Light Novels, Normal Novels

Growing up, I was exposed to reading quite early on in my life due to my mother's own habits of constantly having a book in her hands. I would usually follow her to the local bookstore where she borrowed her books and find myself consuming much of my free time diving into the various different worlds available to me. Even in school, I used to prefer reading in class as opposed to learning about why my country was oppressed in the past.
Many years later, I am not the same person I used to be, with reading only consuming about 30 minutes of my time before bed or none at all. With more responsibilities stacked on myself, I cannot find, in good conscience, the time to dive into another world when most books nowadays are young adult romance nonsense written up for the sake of getting that six figure movie deal even before publication. I don't want to say all romance books are bad but when you're looking at the mainstream market, stripping away the fantasy and sci-fi themes bring about only a tale about finding romance in an impossible situation.

This is possibly one of the reasons why I find light novels far more enjoyable.

Admittedly, most light novels feature harems or an underlying romance plot, but those are the ones I tend not to read. Books like Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! and the Monogatari novels are examples of light novels that I have read or plan on reading. I have quite a number of others as well like No Game No Life for example.

So, it would seem like I prefer reading these novels because of the high fantasy setting with a focus on action, adventure and comedy. Fair point but when it comes down to it, light novels simply provide a very different experience from regular novels and one that I quite enjoy.

Light novels, for one thing, are light. They aren't as long as conventional novels, which would explain why they are usually split into a multitude of different volumes as opposed to simply, say, a trilogy. Having something short that I can read and finish relatively quickly is rather inviting considering my lack of time.

Besides that, light novels are written in a completely different style from conventional novels. If conventional novels are your Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, light novels are your Dragon Ball and One Piece. They're written with the primary knowledge that what you're picturing should be anime-esque characters with all the tropes that come along with it.

Speech dis-fluency (the erms, huhs and ahs) marks a major use in light novels, giving it a more casual aura rather than the almost overly formal display of regular novels. Heck, some conversations even feature SOLELY ellipsis ('...') rather than any word text at all! These speech patterns, for a lack of a better word, feature quite heavily in many animes (though not quite visually represented) and is the reason why animes can adopt a variety of humour types very well (deadpan, hyperbolic, etc).

These humour types shine through in light novels based solely on the idea that the reader is picturing an anime instead of the real world. The reading process speeds up in moments where the reader understands that hyperbolic humour is coming into play and changes character voices when deadpan humour arrives. You can't simply stick this into a conventional novel due to the sheer comical exaggeration that usually never occurs in real life.

Light novels are also usually a little more straightforward in their storytelling. It gets right to the point and whenever it does decide to trail off the path, it doesn't get very far before turning right back. Of course, this could just be a matter of translation transitions, in which the original Japanese text is very much altered to reach a more Western market appeal. For example, in Kizumonogatari, most of the wordplay gets lost in translation as there are certain words, culture or spritual references that do not exist outside of Japan and having an explanation for it (say, as a footnote) beats the purpose of its inclusion.

So, the two novels types provide very different experiences. Why can't we love them both? 

Understandably, light novels don't sell as well in Western countries as opposed to Japan simply because the appeal lies in that you enjoy watching anime and thus, can appreciate the style of the light novels. I, in fact, love anime and real life, so I can love them both. But again, the argument goes back to the fact that the Western conventional novel market is saturated by stories I do not want or cannot, at this point in my life, afford to invest time into. Light novels are easier to read, quicker and usually supplemented by an anime that affords a more unique experience into the world.

Unless, of course, you decide to read The Testament of Sister New Devil. If that's the case, I think sticking to video games is my best option.


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