After reading this 3 times, I decided to update this review a bit.
Before I start, if you're wanting to know more from watching the anime, I'll tell you this: the anime has done what the novel hasn't and vice versa. Basically, reading the novel won't guarantee what you want to know.
Even though my expectations were very high before I read this, it still managed to surprise me in every single chapter (not necessarily in a good way). This novel has the power to play with your emotions to such extent that you end up thinking about what you read for weeks, let alone days. The really descriptive narration enables the reader to picture the scenes perfectly, as if he/she was really there.
This is a beautifully crafted story, pretty good to be the first work of Akatsuki Kana, I do sincerely hope she writes more stories. The story is mainly set in a country called Leidenschaftlich. Violet travels around the world to help her clients express their feelings to their receivers. Along with that, she learns to understand their emotions as well, ultimately to comprehend something someone important to her said a long time ago.
Although the idea of someone finding the meaning of "I love you" is one that has been explored quite often before, the method used to find this complex emotion's meaning is unique. By writing letters for other people, Violet learns the meaning of emotions other than love as well, as she encounters different people in different situations with different feelings to be conveyed to their receiver. And by doing this we also get to know the lives of those people as well.
Unlike being in a boring chronological order, the novel starts in a very unusual way: we see Violet carrying out her normal duties as an "Auto-Memories Doll" for the first 5 chapters. We don't get much information about her past, and we only get some slight clues that she was a former soldier and seems to be following someone's orders. I liked the structure a lot because I'm the type of person who likes stories which start somewhere unexpected.
Each of the 5 chapters are very interesting. They persuade the reader to become very attached to the characters (other than Violet), by showing their pasts in depth and the letters they tell Violet to write. It's as if they're one of the MCs as well. Now the best part about each chapter is that they all have an emotional ending, which never stops from boring the reader. The novel constantly shows completely unrelated, new adventures set in completely different places.
Later on we get a glimpse of the Violet's past. I think I liked these chapters the most in the novel. The development of Gilbert's feelings, who cared for her during the war, from a parental love to a different form of love was amazing to me. The depictions of the battles were very detailed and rich too, and emphasized a lot of the contrast between Violet's beauty and the horrible damage she caused to her enemies. She was basically presented as a killing machine. The idea of Violet being a 'tool' or the fact that she is described as 'it' was effective in carving in the reader's mind her inhuman nature.
After that, well it'd be going in too much in the story so I'll stop. I'll just say that the last chapter was truly great, almost like a fairy tail.
1. Violet's beauty was highlighted so much I can almost memorize her description... Here's one of numerous examples:
"Her soft, braided hair was held by a dark red ribbon, while her slim body was enclosed in a snow-white ribbon-tie dress. Her pleated silk skirt swayed gracefully as she walked, the emerald brooch on her chest glittering in sparkles. The jacket she wore over the dress was of a contrasting Prussian blue. Her long leather boots, worn for practicality, were of a deep cocoa brown."
I don't know whether you're the type of person who likes description which are all glittery like this, but I did think that mentioning her beauty almost every single time whenever Violet appeared was quite annoying, and felt like a waste of lines.
2. The novel completely skips Violet's development in becoming a doll and any kind of recovery from Gilbert's situation. I was pretty disappointed with this, because it made the story feel a bit disjointed. They were pretty important parts of the story ...
3. If you're the type of person who values how battles are presented, then you might not like this. I was particularly disturbed by the fact that one of Violet's main weapon is a huge battle-axe, almost twice her height. It just didn't make sense for me for Violet to use this weapon so efficiently. But then again this is fiction, and since she is OP...
Now this is just what I thought of the story. It is debatable that the separate stories are not useful because they focus a lot in the customers. But I think it's better than having none. After all, there are some indications in most chapters about Violet's development, even if they are just slight hints.
You guys should know this (well most of you should). If I could only give more than 10... I mean the covers are so beautiful I can't describe it in words... One of those times when you say to yourself, "I wish I could live in that world." I honestly would.
Violet's development is focused a lot, especially her transition from a 'tool' to a more humane person. You could even say the types of emotions which are learnt in each of her adventures. By learning them, she gets closer to understanding what Gilbert told her. However, as I said before, it isn't perfect: we don't get any development of her actually becoming a doll.
It only increases my curiosity as to why she was left in that island alone, and why she only understood the word 'kill' when she was first discovered. They didn't provide a single reason for that. I think this was another one of this work's weaknesses.
Gilbert's development is pretty good too, from his family's strict rules and their tradition of being close with the army to his strong determination to protect Violet no matter what, and going beyond that point. Hodgins was a slightly mysterious character to me. We are shown quite a lot of his interactions with Violet as well, presenting him as a protective guardian, but not much about himself other than the postal company he founded.
The main thing I was disappointed about the novel was the lack of development of side characters like Cattleya, Lux and especially Benedict. I think they were introduced a bit too late in the novel to get enough attention. They still felt like unknown characters to me by the time I finished reading this novel, but I guess that's just me moaning about how short the novel was.
I definitely enjoyed this novel to the fullest (despite some negatives) and I would strongly recommend this novel to anyone who liked the anime.
Overall, this deserves a 10.