Manga Village

Blurb from the back cover: “Haruhi holds the fate of the universe in her hands…lucky for you she doesn’t know it!

“Meet Haruhi–a cute, determined girl, starting high school in a city where nothing exciting happens and absolutely no one understands her.

“Meet Kyon–the sarcastic guy who sits behind Haruhi in homeroom and the only boy Haruhi has ever opened up to. His fate is now tied to hers.

Meet the S.O.S. Brigade–an after-school club organized by Haruhi and Kyon with a mission to seek out the extraordinary. Oh, and their second mission? Keeping Haruhi happy…because even though she doesn’t know it, Haruhi has the power to destroy the universe.”

Written by Nagaru Tanigawa; Illustrated by Nozi Itou
Publisher: Little Brown Books/Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Sci-fi/comedy
Price: $8.99

So, I know this is not manga, but it is the light novel (a term used in Japan for something like YA lit) that the manga is based on. I work in a kidlit bookstore, so when I saw this come in, I couldn’t help checking it out.

This is an insanely popular book in Japan, spawning something like eight sequels, a manga adaptation, an anime adaptation, and translations into several languages, including now English. At first glance, it appears to be something closer to shoujo (or girls’) manga, the kind of thing that would appear in Shojo Beat magazine here in the States. The manga even looks more girl-audience than guy-friendly. But the book is actually something quite different:

Kyon is a high school guy, who’s long ago given up his hopes of living in an interesting world. You know the world he dreams about: one inhabited by superheroes, aliens, demons, or psychics just like in comics and books. But then he ends up behind peculiar classmate Haruhi Suzumiya, mysterious, beautiful, strong, and seemingly crazy. She ropes Kyon into starting the SOS brigade with her, an after school club devoted to the interest in these fantastic things. Naturally, they discover the world is teeming with them.

What’s drawn me to this book, though, isn’t the wonderful, wacky plot, but it’s narrator. He speaks in a world-weary, eternally idealistic voice in the tradition of other great narrators of fiction: Ishmael, for one (we discover that Kyon is a nickname, and despite hating it, he never tells us his actual name), and Holden Caufield for another.

Read this book; it’s great. There’s even a sequel coming soon: The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya, and I can’t wait to get a hold of it.

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About the author

Justin Colussy-Estes

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