Oreki Houtarou is a self-proclaimed "energy-saver" - that is, he will not actively waste energy doing things that aren't necessary. Though he had no interest whatsoever in joining any clubs upon entering Kamiyama High School, he was commanded by his older sister Tomoka to enter the school's Classics Club, which was in danger of getting abolished as all previous members have graduated. Together with his old friends Fukube Satoshi and Ibara Mayaka, as well as the elegantly ladylike and curiously inquisitive Chitanda Eru, the newly reformed Classics Club find themselves involved in all sorts of mystery-solving escapades. Houtarou soon finds out that the Classics Club, as Tomoka has promised, is actually "quite interesting".
A novel about a classic literature club, how monotonous must it be?
Koten-bu is a novel like no other I've read before. With its classy and whimsical atmosphere, peculiar plot, smooth and easy-going prose, amazing interactions between its quirky characters, plenty of references to western works and mysteries that are so simple yet with the way that they're presented they may seem like they're just as complex as the ones only Sherlock Holmes himself would be able to solve. With so many characteristics as these it is not an easy task to find a word to describe this novel, but if I had to choose,
it would definitely be just one: Boring.
𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 (and storytelling):
Hotaro Oreki, a self-proclaimed "energy-saver" is an ordinary-looking, introvert and indifferent teenage boy with an average appearance. Lazy is the definitely the best word to describe his personality. But despite having such demeanor, to his displeasure, his eccentric older sister orders him to join the 'Classics Club' before it gets closed down because of its lack of active members.
Upon arriving in the said club he meets Eru Chitanda, another student from Kamiyama High School, which is described as being a graceful lady with a long, flowing dark hair and large black pupils. With a great sense of curiosity and a very persuasive personality she manages to bring out his potential as a mystery-solving detective and make his life-motto "If I don't have to do it, I won't. If I have to do it, I'll make it quick" crumble into pieces. Every time something relatively puzzling appears, all she has to do is say those 'magical words' to him, and as if he was being a victim of the spell of a witch, he has no choice but to accept her requests and in a mystery-filled school such as Kamiyama High there are plenty of enigmas waiting to be solved.
Remember when I said that this novel was boring? Well... in a general consensus it kind of is. There's no action, no murders, no betrayals, none of this. Only riddles to be solved by the Classics Club's members. But to me, I didn't feel bored not even for a second while reading this novel. Sure, the protagonist himself may be boring, as in a sense that the only thing that we know about him is the fact that he has a sister and he's not very fond of socializing. But just like many protagonists, he's a blank P.O.V. character created for people to put themselves in his shoes and experience the story through his angle. But to counterweight this, there's always something interesting and noteworthy happening around him to keep me entertained.
The serene and tranquil storytelling this novel has makes text flow easily and smoothly. The author chooses carefully which words to use to describe every scene, gesture or expression. The narrative is neither sloppy nor pretentious giving this novel a calm and peaceful atmosphere for most of the time, but it can also be engaging and captivating when the mysteries are being solved. Simply put: it befits perfectly for a light-hearted mystery novel such as this one.
The themes which are dealt in this novel range from discussions about subjectivity and objectivity when judging the quality of fictional works to dilemmas related to life choices and their subsequent consequences. While the main genre of this novel is mystery, there are also dashes of drama and a considerable amount of comic relief can also be found on it.
Oreki is a passive, calm and reserved person that prefers being alone reading novels or napping rather than spending time with other people. Chitanda is the president of the Classics Club and the one responsible for making the plot progress with her energetic personality and incessant curiosity. While she can be a polite, ladylike ojou-sama from a wealthy family she completely disregards the concept of personal space from time to time when she's doing her requests. Fukube is a cheerful yet sarcastic and also rather flamboyant person that finds joy in the constant act of teasing his best friend. And lastly Ibara, she's a very strict person that can come off as annoying for most of the time, but she can also be friendly and pleasant when she wants to, as she developed a great friendship bond with Chitanda, whom she affectionately nicknamed "Chii-chan". And these are the members from the Classics Club who spend their youth in Kami High School solving mysteries and dealing with their daily routines.
The interactions between these characters happen so spontaneously, it's something extremely entertaining to watch. For most of the time everyone just keeps teasing and mocking Oreki, but sometimes he is able to give some snarky responses to them. Since Oreki knows Fukube and Ibara since middle school, Chitanda feels like an outsider and because of this she's always making her best to get to know them better, always asking innocent questions while staring at them with her large black eyes. With every mystery that is solved the characters change a little, just a little and learn different things from each other every passing day.
One character that is not from the Classics Club, but is definitely noteworthy is, my personal favorite, Fuyumi Irisu, nicknamed as 'The Empress' by Oreki. She's graceful yet cold and manipulative and she's willing to do what it takes to get what/ever she wants. She even outsmarted Oreki into solving one mystery for her and that left him in a sour mood for a while. But even with a personality like this she is not immune to Chitanda's persuasiveness, as she said that she was a victim of the power of "Chitanda's Eyes" when she requested her help to sell the Hyouka anthologies during the school festival.
Other than that, all I have to say is that the author did a pretty good job with the characterization and fleshing out the characters throughout the story.
•Not so good protagonist;
•Fantastic heroine that drives the plot forwards;
•Excellent main cast overall;
•Fuyumi Irisu best girl.
