I’m going to preface this review by stating that I read the first edition of the novel before Kodai updated it with edited revisions.
I decided to read this novel on a couple of reasons. One: The allure of secret organizations and ancient alien conspiracies intrigued me and two: The author is an anime fan. And yes, I do prioritize my reading with fellow anime fans (sad, I know). And despite me not having read a hard-core military science fiction novel before, I decided to tackle this novel. And I’m pretty sure that the behemoth of a novel (360K words, that is) tackled me back with as much force, if not double the force, I tackled it. But conquer it, I did!
I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting. Perhaps something like Gundam 00 where there was a healthy sprinkling of politics with lots and lots of gundams and fighting and angsty characters to feel sorry and root for. Angsty characters was the one thing I didn’t get, which was a little disappointing considering how long this war was going on. I did, however, get a handful of female soldiers who felt more like high school gossip queens rather than actual soldiers. The more mature females, thankfully, never acted as such and seemed to be independent, strong, capable-minded females (which is always a blessing when the military is involved). There was also a ton of politics, more politics than I had thought. Though anyone who follows politics would probably not have a problem with this, me being someone who doesn’t follow politics and knows nothing beyond the basics was just a little bit lost. I found myself having to backtrack and make sure I had the terms correct, and I still don’t think I have the terms correct.
Being such a behemoth of a novel, I think it would be a good thing for Mr. Okuda to take out the “obvious” and cut down on words. There were a number of instances where he used “obviously” or “clearly” to showcase something when it could’ve been either deleted out entirely or re-worded to actually show the reader something instead of telling the reader something.
Despite some of the problems I had with the novel, I did enjoy the battle between the two secret societies. They were always there in the forefront, and yet no one knew they were there. I think it’s fair to say that’s how the Masons operate, too. The plot is a tour de force that really seems quite realistic with so many characters that blurred the line between good and bad. The plot never strays, despite the amount of subplots and personal missions there were. For that, I applaud Kodai.
There was this line at the end of the novel that really showcased the amount of research put into the book:
“…Our methods of radiocarbon dating and nuclear decay analysis cannot take into account the effects of quantum and subquantum energies, which the scientists of the twentieth century knew nothing about.”
There’s a lot of talk in the scientific world about this, especially in the world of ancient alien theorists, and it really pleased me to see this discussion come up at the end of the book when they were talking about where man originated from. Most people probably would have never even brought it up, but to bring it up showcases how far along in research the people are and how aware the characters are of the ever-evolving world of science. The epilogue brings up quite a bit of things to look for in upcoming books that intrigue me more than the current book.
The vast world in the book is also very detailed. I don’t think there’s any stone left unturned when Kodai Okuda wrote this novel. Everything has a very detailed past and every machine and weapon has a very detailed list of specs to go with it. And if you have any trouble remembering anything, one just needs to visit Kodai’s website to view the encyclopedia he built of his world. Which, by the way, comes in handy.
Overall: the novel is very lengthy and I think some of the narrative could use some tightening. Despite those shortcomings, the plot and characters kept me interested all the way to the very last page.