the illness that’s bound to kill her if she doesn’t do something. The problem is that her choices are extremely limited—and the best option for survival involves giving up the one thing she finds she isn’t willing to lose. In the time left to her, she’s determined to do as much as she can . . . and finds that sometimes opportunities come in surprising packages.

After where the last book left off, this one immediately resolves the worst of it, while presenting Myne with a grim prognosis. It’s interesting to see how this struggle has left Myne aware of what’s really important to her—and that isn’t only books.

I like how this book fleshes out Lutz, Benno, Frieda, and other secondary characters too, as they all deal with the news in their own fashion. I also like how Lutz in particular is holding on to his dreams. They are HIS dreams, even though Myne is the reason he’s achieving them.

Even with the serious undertones, there’s plenty of humor. Myne has a tendency to get wild ideas about things she wants to do and go about doing them, disregarding whatever upsets she might cause along the way. This has particular implications closer to the end, when her baptism ceremony shows her something she never thought she’d see.

One thing I haven’t touched on so far are the illustrations. The art is gorgeous, and I particularly appreciate how the male characters also get plenty of focus, which allows me to see what the whole cast looks like instead of just the girls.

I also want to say, for the record, I am completely on Benno’s side when it comes to the Guildmaster. Benno accurately perceived his actions as wanting to take over Benno’s family store, because regardless of what the Guildmaster says, that’s what would have happened. And the fact that the Guildmaster wouldn’t let it go, and then obstructed Benno out of petty spite on various issues because he couldn’t take being told no, and he mostly wants to stop Benno from selling various things because he’s determined Benno runs a CLOTHING store and nothing else . . . I really hope Benno drives him bankrupt.

Overall this closes out the first major arc of the story. The way it sets up the future hints at a lot of amusing situations to come, and it will be fun now that Myne has a whole new set of people to drive crazy. I rate this book Recommended.

Ascendance of a Bookworm #2 (Light Novel)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm #2

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

Myne has taken the first major step towards realizing her dream of creating books: securing the venture capital to fund her creation of paper. With a few months to create a prototype, she and Lutz need to try to recreate the fuzzy steps she remembers. But Lutz is growing suspicious of how much knowledge she possesses . . .

I’m going to say up front that you should probably have the third book on hand for when you finish this one, because the cliffhanger is brutal.

Myne is still sickly and weak, but with Lutz’s help, she’s able to do more. A lot of this book is the process of creating a sort of paper from scratch—and it’s a lot of work. Much of the rest is her deepening relationship with Lutz.

I really like how Lutz eventually confronts her, and how that resolves. From his perspective, he’s trying to do the right thing, but he has no idea what he’s actually asking her to do. For Myne, it’s her chance to come clean, to have one person with whom she has no secrets, which makes him an even better ally than her supportive family.

I also like how the supporting characters are being built up. Benno is a merchant through and through, but you can see him warming up to them over the course of the book, and not just because they stand to make him a lot of money. Otto gets a lot more development too. His relationship with his wife is hilarious, especially because Myne totally picks up on the subtext of why she’s getting kicked out.

Overall this is building on the strengths of the first book, and expanding the world as Myne develops the strength to move around more in it. I rate this book Recommended.

Ascendance of a Bookworm #1 (Light Novel)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm #1

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

Urano was a girl who loved books more than anything else. But just after landing her dream job as a librarian, she dies when an earthquake topples too many books on top of her—and reincarnates in a world where books are far out of reach of her new status as the daughter of a gate guard. Now named Myne, she’s determined to create her own books if that’s the only way she’ll ever have one.

This is a different kind of book. Myne is the typical modern Japanese person reincarnated into a vaguely fantasy, European-styled middle ages, but she’s young. Extremely weak. And although she has a clear goal from the beginning, it’s one impossible roadblock after another. I was particularly amused at the failure of her clay tablets. It is surprising she never knew about kneading clay to remove air bubbles, but it does make good drama.

Myne can come across as annoying in the beginning, when she’s complaining about lifestyle that was normal for people of her family’s stature. Things like accusing them of being dirty, when bathing to any extent involves carrying water up five stories (and although it isn’t explicitly stated, may have been believed to cause illness instead of cure it, if this is supposed to follow this world’s history).

However, as she adapts to life here she directs her complaints more at figuring out ways to address her issues. The strong bonds her family has are a lot of fun, especially her relationship with her big sister Tuuli. I like how her family clearly loves her, yet treats her like the sickly child she is, and often refuses to let her have her way. And Myne generally accepts their judgement and moves on to something else rather than look for a way to be sneaky around them.

I also really like Lutz, one of the neighboring boys who ends up good friends with Myne. Childhood friendships are such simple things sometimes. Myne, with her more adult outlook, often over-complicates things. For Lutz, she’s someone who feeds him and looks out for him and that’s good enough to excuse any number of oddities.

There is a currently-airing anime for this, which is one reason I got into the series. It’s pretty accurate to the books, and a good alternative way to experience the story, but as always the book has details a visual medium just can’t convey, so I think there’s value in both.

Overall this was fun, but the change of pace does mean there isn’t a lot of action to speak of. Most of the struggle is internal as Myne fights with her body and her world to carve out what she considers the ultimate happiness. I rate this book Recommended.

