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From Yen Press:
In the year 2022, gamers rejoice as Sword Art Online-a VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) like no other-opens its virtual doors, allowing players to take full advantage of the ultimate in gaming technology: NerveGear, a system that allows users to completely immerse themselves in the game world by manipulating their brain waves to create a wholly realistic gaming experience. But when the game goes live, the elation of the players quickly turns to horror as they discover that, for all its amazing features, SAO is missing one of the most basic functions of any MMORPG-a log-out button. Now trapped in the virtual world of Aincrad, their bodies held captive by NerveGear in the real world, users are issued a chilling ultimatum: conquer all one hundred floors of Aincrad to regain your freedom. But in the warped world of SAO, "game over" means certain death-both virtual and real...
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Spoiler (mouse over to view)
I came upon this novel by a chance and fell in love right away, the main reason being that I'm a gamer and have wished for virtual reality games for a long time. The romance aspect of a single pairing with no interference of a harem was also very attractive to me.
With that said, I read through the first 2 volumes at an astonishing rate and absolutely loved it. I like loner characters like Kirito and when he later finally got together with Asuna I was delighted, the getting together part was a bit hurried I think, but overall it was an awesome novel.
After reading the first two volumes I was curious what happened to Asuna so I continued reading. I was shocked by how much the main character changed from the first arc, it's obvious he would change after his experiences in SAO, but not this much - an introverted, gloomy loner became a cheerful and carefree playboy. Another disappointment came with the introduction of a new heroine madly in love with Kirito and the first hint of a possibility of a harem, but because of the situation Asuna found herself in he didn't pay any attention to it so it was still ok.
With a lot of skepticism, hoping it would improve, I moved on to GGO arc. How great was my disappointment when I found out Kirito not only further developed his horrible character from ALO (with the hint of a brat and a crybaby) but also became a womanizer with a "soft spot for beauties" as the author himself describes. After finishing half of this arc I decided to stop reading this novel for good.
As a final verdict I have to say that this novel should have ended with the first arc and it would absolutely deserve a rating higher than 9/10, the way it is now however I'm so disappointed with it that I won't even rate it.
I am totally absorbed, I can re-read this book everyday and still enjoy it O.o Guilty that I don't put this book down except doing daily need when I 1st started until i read all avaiable volumes.
It scored the highest rating I ever give, I never give 10 to anything, so 9.5 is the highest.
totally unexpected. id seen this novel link in baka-tsuki page long time ago, but stayed away from reading it thinking it a novel based on available online game right now. most of manga based on online game doesnt really interest me since it feel flat.
im glad i read this novel today though..very good story. u could read the vol 1 for stand alone story. vol 2 is more like sidestory which fill the gap between the two years that the 1st vol skim by. which i dont really care.
Vol 3 is the real sequel. which pick up after vol 1 ended. quite a twist to the story though. im looking forward to kirito's new adventure.
OMG!!!! this is wat im looking for!!!! whole in one package!!!!. action, romance,and of course great plot.highly recommended .Hope this will turn into anime or manga..
... Last updated on February 19th, 2010, 11:56am
The Unique ONE
is a history where you actually feel like if you were feeling the same as the characters and (this is only mi gues but..) Akihiko Kayaba's Dream may be the final stage to the author if you think about it the climax of all this event´s only could be a maximun battle in other dimension or New World, and in the other subject well... the Romantic subplot if you read the side history "There is but one ultimate way" you already gasp the idea so is no use to say any spoiler, but what is going to happen whit YUI in the end i belive that is too soon to say someting.
PD: nice one baka-tsuki, just after a couple of days they already have the vol.10 and I hope that they translate it, the faster the better
... Last updated on July 12th, 2012, 7:24pm
I recommend vol 1 for everyone. After that it depends
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Regarding the romance, it developed at the speed of sound for a shounen, though it is perhaps understandable since some parts have been left out, there is mutual attraction and flirting with death every day kinda does that to people (they tend to say some incredibly corny things).
Vol 3+4 is about another game where in-game death doesn't mean death in real life, it's like every other normal MMO game (except for the 'sinister' plot of the main villain). As the author himself explained, he tried to tell a different story without the convenient 'permanent death' plot device, since such an evil game doesn't exist in real life and relying on it would mean all the emotions the author felt while playing normal MMORPGs were fake. While I certainly applaud his noble intentions and greatly enjoyed the almost surreal Jötunheimr arc in vol 4, it is evident that the main story and the MC's efforts would have amounted to nothing of note but for the unrealistic plot of the main villain. It would have been just another tale about gamers competing in an online game among thousands of online games (and truthfully people have gotten fed up with such things). So here is an author trying not to use an unrealistic trope, while still opting for another.
