Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cracking a Goddamned Book-The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Starting up Haruhi month with a bang, let’s start where the series did: book 1. For those scratching their heads wondering what “Haruhi” is, well let me explain. The “Haruhi Suzumiya” franchise is a series of light novels, anime episodes, CDs, and a movie. I won’t divulge much about the entire series plot here, the spoiler’s here start early as hell, and most “spoilers” you’ve already heard are completely wrong.

The plot of this book starts off simple. Kyon (not his real name, but a nickname an aunt gave him that stuck so well no one calls him his real name, which we have yet to discover) is just starting high school. He’s very cynical, and narrates how he’s had to leave his childhood fantasies and grow up. On the first day, while everyone introduces themselves, the beautiful girl behind him announces thus,

“Haruhi Suzumiya. From East Middle School. I have no interest in ordinary humans. If there are any aliens, time travelers, sliders, or espers here, come join me. That is all.”

With that, Kyon is sucked into a spiral of insanity and fun. Basically, he accidentally goads Haruhi into making a club to search for what she wants, a club soon populated my 3 more members: Yuki Nagato, the silent bookworm; Mikuru Asahina, the shy beauty; and Itsuki Koizumi, the intelligent and asskissing transfer student.

 I won’t go past the plot from there, but let me tell you it rocks. The first thing you may notice if you start the book is the odd style. It is told in first person, though Kyon. That is uncommon, but not unheard of (The Dresden Files). No, what’s weird is that Kyon rarely actually answers people’s dialogue flat-out, he just narrates his response, and sometimes they respond, leaving you wondering what stuff he says aloud and what he keeps to himself.

The characters are all wonderful. Though they have little development in this story, it’s the ‘pilot’ of the books, and starts them off well. Kyon might be my favorite protagonist ever, completely relatable in how he thinks and what he thinks about.

A big sticking point with a lot of people here is the same with the webcomic XKCD. This comic is nerdy as all get-out. Not geeky, though it is that too, but nerdy. You know how a lot of stories just have stock phrases for technobabble to explain everything, which to people who know anything about that field is complete bull? Well here, either most of what is discussed actually exists, is theorized to exist, or is a well-thought out sci-fi idea that makes you think just hearing about it. To those people who aren’t scientifically inclined, this makes it the same as any other series. But to those who love the hell out of science, this book rocks hard.

Overall, for the first book of the series, it sets the franchise up well, and the actual content is made of win by itself. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you love science, sci-fi, slice-of-life books, or anime, this book is for you all the way. Laters.

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