Kobato meets with Okiura without telling anyone, but Fujimoto finds her anyway and overhears her telling Okiura that she believes Fujimoto hates her. That isn't true, of course, but that doesn't stop Kobato from
fulfilling Sayaka's wish, to be free of Okiura's father, in the belief that Fujimoto would be happiest if Sayaka were happy. Fulfilling the wish leads to Kobato's death, but that's okay, because she gets reincarnated. Her new incarnation remembers Fujimoto and all the people in her past life, so she heads to them, even knowing that they probably won't remember her. What she doesn't realize is that Ginsei made a wish for Fujimoto to remember her, and so the two love birds are reunited (never mind that Kobato is 16 or so and Fujimoto is maybe in his late 30s). Suishou, the angel who helped Kobato live a little longer, is still within her until at least her next life, but after that the angel will be reunited with Iorogi.
While requesting manga volumes prior to my vacation, I remembered that I was only one volume away from finishing this series. I figured I should take care of that, but I made a mistake – I should have requested volume 5, and maybe volume 4 too, to remind me of what had happened and who everyone was. I last read those volumes way back in 2014, so I had gotten out of the flow of the series' emotional content, although my volume summaries at least helped me remember some of what was going on.
So, this was more than a bit confusing to get back to. I had forgotten how many crossover characters it had, for one thing. Only 20 pages in, and I'd spotted Chitose, Chi, and her sister (not as the actual characters from Chobits, of course, but rather alternate universe versions of themselves), as well as Kohaku from Wish. It should be noted that Kohaku really is the angel from Wish, and that Kobato is apparently set in the same universe as that series, just a few decades or so later. If I had taken the time to think about the implications of that, the ending might have been less of a surprise.
I still don't know that I'd have seen the ending coming, though, because it was just so much. Like, every happy ending CLAMP could possibly cram in there, whether or not it really fit. If I remember correctly, the original setup for this series indicated that someone would have to make a sacrifice – either Suishou would need to fade away in order for Kobato to live out her life with Fujimoto, or Kobato would need to die for Suishou to be free to go back to Iorogi and for Iorogi to get his original form back. Instead, literally everybody got to be with the person they loved. I like happy endings, I do, but I also want them to feel like they were earned, and this just seemed to fall into everyone's laps. Even though
reincarnation is part of this world's rules
, it still felt kind of like CLAMP had cheated.
I wonder how I'd feel about this series if I hadn't already read Wish? To my mind, this seemed like a cardboard cutout version of that series, with some of the same issues and themes but less tightly focused and with a little less charm. Then again, it's been a while since I've read Wish, and maybe my memories of it are rosier than it deserves. I'll have to add it to my “reread sometime soon-ish” list.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
I know that there's a popular saying that you "shouldn't judge a book by its cover" but we all know that's a load of hooey because if we didn't care about covers then a large portion of the publishing industry would be out of a job. That being said, I totally picked up today's book because of its cover. In fact, it was the UK edition specifically that I coveted and so I ordered a used copy from overseas. It took me a few months to get to it but I truly wasn't expecting what it delivered. The book in question is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. (It's his debut novel.) If you can make it through the first quarter of the book without your jaw dropping or gasping out loud then you're doing well. Warning: If you're squeamish in any way then I must caution you that this book discusses injuries of a severe nature in explicit (and excruciating) detail. It starts with a bang (actually a crash) and the action crests and dips from there. It's the story of a man who finds love in a most unusual way. The story flips between present day and various other times in history (medieval for instance). Honestly, I haven't made up my mind whether or not I really liked this book. I certainly found myself gripped when I was reading it but I always hesitated before picking it back up again. I think a large part of that is the dearth of details which I mentioned before. It felt a bit like overkill much of the time. Also, I didn't feel much of a connection to the characters (except perhaps the psychiatrist at the hospital whose last name I couldn't even begin to pronounce). It's an intricately woven tale and extremely ambitious for a debut novel. Davidson clearly knows his history and I tend to think he must be a hopeless romantic. I'd say this was a 6.5/10 for me.
It's slightly hard to tell from this photo but the edges of the pages are black and the cover gives the appearance of being singed. Foreshadowing, anyone?
(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
This is one of those overdue reviews, since I've had this book on my tablet for quite a while. I remember requesting it partly because of its cover (the paperback one -- by comparison, the Kindle cover on Amazon is pretty bland), which seemed quite ominous to me. What can I say, I'm weak when faced with a certain type of cover.
The plot was intriguing, for sure. A hidden world full of family secrets, alliances to be had, strange magic (the doll people and the potions), ancient feuds, revelations aplenty, and a hidden enemy who's been bidding her time and is now bent on getting what she wants: possibly revenge... or something else? There's almost too much going on at times. At first I thought it would be more a quest-like story, with Olivia going after her mother and braving danger to save her. It didn't turn out like that, but that was alright, the kind of plot and intrigue it led to was pretty fine with me as well.
