This review may contain very minor spoiler or no spoilers at all.
Zettai naru Isolator or The Isolator was adapted/turned from a web novel into a light novel. The web novel was written 10 years ago and went on a hiatus since then until it was picked up on 2014. Reki Kawahara, or should I say the writing machine, produced this piece of literature after working on two very successful novels, SAO and Accel World. I will spare you from the explanation since it's written above in the synopsis.
I apologize for this half-assed description but I don't want to revel too much of the
The story is unique with the protagonist seeking absolute solitude after his whole family, except him, gets killed by a burglar. He gets adopted by a college graduated student called Norie and later gets a super power by an alien like creature and his plan of absolute solitude get's kind of ruined because of his ability. The most entertaining part in this book was the switch between the "good" and "evil" side, so you can see each side's arguments and struggles. The progression is quite slow but filled with thrilling content that makes you want to binge read the whole book.
Shimeji did a very good job on the art. Some light novels tend to give you some illustrations at the beginning and leave the whole book "dry" or without any illustrations. This book was packed with a lot of illustrations that makes reading more interesting than just reading plain text.
In my opinion, this is the best part in the novel. Minoru being my favorite character, is a loner that doesn't want to get involved in anything because it might ruin his "solitude" and make unnecessary memories until he gets his ability. I like him because he doesn't change his mind after some pressure by other characters, which I consider it a relief since most protagonist have a half-baked resolve. I'm not going to describe every character, but they all are well written characters than develop as you go on with the story, especially Minoru.
I picked up this book on sale from Amazon for $11 and I don't regret that decision. I expected something good since it's written by Kawahara and I got more than what I was expecting, a thrilling, well written novel. There's no fan translations of this, so buying it is the only option.
This novel got the thumps-up from me and I recommend it to anyone who's looking for a science fiction/supernatural novel. $14 (The price of the book without the sale) is nothing compared to the fun you'll have reading it.
P.S: the chapter count might be wrong since I don't know how many chapters does this book have, but I finished the first volume.
"The Isolator: Realization of Absolute Solitude," or "Zettai Naru Isolator," in Japanese, is the third published work, of Reki Kawahara. Like SAO before it, it was also a web-novel, that he decided to turn into a book.
This work is amazing. Even as an avid SAO and AW fan, I have to admit that it is thirty times better, than the previous works by Kawahara. It kept me interested from the moment I started reading, until the current point (I'm on page 119, as of right now), and--since it doesn't have an anime yet--was full of surprises. Truthfully, I believe that if it recieved an
anime adaptation, it would surpass SAO and AW both, pretty easily. However, he seems to have his hands full with those two, and even the publisher was undecided whether he should work on a second volume, or not (he did, and it is titled "Zettai Naru Isolator: The Igniter").
The Illustrations are beautifully done by Shimeji (who got his "pen name" from a type of mushroom that was in his miso ramen, at the time), whose work in anime shines through with great radiance. Each colored illustration (as well as the cover art), resembles a scene from an anime, almost so much so, that it looks like they paused a video, and took a screenshot. The black and white illustrations throughout are cut down, to Japanese light novel size, with the rest of the page being filled in with black ink. While this bothered me quite a bit, I got used to it.
The story is well written, and thought out. While seemingly cliché' at first, it slowly develops into something very interesting, as it focuses not only on Minoru Utsugi, the main male protagonist, but Takaesu, the main protagonist. You get to see their views, and what leads up to their first meeting, respectively. If you're one of the people who like to skim over boring parts, you might end up going to far, and switching P.O.V., since there isn't really much of an indication of change, besides a simple "***" seperating the "parts."
All-in-all, The Isolator was very interesting, and I would reccomend it to fellow light novel readers. While the wait for "The Igniter" is sure to be grueling, I'm pretty confident that it will be worth it, in the end. With a fantastic story, great characters, and beautiful illustrations, I give The Isolator a ten-out-of-ten.
A few more novels of this a year couldn't hurt, right, Kawahara?
(I have just finished the fourth volume of the series, which at the time of this review, is also the latest one published in both Japan and abroad.)
Reki Kawahara, the writer of the (in)famous “Sword Art Online” light novel series, has been a polarizing figure in the minds of many anime and light novel fans alike. While he undoubtedly has very good premises, they are often marred by poor execution and writing, which has made Kawahara notorious.
But nowadays, more and more people are beginning to see that Kawahara has begun to show great improvement in his more recent works. For instance, his reboot of
the original “Sword Art Online” series, under the name “Sword Art Online Progressive” has been lauded as not only redeeming the flawed SAO series, but also acclaimed for being a well-written light novel in general. The new Alicization arc of the mainline “Sword Art Online” light novel series has received similar acclaim, with a heavily anticipated anime adaptation on the way.
But of course, it would not be proper to judge the quality of his latest series, “The Isolator,” by just taking a look at his other series. I only spend so much time talking about Kawahara’s improvements in his writing because I firmly believe that “The Isolator” is potentially the most cohesive and well-written stories he has created.
