There are some inevitable things in the universe. If a conversation covers used books, then one of these inevitable things must surely be the town of Hay-on-Wye. It’s a lovely town, by the way. (Yes, of *course* I’ve been. Do you not know anything about me yet? I’ve been a bibliophile for many years more than I’ve been an otaku)
And indeed, the inevitable happens at the beginning of the fourth Read or Die Light Novel. Yomiko is let loose by her caretaker Wendy for two hours in Hay-on-Wye. And of all the books Yomiko wants most, the only copy is in the hands of someone else. He’s a nice-looking Chinese man, perhaps a little older than Yomiko. He genially suggests that they play rock-paper-scissors for it…and they do. Minutes pass into hours as they keep tying on “paper.” When Yomiko wins by suddenly switching to “scissors” he asks her flat out if she is a Paper User. They discuss her love of books, but she doesn’t tell him why she wants this particular book – one especially beloved by her mentor and lover, Donny.
Upon returning to London, a thin plot about a piece of the original paper that the Guttenberg bible was printed on is wrapped thinly around three things: 1) The guy Yomiko met in Hay-on-Wye is a member of the nefarious “Dokusensha,” an evil organization that is trying to do the exact same things the British Library is trying to do – but for the bad guys, which is to say, not us. 2) Dokusensha has a Paper User too, and this allows us to have wonking great battles on the North Sea and then over London (in which references were made to H.G. Wells) and 3) Nenene.
Oh, yes, although this entire novel takes place in the UK, Nenene decides to arrive just as Dokusensha invades the British Library and take her hostage. This gives Yomiko the opportunity to not just have a wonking cool battle over London – she on her paper airplane, Dokusensha with their paper dragon that comes up the Thames – but to rescue Nenene and be her hero. Nenene’s hero. With hugs, and tears, and protestations of “don’t scare me like that” and “I don’t ever want to be apart from you,” and “I want to be with you forever.”
A new character is introduced by the way…and no, it’s not Nancy. Not yet, hold your horses. She comes in the next novel. This time it’s Faust. Like Mr. Gentleman (a name that makes me think of Lewis Carroll every time I read it,) Faust is very old. 400 years of very old. Unlike Mr. Gentleman, he’s lived every one of those years in a 10-year old boy’s body. He looks, honestly, like Junior with his hair cut short and a “I know something you don’t” smile. He was a nice addition to the team, because while his abilities are strictly in the not-dying capacity, he’s a good strategist and a fast thinker. That leaves Yomiko and Drake to carry out the tactics, which works well.
I definitely like it best when Nenene and Yomiko are together and I’m very much hoping that that will be pretty much the rest of the series.They make a very cute couple, whatever they think they think about one another.
Art – 5
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 4
Service – 2
Overall – 7
Nenene and Yomiko are together for less than 10 pages and every last one of them filled me to satisfaction.