Saturday, March 12, 2016

Book Review -- The Isolator

Today we have a Japanese light novel by Reki Kawahara entitled The Isolator: Volume II: The Igniter. For the uninitiated, a light novel is longer than a novella, but shorter than a full-length novel. This particular book is 186 pages not including the afterword.
For those (like me) who skipped the first volume, the story is fairly easy to follow. It centers around Minoru Utsugi, a student living in Tokyo who gets infected by a mysterious alien parasite called a Third Eye. He's not the only one, though, and others gets infected as well, each gaining a unique ability. Minoru gains the power to create an impenetrable shell around himself.
Minoru meets fellow Third Eye user Yumiko Azu who has the power to accelerate her body. She recruits him to join the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare's Industrial Safety and Health Department's Specialized Forces Division, or the SFD. There he meets other Third Eye users and their abilities. Their job is to protect mankind from the Ruby Eyes, Third Eye users with evil intent. Minoru agrees to join, but he isn't interested in saving lives. His real objective is to have all memories of him in everyone around him erased so no one will remember him.

In this volume, the SFD is up against Ayato Suka, a man who has the power to control fire. Suka is obsessed with oxygen and wants to cremate all of Tokyo, and unless he's stopped soon, he just might gain the power to do it. Minoru agrees to aid in the search, but he may not have the resolve to succeed. After all, he's in it for his own selfish reasons. However, as he grows closer to his fellow Third Eye users, he could actually find his conscious and the will to fight. Together, the SFD sets out to stop Suka, but what deadly tricks does he have up his sleeve?
A translated story is tricky to review because any problems you find might be due to the translation and not the author's skill. Nevertheless, I'm willing to share my thoughts here. The writing itself is somewhat basic and seems to be written for teenagers rather than adults. The narrative also switches between past and present tense in the middle of a scene, which bugs me. Again, I don't know if that's how the author wrote it or if it's a faulty translation, but this is the finished American product.
Regardless of translation, though, The Isolator is an entertaining story with compelling protagonists. Minoru isn't your typical hero since he's trying to make everyone forget he exists, and I find that very interesting. Yumiko is also a heroine who has her own problems but is easy to root for. And Suka, while not entirely devoid of clich├ęs, still has his own angle.
Furthermore, the story has a cool comic book-inspired, superhero vibe which is really easy for a guy like me to get into. You can never go wrong with superpowers.
The book also includes some nice artwork to accompany the story. It certainly made it easy to visualize the characters.
However, I wouldn't get this book from Barnes & Noble. At $20, you're much better off buying a used copy off Amazon for less (hence the link below).
With plenty of questions that still need answering, I look forward to reading future entries in this series.

1 comment:

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