Guest review: Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime

By Erica (Okazu) Friedman

Is there anything more delicious than a really juicy story?

Tohko Amano, self-styled “Book Girl,” doesn’t think so. And to indulge her passion for delicious snacks, she’s grabbed underclassman Konoha Ionue to write for her. Indulge she does, as she *actually* eats what she reads.

As a member of the Book Club, Konoha rapidly becomes used to Tohko’s idiosyncracies, foibles, habits and other words that mean “Tohko’s a strange bird.” But Konoha was totally unprepared to find himself writing love letters for a first-year student… or to find that the recipient of these love letters doesn’t actually exist.

Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime is a series of slightly too many plot twists strung together like beads, to form a complete, eccentric whole. Sketch-like illustrations add to the atmosphere of reading one of Konoha’s handwritten “snack” stories.

Fans of the Suzumiya Haruhi novel series are likely to find the combination of Konoha’s sarcastic, not-quite-milquetoast personality and Tohko’s overbearing weirdness (and the subtle tension between them) to be a familiar – and entertaining – formula. Fans of books about books, such as the Dante Club, or Name of The Rose and fans of the ROD series are also likely to find this series worth a read.

As a fan of all of the above, I personally found the novel engaging from the first word to the last – something I can honestly say about very, very few light novels – heck about very few *anything* these days.

The subject matter, as the title suggests, is grim in places, but I can’t think of too many teens for whom this would be a traumatic read… and the subtext of the story is about redemption and being weird yet functional, in a totally honest-to-yourself way. Although the age rating is 15+ because of the subject of suicide, I myself would have enjoyed it at a much earlier age.

Yen Press has given this series a fetching YA-novel look, and without the baggage of an a priori anime or manga fandom, this series has a good chance of just being appreciated for what it is – good teen lit.

I’d recommend this book highly to any book-y teen or precocious pre-teen or any adult that isn’t turned off by the idea of reading teen lit.

Bottom line – I enjoyed the heck out of this book and eagerly await the next one in the series.

9 Responses to Guest review: Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime

  1. Erica says:

    David – Thank you very much for hosting this!

    • davidpwelsh says:

      No problem! I find the easiest way to improve the quality of the writing on my blog is to invite other people to do it! The door is always open.

  2. judi(togainunochi) says:

    This review makes me want to read it, and so I shall.:D
    I’m a fan of Kyon from Suzumiya Haruhi, which is the biggest reason I read it, and the ROD manga, so those are the selling points for me.
    Thanks Erica for reviewing this.

  3. Erica says:

    David – Look in the dictionary – next to the word “sweetheart” is a picture of you. 🙂

    judi – It was a fun read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  4. I hope it does do well. I can’t get a copy right now because I’m in the process of moving, but it looks like it’s right up my alley.

    I’m getting worried about Yen Press’ light novel line though. Not the books themselves, but how they’re being sold. Book Girl, the Haruhiya Suzumiya’s and Spice and Wolf all got shelved in the manga section of my bookstore. As far as I can tell, they aren’t being shelved in the regular books section at all, which will limit them a lot in terms of sales. Where is everyone else seeing them? Is it just my store, or are the copies shelved in other sections selling out before I can find them? (Hey, one can hope, right?)

    • davidpwelsh says:

      I always mean to check that sort of thing and seldom remember to do so. When I read the novel of Welcome to the N.H.K., I thought it might do well with fans of certain kinds of prose but had no idea if it was shelved with prose, as I found it right next to the manga adaptation (which I really didn’t like very much). I always kind of doubt that stores will double-shelve something, unless they have a particular display set up, but maybe someone like Matt Blind could answer that?

  5. sl says:

    I’m currently reading this and I have to say I love this book. I didn’t think I would because the premise didn’t grab me or anything but I got it anyway cause I read somewhere else that it was a mystery novel and it had the word suicide in the title so I decided what the heck and bought it anyway. Hopefully someone liscences the movie that would be awesome.

  6. […] I was honored to be allowed to review Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime. You can find my review here: Short version: I liked it a lot. Out in the wider world of comics, my monthly column at […]

  7. dm00 says:

    A delightful review of a delightful book. Thanks to your v2 review I pulled this out of the tottering stack of queued books to read. I haven’t been as delighted by a work of fiction in a long time.

    May I suggest an addition to your “books about books” that this book would sit comfortably among: the Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde (I first found Fforde’s series when looking for “more things like R.O.D.).

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