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GOSICK Volume 1 by Kazuki Sakuraba

GOSICK Volume 1

by Kazuki Sakuraba

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I have read very few light novels that I'd recommend to someone who hadn't already seen the anime adaptations or who wasn't interested in anime/manga. Sadly, I can't add Gosick to my short list.

The book's biggest problem is that the writing is kind of clunky. I have no way of telling if this is because the original writing was bad or because the translation was bad. Tokyopop had a less-than-stellar reputation for its translations, so I'd be willing to believe the latter explanation.

Despite having thoroughly enjoyed the anime version of Gosick, this book was a slog for me. I know some of that was due to the writing. Some of the word choices were awful, and some sentences were a bit awkward. I'd have to include a longer passage to really illustrate what I'm talking about, but this sentence in particular stuck with me. Victorique is taunting Kujo, who must use the library's many stairs while she gets to use the elevator: “'You have to trot on down the stairs, suffering and leaving your thighs quivering and exhausted.'” I noticed at least one instance where a word was misused: “She was a dignified, hollowed [sic] creature who never should have been brought to this filthy, sinking ship” (170). “Hallowed” should probably have been used instead.

Although I do think the writing/translation was a big part of the reason why this book took me so long to finish, the fact that I already knew how the book would end probably didn't help. The first three episodes of the Gosick anime are an adaptation of this novel. I did note a few minor changes here and there, though.

There were a couple things that I think must have been edited out for the anime adaptation to reduce the possibility that there might be complaints. For instance, although Victorique was allowed to keep her pipe in the anime, she never once actually smoked it. In the light novel, she smokes it and even occasionally blows smoke in Kujo's face. So, I guess now I know why Victorique always kept that silly pipe around in the anime. Another scene I think was changed was the bit where Kujo and Victorique had just gotten on the cruise ship and Victorique was eating dinner. There wasn't another dinner available for Kujo, and I think I remember Victorique giving Kujo some of her bread. In the novel, one of the other passengers, Ned, tells Kujo he can sit on his lap (which Kujo does after Victorique orders him to) and then proceeds to feed him. Ned is a grown man, and I think Kujo is maybe 15 or 16 years old. The scene made me a tad uncomfortable.

One other difference between the novel and the anime: I don't think Book Victorique had the pendant that Anime Victorique had. However, near the end of the novel, the character who orchestrated everything on the cruise ship mentions having seen someone who looked a lot like Victorique at a sanatorium, so I'm guessing that the light novel series does still include the ongoing storyline about Victorique's mother.

In my opinion, some of the best parts of the novel came near the end, when Kujo began evaluating his feelings about himself and his friendship with Victorique. I loved the moment when he decided to make it clear that he was saving Victorique because he wanted to, not because he was the third son of a soldier – he went from being someone with a duty and a need to prove his worthiness to being an individual who needed to do the best he could in that particular moment in order to save himself and his friend. For most of the novel, Victorique was a cool, distant, somewhat grouchy, and dismissively intelligent beauty. Near the end of the novel, however, her facade cracked a little, showing her vulnerable side.

I also enjoyed the flashbacks showing the children who had been imprisoned on the ship 10 years ago and tricked into killing each other. Although I knew what was going on and why, it was still interesting and chilling to read about the children trying to survive, forming alliances or deciding to distrust one another. Part of me wished that more pages had been devoted to these flashbacks, as well as to the passages that further developed Kujo and Victorique and added depth to their relationship.

The relationship between Kujo and Victorique, as well as the hint of mystery about Victorique's mother, could make reading later volumes in this series worth it, despite the bad writing/translation, particularly if the light novel series storyline differs greatly from the anime storyline. It looks like Tokyopop only ever got around to publishing two volumes, though.

If you decide you'd like to read this, I highly recommend getting a copy from your local library – I'm not sure I would have recommended buying it back when it was still in print, and I definitely don't recommend buying it for $47 . Really, though, since only the first two volumes are available in English and I imagine the writing/translation isn't any better in the second volume, my recommendation would be to watch the anime instead: you can do so on Crunchyroll. It's much, much better, and, I promise, it does have a proper ending.

My grade for this book: C-. The overall story is decent but dragged down by clunky, awkward writing/translation.


Like every other light novel I've read, there are black-and-white illustrations. Again, I prefer the anime over the book. One of the illustrations, supposedly of a scene not long after Kujo was badly beaten, showed Kujo looking perfectly fine. The anime, at least, took into account what Kujo had gone through – his face was swollen and I think he was a little bandaged.

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 24, 2013 |
Already the editing is atrocious. :/
  GinnyTea | Mar 31, 2013 |
Read my review at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog! ( )
  herebebooks | Jun 10, 2011 |
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This is the light novel. Please do not combine with the manga adaptation.
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The year is 1924, the place, Sauville, a small European country neatly tucked beside the Alps... Kazuya Kujo has been studying abroad at the prestigious Saint Marguerite Academy, where urban legends and horror stories are all the rage. Most Kazuya ignores--but the story of the Queen Berry, a mysterious ghost ship, really gets to him. Of course, his brainy friend Victorique is much more intrigued by true stories, and she uses her unrivaled logic to solve mysteries even the town's famous detective can't. Ironically, it's Victorique's inquisitive nature that leads the duo to board a ship that matches the Queen Berry's description to a tee, a ship that might just hold the key to solving a sinister mystery... Kazuki Sakuraba's modern twist on Holmes and Watson--pairing Victorique, a wizened young girl with doll-like looks and her eager-to-please sidekick Kazuya.… (more)

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