This is an unique and extremely enjoyable novel (at least for me). I have fun reading it and also translating it (I'm translating it into my own language - ENG→PT-BR)*. The mysteries are simple but they're intriguing and well executed. The characters are brilliant, they're charismatic and well-rounded and they have amazing interactions with each other. The drama is neither weak nor forced and the jokes are genuinely funny. I'm glad I've found this novel because I honestly had a great time reading it, I'm sure this novel is going to stay forever amongst my favorites for being an amusing and enlightening work of art. And even when I'm not reading it, I can't stop thinking about it!
*/Edit: not anymore.
•Simply a work of art.
Story - 9/10
Characters - 9/10
Art - N/A
Enjoyment - 10/10
Overall - 9/10
Similar recommendations for those looking for stories centered around mystery(/slice of life), drama and some comedy:
Akuryou Series, Yahari Ore no Seisun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru., Haruhi Suzumiya Series, Gosick, Kokoro Connect, CLANNAD, Monogatari Series, HaruChika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun suru, Zetsuen no Tempest, and Natsume Yuujinchou.
Hyouka is really well made excellent mystery novel, that made with so many thoughts and thinking. Story follows the freshman high school student Houtarou Oreki who forced to join Classical lit. Club because of his big sister request. Oreki have one motto that he follows truly "If I don't have to do it, I won't. If I do have to do it, make it quick,” But when he met girl name Chitanda Eru first time in Classic Club room, his life motto start to shattered, because of Chitanda and her unstoppable curiosity.
Oreki noticed him involving himself in chitanda more than he thought he would. Energy
saving Oreki start to notice he just can’t turn chitanda curiosity down.
He doesn't want to "waste" his energy on relationships, sports or some other activity. Instead he wants is to "save his energy" by all means and spend his high school time as plain as possible.
What’s more special is that, we get to feel and relate to him. His involvement from a bored-of-life, wasted character, to one who has interest in life, and participates is really amazing.
The story and concept is excellent unlike other high school Novel mostly focused on a mystery in high school life. Now that makes a lot of changes in one opinion. The story sometimes gives great thrill but there are many chapters which are just giving you excitement to read more. The mysteries are good, yet there are no serious instances such as murder or crimes. Unlike many novels they only focused on little mystery and yet the little mysteries are thrilling enough to make read more and more.
The most amazing thing about this novel, author described every character really well. Choose his every word with so many thoughts definitely the most amazing novel for describing characters.
The characters in this novel are well thought and are much needed for this novel .The main character would be everyone’s favorite in the 1st chapter itself but the female lead too is cute and well put. Not to mention the side characters are also well thought.
Oreki, Houtarou is the protagonist of the novel, and definitely different nature from other novels characters nature. He's calm and lazy, he pratically love to live average life that don't attract attention of others. He's good with academics but not very good, but he's good at figuring things really quickly and made good decision. Houtarou is apathetic person who prioritizes energy conservation above all else. However, he possesses brilliant deduction skills and he is often forced to use them by ever curious Eru Chitanda. Oreki wouldn't want to get himself involved in such wasteful energy consumption. Is not saying that saving energy is the superior option for him, he just don't like wasting energy.
Also, because of his attitude, Houtarou doesn't talk much, and he rarely gets angry, though he does appear to get irritated often. In general, Houtarou doesn't express his emotions much.
Motto: "If I don't have to do it, I won't. If I have to do it, make it quick."
Chitanda, Eru is the heroine in the novel, 'graceful' and 'neat' are the perfect word to describe her character, her eyes are black in novel and purple in anime, her pupils are big, and rather than graceful, they looked energetic. She is described as being sensible, emotive, friendly, and innocent, coming across as "childlike" in many aspects. Chitanda is very calm and well-mannered girl but can be real energetic when her unstoppable curiosity took place, Start drive protagonist crazy.
She can be very persistent and stubborn, especially concerning mysteries, as she will not be able to stop thinking about it until she finally solves it.
Motto: "I'm curious; I can't stop thinking about it!"
Satoshi Fukabe, he's a protagonist best friend from his middle high school, the fact they didn't meet each through the same class, they got acquainted with each other through some circumstances and henceforth, their relationship stood as frenemies. Satoshi gives the impression that his general demeanor is cheerful, eccentric and sarcastic. Satoshi is very careful with his application of jokes for he believes that they must be improvised, or else they are just common lies, moreover he fully understands how they can cause misunderstandings.
He really loves mountain bike cycling and arcade games. He is also a Sherlock Holmes fan.
Motto: "A database can't draw conclusions."
Ibara, Mayaka has been in the same class and school as Houtarou for nine years since their first grade in elementary school. She dislikes Houtarou's laid-back attitude and life-style. She seems to have trouble accepting the fact that Houtarou is able to solve mysteries and puzzles she herself couldn't. The two tend to be harsh with each other due to their clashing personalities, but are good friends deep down.
She's fourth member of Classic lit. Club and become close friend with Eru and calls her by the nickname "Chi-chan".
Famous quote: "Oreki, you're strange!"
So protagonist is definitely the best character in Novel;
Heroine is definitely second best character in novel;
No character is annoying and dislikeable;
The involvement of side characters are really well written;
Oreki lays down personality and Chitanda unstoppable curiosity is the best thing in this novel;
It’s worth a time to read this novel, if you're novel lover, so you definitely have to give it a try. This novel is a masterpiece that follow genre of slice of life, mystery, drama, everything is great about this novel so don't try to hold back to read this masterpiece.