The characters: we have that girl, Olivia, who knows she's from another world/civilisation, without having been brought up in it, which leaves room for showing this land to the reader, without necessarily having to explain *all* of it, since Olivia already knows part of it and we can dispense with. We have Alfred, rich heir and future boss to a crime family, who's blind almost since birth and goes his way without whining about this—he's used to it, he has trouble with some things but has found ways to cope. Alfred also has to constantly remind other people that he can do, not everything but a lot of things: a conundrum close, I think, to quite a few double standards going around disabled people (pitied and treated like children almost, or blamed for "not making enough efforts" by many, instead of being considered as human beings first and foremost...). There's also Thessia, Alfred's fiancée, who could have been a nasty bitch and/or a jealous whiner, especially since she fits the too-beautiful-to-be-true girl, and turns out to be an idealist, an activist, and, well, a fairly decent person to be around, even though she has her downside (Atlantean rich society seems to be hell-bent on having its girls marry rich heirs, and gods forbid they want to have a career of their own...).
So, all in all, a lot of interesting things here. Unfortunately, a lot more annoyed me, causing me not to enjoy this story in the end.
From the start, something kept nagging at me, and it took me a while to put my finger on it. At some point, the author mentioned when the story originated (more about that later), back when she was still a child or teenager; I think this was what I "felt" about it, for having gone myself through the same conundrum of taking a story I first created when I was 12 or so, and trying to trim it and make it something worth reading. This was something I found extremely hard to do, because what we perceive as wonderful plot twists and concepts when we're younger aren't necessarily good things to leave as is... yet "upgrading" them is easier said than done. And so, I had that strange feeling that I was reading something I might have written when I was younger, and my reaction to it was a little similar. It's hard to explain. I could sum it up with "this feels like a very early work, and it needs more editing."
Another thing that bothered me, when it comes to this theme of parallel/hidden worlds, is how close to ours the latter was, when a parallel world could pave the way to so many other things. Let me develop a bit more by giving a personal example: I grew up in France, with a lot of dubbed TV shows originating from the USA, and at the time I had that fascination for the USA. If I wrote a story, I set it in some imaginary US town. Not my home country, no, it wasn't "good enough": it had to be like the USA, feel like the USA, whatever. Obviously it didn't occur to me at the time that Stephen King, for instance, set his stories in his country because that's what he knew, and that I was under the impression everything was better there only because I hadn't been exposed to shows from other countries. (Bear with me, I was 12-something.) And somehow, the way Atlantis people lived reminded me of this: their world felt like it hadn't been so much evolving as trying to mimic Earth's, and more specifically, well, you guess it. "Everything's better if it looks like our world." Kind of like being promised a walk in quaint little streets with exotic market stalls, and finding yourself in a mall instead—Atlanteans driving Ferraris didn't exactly impress me. I'd stand with Olivia on that one, who was expecting a high fantasy world at first and found a place with chocolate and soda cans instead.
(To be fair, though, all this might still hold more appeal to a teenage audience than it did to me: I also remember thinking "those are plot devices/themes I would've used myself, since I loved them, when I was in my teens." I had that thing going for telepathy and psychic powers in general, and parallel worlds, and "aliens/people with powers coming from those worlds to live hidden on Earth". I seriously doubt I was the only one.)
Third annoying bit: the somewhat sexist, somewhat dismissive way a few characters tended to act. Alfred disappointed me towards the end when it came to Thessia (pretty assholish move to make if you ask me, and then she's left to go away with the equivalent of "kthxbye see ya later, ah women, they always need some time to calm down huh"). Or what I mentioned above regarding heiresses only good enough to marry—any female character with a position/job of her own seemed to be either a villain or a reject/castaway/fugitive, as if no "proper woman" could hold her own. Although was pointed as backwards thinking, I felt a dichotomy, a certain hypocrisy in how it was mentioned, yet the people mentioning it still kept buying into the patriarchal model nonetheless.
Fourth: so many tropes. So, so many. You've got it all: pretty boy with a beautiful fiancée against which the main character feels so plain (but still becomes a love interest fairly quickly); people who were supposed to be dead but aren't; telepathy/psychic powers being used and thrown in in vague descriptions, solving things a little too easily at times; mandatory love triangle; elite school in which talking to The Wrong Person will turn you into a black sheep, instantly, just add water. It felt like a soap opera at times, and since I'm not particularly keen on those, it didn't help.
On the fence: the drawings, comic strips and short inserts. I didn't care about the style, but I can certainly understand the appeal, and who would fault an author for including those and being enthusiastic about it? Not me! However, I think they disrupted the flow of the story in some cases, either by revealing too much about the characters at that specific point or by just being there in the middle (did we really need pictures of the various soda brands?). More annoying though were the written inserts: in between two chapters, we get a bit (twice!) about how the story was born. Not uninteresting, yet... this could and should be put at the end, otherwise it's either disruptive or meant to be skipped, which would defeat the whole point.
Conclusion: could've been for me, but... nope, sorry.