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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Vol. 1…
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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Vol. 1 (edition 2009)

by Nagaru Tanigawa, Noizi Itou (Illustrator)

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Title:The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Vol. 1
Authors:Nagaru Tanigawa
Other authors:Noizi Itou (Illustrator)
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2009), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Manga
Rating:**1/2
Tags:Humor, Science Fiction, High School, Light Novel

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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa

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I'm not sure if I actually liked this book or not. The plot is weird, but that's not really a bad thing. The writing excellent, though there were a few times when I wondered what had been changed from the original Japanese at the time of translation. But as for the story and characters? I have no idea. I liked it enough to keep reading and finish it -- but I'm not really sure I want to read more. Regardless, it was nice to be able to read a Japanese light novel translated into English. ( )
  callmecayce | Apr 9, 2013 |
Unfortunately, having seen the anime first, I feel that the first volume of the original light novels offers little additional insight to the characters and their situations as the anime was such a faithful adaptation. Many lines from the anime were apparently lifted directly out of the book. Also, because I watched the anime first, I can't help but compare it to the book.

As a light novel, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a funny and entertaining read. I did pick up on some details that I didn't notice in the anime, but I think that's mainly because I was too engaged in trying to figure out the disjointed timeline of the anime (the mixed up episode order). The book follows a traditional narrative style-- as in, beginning, middle, and end in order-- so things were much easier to take in.

I do think the scientific explanations were rather dull and poorly thought out, as if they were just thrown in there to justify the storyline (that Haruhi was some kind of powerful being), but luckily there are only a few short instances of it and once they were done with, the story goes on in its fun, light-hearted way.

But The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is more than just a fun, light-hearted high school comedy. What really struck while reading this, which I never realized while watching the anime, was that the story is essentially about longing. Both Haruhi and Kyon long for the extraordinary. As much as Kyon complains about Haruhi and the SOS Brigade, I think deep down, he really wants to be there. I see his dry sarcasm and his complaints as his way of trying to rationalize the strange things that are occurring around him-- his childhood hopes of meeting aliens, time travellers, and espers never came true, so he's rather cautious of getting his hopes up this time.

Haruhi, on the other hand, was a character I never really liked in the anime. She seemed really bossy and self-centred, which, admittedly, she still is in the light novel. That hasn't changed. But what has changed is my understanding of her. She was someone who was done with sitting around waiting for things to happen to her. If mysterious things don't come to her, she'll just have to go to them. It is with this philosophy that she starts up the SOS Brigade and it is this that I've come to like about her. There's just something admirable about a person who is willing to make things happen (her methods are certainly questionable, but you have to admire her spirit). This isn't any different from the anime and I don't know why I didn't realize this until now. Maybe consuming the story in text form made the difference.
( )
  serrulatae | Mar 31, 2013 |
The book that the 2006 hit anime was based upon, 'The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya' comes translated to the US in paperback form. An enjoyable light read, even for those who've' already seen the anime, though the story is practically identical and would not generate any new surprises for those familiar with the show. ( )
  timothyl33 | Mar 17, 2011 |
I'm not exactly sure where I first learned about Nagaru Tanigawa's light novel The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but when I heard that the very existence of our world depends on the eponymous Haruhi Suzumiya not getting bored, I knew that I had to read the book. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was published in Japan in 2003 where it won the Sneaker Award grand prize. (I don't know much about this award except that it is give out by Kadokawa Shoten to light novels.) In 2009 Chris Pai's English translation of the book was published by Little, Brown in association with Yen Press (which also publishes the manga adaptation). The English edition retains both the color and black and white illustrations by Noizi Ito. It also seems as though English edition is being marketed towards younger readers, but adults should really give the series a shot as well.

Kyon meets the infamous Haruhi Suzumiya for the first time on the first day of high school. It's just his luck that his desk is right next to hers and he seems to be the only person she's willing to talk to. Haruhi isn't interested in ordinary things or people, instead she wants to seek out the extraordinary--aliens, time travelers, espers--anything to make life more interesting. To that extent she establishes the Save the World by Overloading it with Fun Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade (or the SOS Brigade for short), dragging Kyon along for the ride. She's eventually able to coerce three other people to join the Brigade, all for the sake of her own entertainment. Much to his surprise, Kyon soon learns that he's the only normal human in the entire group when the others confess their secrets to him. Haruhi meanwhile, for better or worse, is completely unaware of the fantastical qualities of her somewhat reluctant lackeys.

Haruhi is aggressive and manages to almost always get her way (although it turns out there's a very good reason for this.) Kyon describes her perfectly when he calls her "an eccentric, bossy, self-centered girl who causes trouble for everyone around her." It's quite amusing to watch the chaos flourish in her presence. She's able to convince just about anyone to do whatever she wants whether they want to or not and it's extremely funny to watch happen. However, I will admit her near constant sexual harassment of Mikuru is off-putting and a bit hard to take. She knows she's doing it, but Haruhi just doesn't care or acknowledge the other girl's embarrassment, finding it difficult to pass up the opportunity for some fan service. She simply doesn't seem to realize there might be something wrong with that. Granted, it doesn't bother her to be put in similar situations herself. Both Haruhi and the story are spastic and the situations utterly ridiculous, but that's what makes the story so incredibly entertaining.

