Hey I saw on your twitter that you had the first volume of the Sword Art Online light novels, and I was wondering what are your thoughts on it?

Cody Russell
Are you asking about the storytelling or the translation? Oh well, I'll discuss both.
The first volume of SAO is a good showcase for Kawahara's flaws and strengths as a writer. It's a solid YA fantasy with some neat world-building details that unfortunately stumbles when it comes to character and plot cohesiveness. Despite the compelling premise, there's no real sense of movement in the plot. It ambles and stumbles across its plot points, and none of the cathartic moments felt earned. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot as a standalone novel.
The translation is good, with some spotty localisation choices here and there. It's not really accessible to those who have not had exposure to anime and manga. Its handling of honorifics is inconsistent. The prose is generally well-written and flows well, but I think this translator overuses idioms that sound unnatural for Kirito's narrative voice.
I bought the novel so I could do an in-depth comparison with the Japanese version, which I also own. Would you readers be interested in seeing translation critiques on my blog? It would take some time to write, but I personally think this sort of stuff is very interesting.

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