Book Review: “Book Girl and the Captive Fool” by Mizuki Nomura

Warning: This review contains some spoilers for the light novel “Book Girl and the Captive Fool” by Mizuki Nomura. If you haven’t read this book, I’d suggest reading through it so you’re not surprised by spoilers.

I’m back with another book review after so long! In light of Halloween coming up soon, I thought it would be great to head back to the “Book Girl” series by Mizuki Nomura and check out the third book in the series this time, namely “Book Girl and the Captive Fool.” Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

When Tohko learns that someone is vandalizing books in the school library, she immediately launches an investigation. After all, there is hardly a more serious crime imaginable to a literature-eating goblin! Of course, Konoha is pulled (reluctantly) into his capricious club president’s latest obsession, and when the culprit is caught, his penance is to participate in a play that Tohko has decided to organize for the school’s cultural festival. Just as Oscar Wilde posited that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life,” Konoha begins to notice similarities emerging between the circumstances that led to the vandalism of the library books and the relationships borne out in the literature club’s play. The sometimes-frightening ties between people force Konoha to reexamine his understanding of true friendship…but will Konoha’s newfound openness only leave him more vulnerable to betrayal?”

I’ve already reviewed the first two books (namely “Suicidal Mime” and “Famished Spirit”), and I think out of all the ones I’ve read so far, this one in the series is the most straightforward plot-wise and definitely the book with the most development I’ve seen for Tohko and Konoha! The book also brings back Takeda from the first book, which was really nice, and though she didn’t play a major part in the story it helped to give some continuity to the series overall. Kotobuki also comes back, as well as the ever-so-stalker-like Maki who will do anything to get more pictures of Tohko. Both of them did not play a major role in the story, either, but they helped to lighten the mood of the book when things got a bit dark.

Going back to the development of Tohko and Konoha, I really liked the development that both of them had in this book. Konoha’s past is more revealed, and it turns out the poor guy’s penname that he used when he published his book was the same name of a girl he liked in middle school. Unfortuantely, said girl he liked in middle school ended up dying by suicide, and the trauma hits him deeply. There is no holding back when it came to Konoha’s feelings surrounding her death, and Konoha making parallels between that past situation and the current situation was really interesting to read overall for as of how he dealt with that trauma and how he’s starting to move on with the help of Tohko, realizing that he does see her much like a friend at this point—and a close one, too.

Tohko herself also developed a bit. She’s still a bit childish, granted, but her wild imagination and elaboration of the things she talks about is linked back a bit to the reveal that she is unable to taste regular human food in real life. Whether it’s simply because she’s a being that literally eats books and paper or because of some other reason is unknown, but that simple fact really helped me understand her a bit more. The fact that she can’t taste regular human food gives her more reason to have such a wild imagination, and she often describes the “taste” of books as if they were culinary delights.

Something I also enjoyed about Tohko’s character was that it was her that helped out Akutagawa. Granted, Konoha also helped as well, but it was mainly Tokho driving the train of recovery. When Akutagawa freezes up during a performance of the play that Tohko organized, Tohko straight-out improvises on the spot and communicates to him that it’s about time to move on from the past, and that despite all the bad stuff that happened with him, he should try to move on. This is what gives Akutagawa the motivation to move on, and it’s fair to say that this book has a happier ending than the first two books did. I also admit I cried during this part, mainly because just before this part of the book there was a lot of heavy, more saddening parts, and then there is this part which brings a lot of relief and closure to the characters involved in it. It is not often I cry when reading a book, especially if I’m crying due to it being well-written, so kudos for that.

Speaking of the main situation that Tohko was involved with, I thought the main plot was really fun and interesting to read overall, and I could not put down this book until I finally read through the entiriety of it. It got particularly saddening by seventy-five percent through the book, and the build-up to that point was well written. All of the characters involved in the main plot contributed well to that plot. I wish I could say more about it, but then I’d end up spoiling the whole novel.

Overall, I’d give this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars!

This is definitely my favourite book in the “Book Girl” series so far, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s interested in references to other books, great character development and a plot that keeps you reading until the last page.

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