Zaregoto is from Nisioisin, which most of you probably know as the author of Bakemonogatari and Katanagatari, and, as the cover says, the author of the Death Note spinoff, Another Note, but I'm sure to you guys Bakemonogatari is more known. The cover itself may remind you of Katanagatari, since it was done by the same illustrator, Take. Y'know, the guy who likes drawing pretty flower patterns in the hair and clothing of his characters? Yeah, him.
Zaregoto was actually the debut work of Nisioisin and Take. This book was originally released 2002 in Japan. If you haven't heard about it, DelRey decided to publish a translation of it in 2008, and the second volume's translation was finished sometime earlier this year. It'd be nice if the translation project was a tad faster. The long gap between releases worries me, since I've seen many light novels drop mid-translation.
That aside, I'll talk about the actual story itself. The first book takes place on some secluded island owned by some prestigious young lady who likes gathering the world's greatest minds on her island to keep her company. For this cycle of guests, she decided to add a culinary expert, a genius engineer, a world renowned artist, an all genius, and even one of the world's most famous fortune tellers. Along with the engineer, Kunagisa, comes the protagonist of the story, who she calls Ii (we never actually get his full name). Compared to everyone else on the island, he's nothing too special. He did get specialized education before in a very prestigious school, but he dropped out of the program. He's mostly there as Kunagisa's escort, since she wanted him around.
All is fine and dandy. Ii goes around learning about the guests on the island (who are mostly female, aside from the assistant that the artist brought along). Just a laid back vacation, he came simply because he was asked by his close friend, so it isn't as if he had anything in particular planned.
But then, on this secluded island filled with some of the world's greatest minds, a murder occurs. Yes, Zaregoto is actually a mystery novel. As expected, our protagonist takes up the role of detective and tries to solve the case.
The cast is filled with interesting characters, and throws in some nice twists here and there to keep the mystery fresh. In fact, the protagonist of this story reminds me a lot of the average /jp/er in some ways. It's really enjoyable to get into this guy's head, especially in the 2nd novel when you really get to see more about his personality.
Without going any further to prevent spoilers, I have to say that the first novel was quite the enjoyable read. The second novel in the series is even more interesting, but I may save that for another review.
I really recommend anyone out there looking for a nice read to pick this up, even if you're not into light novels. There's certainly not much about the first novel that sets it apart from traditional mysteries, aside from the Japanese names and cutsey Japanese illustrations of the characters at the start of each chapter. If you are into light novels, and haven't read this one yet, then you've got even more reason to pick it up. On Amazon you can find it for fairly cheap right now, but I've no idea when this thing will stop being printed. Not that I'm saying you should pick it up RIGHT AWAY, but it'd probably be a good idea to not wait another year or so to pick this title up.
~ Kirari ミ★