Hey everyone, I’m back with another of the Biannual Bibliothon challenge’s. Today’s has been set by Bursting With Books, and it is all about a book that you have rated 3 stars or less! It was hard not to choose one straight away from my June wrap up, or a book that was massively part way through a series, but eventually I managed it.
Today I’m going to discuss Sword Art Online: Aincrad #2 by Reki Kawahara! Potential spoilers ahead.
Sword Art Online follows players Kirito and Asuna as they become trapped in a deadly virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The only way to escape is to beat the game. For a seasoned gamer that’s easy, but there’s a catch. If you die in the game (are killed by an opponent/beast/fellow player, let your health bar fall into the red zone, or have chosen to commit suicide), you will die in reality too. Kirito as experience of the game prior to its launch, and with that knowledge, he is determined to beat the game once and for all.
This book I’m going to discuss is the second in the series, and is a collection of short stories from four different character perspectives. These are four women who have made a mark upon Kirito as he journeys around the different levels. All the stories featured are from Kirito’s time in Aincrad, the city and world, in which all the players are trapped.
The first story, The Black Swordsman, follows Kirito as he agrees to help beast tamer Silica bring back her familiar, Pina. Kirito has a much stronger level than Silica, but agrees to help her anyway. All is not what it seems, though. Kirito is also on a mission. He is hoping to find the leader of the orange guild (a guild that has committed crimes, such as theft) and put them in jail where they belong. In the end, Silica is pleased that she has a friend like Kirito, although she often wishes for his strength.
The second story, Warmth of the Heart, follows Kirito as he accidentally breaks blacksmith Lisbeth’s best sword. The pair agree to work together on a quest to find a new material in the frozen lands. Lisbeth swears that she can create a new, better, stronger sword. Lisbeth grows to gradually care for Kirito on the journey, although she puts her feelings aside for her friend’s happiness in the end.
The third story, The Girl in the Morning Dew, follows Kirito and Asuna as they take time away from the main game to honeymoon together – yes, players can get married in the game too! While out walking in the woods, they come across an abandoned girl, Yui. They decide to find someone that can take care of her, but they grow to become a family. Yui’s story is more complex, and it turns out that she isn’t a lost player, but an artificial intelligence (AI) created for the game. In my opinion, it’s the best story, and also the most heart-breaking.
The final story, Red-Nosed Reindeer, focuses on Kirito’s past experiences when he joined a guild. He has strong levels, but finds friends in these members. He meets Sachi, and feels bound to protect her, but is sadly unable to. In the present day, Kirito takes part in a Christmas boss mission, and finds a ray of hope that he and Sachi can reunite. Instead, he receives an audio file, set to go off at Christmas time. In the end, Sachi finally speaks to him, giving him peace.
I rated this book 3 stars, simply because some stories were better than other’s. Yui’s tale is beautiful and shows that families are not always what you expect them to be. It’s amazing how one person’s story can evoke so much emotion!
I’m not a fan of collected shorts from a book series, so I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as the first book in the series, which focuses on Kirito trying to beat the game. That means that there isn’t much that could have made my reading experience of Sword Art Online Aincrad #2 any better – it’s simply personal taste. I like anthologies, but collected short stories from different characters is a different thing entirely.
It is a well written novel though, and features some lovely graphics, but the stories play out better in the anime adaptation. I suppose you can connect more to the characters, in a sense. The characters in Sword Art Online are whimsical and real, with flaws and human emotions, but I don’t know why every woman that Kirito meets essentially falls in love with him! Maybe its a hero complex, I don’t know. Kirito is clueless to romance though, as he only has eyes for Asuna. They are the one true pairing (OTP) of Sword Art Online!
3 stars is not a low rating to me. It means I enjoyed what I have read, but I had problems with it. It’s usually personal issues, with being unable to connect to the characters or some issue with the plot. It’s a nice, comfy middle ground.
2 stars, however, is not something that I struggled to finish and wasn’t enjoyed.
A 1 star is just plain awful. It’s not often I give out these ratings though, because I like to see the good in things!
The Sword Art Online novels have been very successful, with manga and anime adaptations. Due to the success, Reki Kawahara is able to take us beyond Aincrad, to places like ALfheim Online and Gun Gale Online, where more characters are introduced, such as Suguha/Leafa and Shino/Sinon!
Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, the film, is due to be released soon, and there have been multiple video game counterparts, as well as merchandising and cosplay galore!
What was the last book you rated 3 stars or less? As usual, if you have any recommendations, please let me know!