I'm glad I picked up The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I found the light novel to be hilarious and it made me very happy while reading it. Much of this had to do with Kyon being the narrator and interpreter of what's going on. While the story is technically about Haruhi, it's even more about this poor kid who's been caught in her wake. Kyon is an absolutely fantastic character--he's funny, sarcastic, flippant, and most definitely a teenage boy. His voice is fabulous and Pai's translation captures it and the book's humor perfectly. I'm almost afraid to pick up the next light novel in the series, The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya, because I enjoyed the first book so much; I have a feeling it will be hard to top. I'll definitely be reading the next volume though--I'm looking forward to seeing what other craziness Tanigawa can come up with for the SOS Brigade to get into.

Experiments in Manga ( )
1 vote PhoenixTerran | Oct 13, 2010 |
When I lent this book to my brother the other day, I tried to give him a synopsis without spoiling any of the plot. He had never heard of the Haruhi Suzumiya series before, so I wanted to tell him enough to interest him, but not give away major plot points. What I ended up with was "it's about this guy, Kyon, who meets a girl named Haruhi on the first day of school. Haruhi is super hot, but the first thing out of her mouth is that she doesn't want to have anything to do with anyone unless they're an alien, time traveler, slider, or esper. She's kind of a bitch, but really hot, and Kyon can't help but speak to her. At one point, he inadvertently suggests that if she's interested in meeting aliens, &c, she should start a club with the purpose of finding them. Haruhi decides that is a great idea and promptly tells Kyon that he's the first member. Somehow, totally unknowingly, the other people she strong-arms into joining are . . . an alien, time-traveler, and an esper. But Haruhi doesn't know this and can't know this, and the book is about why that is and why it's so important."

My summary was a little bit messed up, because Kyon doesn't really suggest a club to find aliens, &c., and instead just suggests that Haruhi create her own club if she finds all the others in the school too boring. It's just that the kind Haruhi wants to create would do just that. She's an interesting character, though a bit of a bitch.

But the reason I was so excited about lending the book to my brother and not giving away anything too important is that I love this story. Well, I love the series and this book is part of it.

There are a lot of things about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that would have made me want to read it, had I known nothing else, but the biggest is that the point of view character is a completely unreliable narrator. I frigging love unreliable narrators, and this one is done quite well. I find that unreliable narrators give books a lot of rereadability, in addition to making the initial read a lot of fun.

The second thing I love is the sciencey plot. I guess that technically, the book is science fiction or fantasy, but because it's more like "sf/f invade an ordinary boy's life" it doesn't really feel like it to me? But, then, Melancholy does cross genre boundaries - it's also a mystery and a romance and a slice-of-life story. The romance is pretty background, though, because of the unreliability of Kyon's narration.

The third thing I love is, again, the narrator. Kyon has a dry sense of humor and is often sarcastic or snarky in the narration. He is fun to read, and the asides are great, especially when someone responds and it isn't entirely clear if he spoke the thought aloud, or if he's tweaking the story slightly to match the flow of his thoughts. (Again: unreliable narrator = ♥!)

I have to say, though, that as fun as Melancholy is to read, it isn't easy. Partly it's because you can't always trust the narrator (or Koizumi, the esper, who explains things to Kyon), but partly it's because of the explanations of supernatural events. I found myself having to go back and reread passages a few times in order to better understand exactly what was being described - Tanigawa and the translators weren't shy of using big words or science jargon as necessary (then again, I do like that aspect of the book).

I want to heartily recommend Melancholy to everyone, but I know that not everyone is as crazy for unreliable narrators as I am, and not everyone cares for this kind of science fiction/fantasy/mystery story, and since it's something of a prologue to a long series, a lot of people won't want to invest time in it. Plus, I'm sure that a lot of people would absolutely hate Haruhi (because she's a bitch - but she gets better!), and though Kyon is the central character, the story revolves around her. ( )
3 vote keristars | Nov 30, 2009 |
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(Prologue) The question of how long someone believed in Santa Claus is a worthless topic that would never come up in idle conversation.
(Chapter 1) My first regret, upon successfully cruising through admission to a local public high school, was that the school was situated atop a rather sizable hill.
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Disambiguation notice
Original language title is Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱), ISBN 4044292019. The ISBN for the hardcover English version is 0316039012/978-0316039017 while the paperback English version is 0316039020/978-0316039024

There is a manga series based on this novel with the same name, illustrated by Gaku Tsugano. The ISBNs for the manga are 0759529442/9780759529441 and 4047138118.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316039012, Hardcover)

Haruhi holds the fate of the universe in her hands . . . lucky for you she doesn't know it!

Meet Haruhi - a cute, determined girl, starting high school in a city where nothing exciting happens and absolutely no one understands her.

Meet Kyon ­­- the sarcastic guy who sits behind Haruhi in homeroom and the only boy Haruhi has ever opened up to. His fate is now tied to hers.

Meet the S.O.S. Brigade - an after-school club organized by Haruhi with a mission to seek out the extraordinary. Oh, and their second mission? Keeping Haruhi happy . . . because even though she doesn't know it, Haruhi has the power to destroy the universe. Seriously.

The phenomenon that took Japan by storm - with more than 4.5 million copies sold - is now available in the first-ever English edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

On the first day at a Japanese high school, an irrepressible girl announces her lack of interest in "ordinary humans" and proceeds to form a club dedicated to finding aliens, time travelers, and other forms of supernatural life, with the intention of having fun with them.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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