Durarara!! Volume One Review

 

Durarara!! is a Japanese light novel written by Ryohgo Narita, with artwork by Suzuhito Yasuda. There are thirteen novels in total, and the fifth one will be released in English on November 15th, 2016.

Synopsis (courtesy of yenpress.com):

At the invitation of an old school friend, introverted high school student Mikado Ryuugamine, yearning for a life less ordinary, makes his way to Tokyo. His destination: Ikebukuro, a hotbed of madmen living most unusual lives. On his first day there, Mikado encounters a cast of characters so colorful, the rich hues of his rural hometown pale in comparison! And as if the naive stalker chick, the high school senior obsessed with the rather creepy object of his affections, the hikikomori genius doctor, the hedonistic information dealer, the strongest man in all of Ikebukuro weren’t enough…Mikado also chances upon a sight that leaves him rubbing his eyes and scratching his head — the Black Biker, who is black as night from bodysuit to license plate, soundlessly weaving through the streets like a figure out of an urban legend. Who is this “Headless Rider” on the jet-black metal steed!? And why does it seem like Mikado’s already gotten himself neck-deep in the insanity that is the norm in his new home!?

I’m going to start right off with this: Durarara!! is a fantastic light novel, but is not for everyone. I must also say that while it has numerous strong points, there are definitely a few weak one as well.

The pros:

  • The characters are all unique in a way that makes them interesting, but not difficult to connect with. Mikado is a boy tired of his ordinary life, who seeks something extraordinary. His friend Anri is a girl who cannot find where she fits into the world. Izaya Orihara, an information broker, is despicable, yet readers can still find his fear of ceasing to exist after death sympathetic.
  • The story itself is told through a series of intertwining viewpoints of characters who at first glance seem to have nothing to do with each other. Upon treading deeper into the light novel, however, it is revealed that all of these characters all have one thing in common: they are a part of or know someone who is a member of a group named the Dollars, a color gang without any color.
  • The overall theme of Durarara!! is “twisted love.” Each character has some sort of twisted love story with another character or a concept. Mikado is obsessed with the extraordinary. Izaya claims to love all of humanity, while manipulating his fellow humans into awful situations in order to observe their reactions. Two other characters Erika Karisawa and Walker Yumasaki are obsessed with fantasy manga and books. The main target of this theme, however, lies in the mysterious “Black Rider” and her companions.

    The cons:

  • The POV’s can be difficult to follow sometimes. Some of the characters just have personalities that make them difficult to read from, and I found myself having to read particular parts over a few times in order to figure out what was going on. Mikado is the main viewpoint character, but his observations were extremely tedious to me, and I could not wait to jump to the Black Rider’s or Kadota’s POV.
  • Some of the character development going on was a bit of a jump. I won’t elaborate, for it will be a spoiler, but there is a certain scene between Mikado and two other characters that just drove me crazy as a writer. The majority of the light novel was fine in this aspect, but every so often there would be a moment or two that I couldn’t quite believe. (However, I will admit that this improved immensely in volume 2).
  • Some of the writing style was distracting. The prose was not… beautiful. I will say that I feel like a lot of it had to do with the way the book was translated. The second volume’s prose improved a lot from the first one’s, and so it is something that I can maybe overlook, especially as this was the first book in the series. Nevertheless, it could be a bit annoying to read at some points.

Overall, Durarara!! Volume One is a pleasing and entertaining read. Izaya Orihara, while not the outright villain, is one of the more antagonistic characters, as is one of the most fascinating people that I have ever read about.


(Sorry for this being much later than I promised).

Currently Reading List and Upcoming Reviews

The books that I am currently reading are Challenger Deep by Neil Schusterman, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, and The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman.

Challenger Deep should be finished by the end of the month, at least, and I’m hoping to have a review out for that two weeks after I finish it, or so.

I know I promised a Durarara!! review a while ago as well, and I promise that is coming as well. A review of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone is also on the way.

Thank you all for being patient. ❤

Best wishes,

Skyler

Why You Should Read Fantasy

Today I want to talk about why I think that you should read fantasy books. Fantasy’s a really popular genre, and I’m going to give you some reasons why it has managed to attract such a vast quantity of readers. Here are five reasons, in no particular order of importance. Continue reading “Why You Should Read Fantasy”

Body Language: An Artistic Writing Tool

Here is a great list of ways to show emotion through body language in writing!

Writers In The Storm Blog

By Sharla Rae

Have you ever people-watched and tried to guess by facial expressions and body movements what people are feeling or thinking?

This non-verbal communication of emotion, state of mind or state of physical well-being is known as body language.

Body Language is one of the most artistic and useful tools in the writing craft.

The art:

Writers paint word visuals of a character’s movements in the reader’s mind and this art  is crucial in making our characters look and act like real people rather than stick characters moving around on the page.

The tools:

I demonstrated how to use body language as a tool to eliminate clunky saidisms in my blog, “Dialogue Tags: How To Kill Some Of The Little Buggers,– showing who’s speaking rather than telling.

Body language may also be used to set the tone or atmosphere in a scene. Example: A character…

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Fantastic Worlds to Explore

In no particular order, here are some books with fantastic worlds to explore.

Shade’s Children by Garth Nix

Here’s a YA book with a dark sci-fi and fantasy atmosphere. Think of some of the best dystopian/sci-fi novels meeting Frankenstein, and you’ll have this masterpiece.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

A war-torn fantasy world, populated with chimaera and angels, bent on the opposing side’s destruction. The setting is one of the trilogy’s strongest points (and let me tell you, it has a lot), and added to the mood throughout the novels. SPOILER (maybe, kinda, sorta). There is one scene, where a character is being tortured by the enemy in the scene of a battle amidst his slaughtered comrades, and the description of the events beforehand, and also the overall area add so much to a scene that already had me in emotional turmoil. The entire world really just adds to everything, characters, scenes, all of it.

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (Come on, guys, this had to be on here)

What can I say? The wizarding world has been with me since elementary school.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

This one is a bit different, but it does and excellent job of weaving gothic/fantasy elements into the “regular world.” It’s one of my favorite stand-alone books, and a must read for everyone. I absolutely adore it, and I will never give up hoping for a movie.

The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind (Seriously, this man is a genius)

The series itself is huge, and it has a land to match its gigantic proportions. I marathoned it in a few months, and honestly, I still think about what goes on in that world sometimes. It’s one of those places that makes you want to just keep reading about it, and I am seriously regretting reading it so quickly. I need to reread it some day.

~Skyler~