Chosen (The Brindle Dragon #1)

Title: Chosen

Author: Jada Fisher

Series: The Brindle Dragon #1

Eist is determined to be a dragon rider. Despite losing both of her parents, despite her grandfather’s warnings, she knows this is what she was destined to become. But the academy is not an easy process, and even passing all her classes doesn’t guarantee she’ll end up with a dragon.

This was decent, but a little too straightforward and short. Although it sets up the foundation, it’s only about a third of what I would expect from a book. That means it has enough time to introduce the major characters and set some details about their world and problems, but nobody really has a character arc. I can’t really count the ending as resolving much because even if the title and the cover image didn’t clue you in, nothing really shakes Eist’s belief that this is her destiny and she just has to get there.

The closest this comes to conflict is her periodic confrontations with a bully. Laying aside the fact that it throws some doubt on the moral part of this school’s evaluation when he keeps sabotaging her during events under observation, the teachers don’t seem terribly involved in this struggle on either side. One person looks kindly on a physical marker that showed up after an illness (it feels unnecessary to call it a mark of the gods, though), but otherwise they’re entirely hands off. I don’t mind that Eist has such a firm belief in her own destiny, but the only time her destination is really in question is when she starts missing classes, and that resolves without much fuss.

I did like that the main character struggles with a disability, which will be obvious to the reader very early on, though she doesn’t admit it until the end. The professors having nothing but good things to say about it was a little weird though. She will have issues, especially since dragon riders seem to be part military or police-focused. That’s not to say she can’t also do the job, but it seems premature to say this won’t impact her ability to do the same job if she just works harder. Hard work won’t make a crowded street any less noisy or confusing in the middle of an emergency (presumably the dragon’s senses can substitute?).

Overall I liked this well enough that I would probably read the rest of the series if I had Kindle Unlimited. I’m a bit leery of the more serial format, and I wish there was a bit more to the characters to make them more than “nice guy she likes” and “taciturn girl from a foreign country.” I rate this book Recommended.

Web Novel Short Reviews

I haven’t been completely inactive, but most of my reading has been web novels that either don’t have an ending yet, or are things I dropped after a few hundred chapters and haven’t gotten around to finishing.

So I’d like to briefly highlight some of the standouts, as an eventual reminder to myself.

To Be A Power in the Shadows (official title: The Eminence in Shadow) – Sid has always admired the mysterious figures that rule from the shadows and fight evil, and has made it his life goal to be one of them. This is amazingly funny. Sid flat out admits in the first chapter he’s willfully thrown away sanity in pursuit of his dreams (I do hope this chapter retains all its best quotes in the official release in November). So what’s left is a boy having the time of his life playing at his dream, while not realizing that everything he thinks is pretend is actually real. Which drives the evil organization nuts because they can’t understand how their information is leaking, when from Sid’s perspective he’s just making up a nice backstory to explain why he’s doing what he does.

My Death Flags Show No Sign of Ending – A young man is pulled into the character of one of the villains of his favorite games. Starting as 10-year-old Harold Stokes, he’s trying his best to avoid all the things in the game that led to his death. This one is funny too, although it took a few chapters for me to get into it. Harold has an interesting quirk where the original body’s personality seems to not be completely gone, which results in him being completely incapable of saying anything nice. I love the grumpy thought he has calling his mouth cursed equipment. But since he’s not sure how much other people ought to know, and because no one will believe him if he tries to explain anything, he keeps most things to himself and the misunderstandings keep piling up. Unfortunately, the extremely slow release of recent chapters suggests the original author has either dropped this or is close to dropping it, which is especially aggravating because the story is so close to the final battle.

The Amber Sword – A gamer is pulled into his favorite games as one of the NPC characters seconds before his death. After scrambling to survive, he works to save the country he loves, which fell in the game to the undead invasion that is just now beginning. This is a pretty solid fantasy, with a surprise appearance of a magic system based on Magic the Gathering somewhat late into the plot. That said, most of the magic and abilities are outside that system, so the introduction of cards doesn’t unbalance things too badly, and it’s an amusing look at what a card based magic system could look like in practice.  The only downside is that the translator got busy with real life stuff quite a ways in and seems to have dropped it, and there’s no indication if he or anyone else might pick it up again.

The S-Classes That I Raised – After an unfortunate incident where his brother sacrificed his life for him, the main character manages to return five years in the past. Determined to fix his relationship with his brother, avoid all the stupid things he did, and generally take it easy, he’s a bit derailed when his caretaker talent starts setting him up to play a much bigger role finding and strengthening the world’s strongest. This one is interesting because the main character himself is generally incapable, though not usually incompetent, and now that he’s had such a bad experience he’s ready to do his life over “correctly.” It is hilarious watching him encourage others when he really wants to scream because his ability can only be triggered by the words “I love you.” So he has to keep forcing conversations around to the point where he can say those words and have them mean something to the receiver. But it’s also surprisingly heartwarming because even if he’s not entirely the nice guy others think he is, he does try hard to make their lives better. Also it features a cute unicorn-cat-lion monster that mostly acts like a cat unless it gets annoyed, when it can swat couches into splinters. This one is ongoing and updates on Fridays.