Plot-wise, “The Isolator” focuses on the struggles of troubled and angsty teen Minoru Utsugi, who has been left emotionally and mentally scarred by the traumatic loss of his family at a young age. As a result, Minoru spends his time closing himself off from the outside world. But this all changes when he is given powers from a mysterious orb that falls from the sky, known as the Third Eye. And thus begins the action-packed adventures of Minoru Utsugi, who finds himself involved in a conflict between superpowered heroes and villains.
It’s admittedly a fairly generic plot. But while “The Isolator” lacks the creative premises that Kawahara’s other works possess, it makes up for it in its execution.
In all of the volumes so far, Kawahara writes from the perspectives of both the protagonists and antagonists equally. Readers are given the opportunity to experience the story from two different points of view, which is effective in not only revealing more context to character actions and motivations, but also heightens the stakes. Kawahara writes villains with the complexity and depth afforded to the heroes.
When it comes to fights, Kawahara excels with his vivid but concise descriptions of combat. Many light novels fail to make combat exciting to read, but the author manages to make it as exciting as seeing it on a shounen anime series.
The novels’ good writing is also complimented by illustrations which show up every few dozen pages. Light novel enthusiasts like me will undoubtedly appreciate the high-quality pictures of key moments in “The Isolator.”
But of course, this series is far from perfect.
Oftentimes, Kawahara’s in-novel explanations can also feel stilted and drawn out. Sometimes I can't help but skim over his page long explanations of scientific concepts present in the novel. There are times when it feels like I’m not reading a light novel, but rather a science textbook.
The villains, while engaging, can also feel cartoonish at times, which can feel at odds with the darker tone of the novel. Sometimes villain backstories seem rather strange, although this is less of a quality issue as much as it is an oddity that may or may not affect your opinion of the novel as a whole.
In addition, some characters get shoved to the sidelines and don’t feel like they serve any purpose thematically. Some of Minoru’s new colleagues are introduced, then quickly forgotten about. Thankfully, the characters that do receive attention are written well and are generally engaging and likeable.
The novels also feel highly formulaic. There is a “monster-of-the-week” style with each novel, which may or may not appeal to readers. “The Isolator” has its own fair share of tropes and cliches that it employs, many of which should be familiar to avid light novel readers.
But nonetheless it still trumps Kawahara’s other works. Minoru Utsugi is a well-written character with genuine character development. In fact, the entire cast has undeniable chemistry, which makes them feel real and relatable. No relationship or dialogue feels tacked on.
If you’re looking for a well-written superhero(?) light novel series, you can’t go wrong with Kawahara’s latest work. It may not be his most unique, but it might be his most engaging one yet.
The story is about a 16 year old boy who is granted the power of a defensive shield from an orb that falls from space. The orbs "attach" themselves to their host by entering their bodies. They are classified as Jet Orbs and Red Orbs. Jet Orbs are black, and the people who have these orbs created an organization that hunt down and defeat humans with the Red orbs. The reason for this is because the humans with Red orbs gain an intense thirst for bloodlust. The powers that people get from these orbs all differ, based on the host's memories and desires.
the main protagonist, wants to live a life in which he doesn't create memories with people because he feels that all memories lead to are pain. He wants to be completely sealed off from the world after a incident in his childhood where his family was murdered. Because of this desire when a Jet orb falls from space and enters his body he gains the power of an incredible force field that covers his body protecting him from almost anything. The downfall to this ability is Minoru cannot hear and nobody can hear him while is power is active (he's finally in solitude which was his desire).
The story goes on to follow Minoru as he discovers other people with Orbs and how his past memories are something that he can never escape. One thing I really enjoyed about this light novel and something that Reki Kawahara has never done before in his other novels is the fact that the story alternates between Minoru and Takaesu (the villian). It shows what Takaesu is doing behind the scenes and it tells us what his thoughts are throughout the fights and how to prepare himself to beat Minoru. Overall I really enjoyed this light novel as I read it in one day! I really hope Kawahara goes on to expand the the series!
As someone who likes to read novels, this was a big let down, one that may have put me off of light novels.
Story - 5
The story was pretty... Meh. It didn't interest me at all, and in all honesty, it had bored me till the very end. It was filled with anime clichés and things like that. I didn't enjoy the characters very much either.
Art - 8
The artwork is probably one of the only things I liked about this novel. It was pretty good for light novel art, and it kept to a style that I personally enjoy. Not much is to be said
about the artwork, because there are only around 5 pages of artwork throughout the entire novel.
Character - 5
I found each and every one of the characters to be uninteresting and stereotypical as they could be. The main character is unique? No. I have seen to many similar characters to him that the only thing I found interesting about anything in the story is the power that he had. Perhaps it was a mistake to read the english translation. The other characters were boring as well, and it may have been the translator's fault for not expressing them completely.
Enjoyment - 3
As I said before, I wasn't very interested throughout the entire book. And unlike any other books I have read, I almost wanted to just flip to the end and finish it without reading what happens in the middle. However, I went through everything, and I was very disappointed.
As I have said before, my experience may have been affected by the translator. However, I just want to point out that I read the official translation (Doesn't mean that it could be any better than a fan translation though). I may come back to this review if I change my mind after reading the Japanese version.