Tropes aren't inherently bad, that 'permanent death' plot device he avoids makes the drama and tragedies real, and arguably even more real than all the 'disney deaths' in stories with real-life settings, since dead characters in SAO never come back. The trope makes every fight the hero undertakes a heroic, selfless and perhaps reckless course of action. And I dig that. But he chose not to reuse it, to vindicate his own belief at the expense of suspense and significance of the characters' struggle, whose only meaning then was to thwart the villain's plan. There was still nothing wrong at that point. But the villain turned out to be predictable and unsympathetic, his plot was simply depicted as a gesture of madness. It could have been much more.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Researching into memories, thoughts and feelings is an absolutely grand project that we're doing even today. Understanding how the brain works has so many great applications when you have the right regulations. Without lies we can solve every crime case, put fraudsters, and many politicians (maybe they are no different from the former) in jail. We can back up our memories and recover lost ones. We can help fight depression, and so many other things... Knowledge does not commit crimes, humans do. How we use it is up to us. Turning people into research subjects without their consent is bad, but since they don't remember anything after the fact and aren't directly harmed, the villain could have at least tried to appear a sympathetic martyr, accepting all kinds of condemnation for the sake of rapid progress (he'd grow old and die before people could agree on such matters, for example). Instead all he could say was that he wanted to be god blah blah blah. Tell me another story where 'science' doesn't try to overcome 'god', whatever that is.
The villain and his plot in vol 1 were much better. He didn't try to justify himself, and while it appeared to be simply madness at first glance, the characters eventually discovered a hint of sense to what he was doing. He was a villain you couldn't hate.
... Last updated on June 2nd, 2011, 5:48am
Brilliant volume 1.
The first volume is perfect for me. Well, not quite, there are some minor things that felt unnatural for me, but overall I loved every single part of it.
However, I can't say the same for the other volumes. I only read 3 and 4, since those are the ones fully translated, and the first part of volume 2. Volume 2 in itself seems to be a nice compliment for 1, so no problems for me there (I have yet to read all of it though), but 3 and 4... I don't know.
They were okay, but just fell to some more annoying cliches than the first volume, which managed to transform what cliches it had into a good part of its story. V1 even had a hint of seinen, while V3 and 4 felt like flat-out shounen for me and had some very ridiculous moments that killed the "magic" I felt from V1. I won't go into spoilers, but V1 actually felt like something possible and reasonable (so to say), while V3 and V4 felt like an impossible scenario given the big mount of incoherent situations.
Maybe it's just me, but the story is going downhill. If it comes down to it, I'll just mentalize myself to think that V1 was all of Sword Art Online. I'l keep my rate at 10 for now, but it's hard to do so. Overall, I agree with Claudiofd. What was written in Claudiofd's comment, is very close to what I felt when reading this.
... Last updated on May 28th, 2011, 10:14am
DO NOT stop after volume 1, it just gets better as the series goes on
I really love this series, I'm even helping edit. But I've just got to know how much of volume 3 claudiofd actually read, because no matter how much it was, it wouldn't be enough. Volume 3/4 are all one big story so if you only read a couple chapters or even the full volume 3 you wouldn't be able to get the same feeling, but once you read all of volume 4 with it you won't be disappointed.
That is not even mentioning volumes 5/6 where you get more of what is going on outside the game and Kirito is using a light saber in a shooting-based game.
In my opinion it is great~~~! I've already seen the anime and i have read up to Volume 10, and i dont find it boring in the least bit! I'm absolutely hoping that the anime gets a second season but until then i shall keep reading the novel. ^.^
Really absorbing... until...
The first arc ended. Well, not precisely- the second arc and on we're still enjoyable and fun the read, but they weren't anything spectacular, whereas the first arc was addicting and generally awesome. The first arc in Aincrad is basically standalone, so of you wanted to just read that, I would recommend it- the story is amazing and exciting; Kirito is amazing and brave, but torn, and the whole premise of being trapped in virtual reality is just cool- I've seen it done, but it rarely disappoints. But after the first arc... It becomes a harem, and Kirito is still awesome, but in a more typical way... And the character development, instead of being good, tends to go in the reverse, haha. Still, it's a fun, exciting read, and I really liked it- just a little disappointed in the following arcs.