Read or Die

Review of Reki Kawahara’s SWORD ART ONLINE: PROGRESSIVE 007

Sword Art Online: Progressive, Vol. 7 by Reki Kawahara

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The deeper you sink into the narrative of the Progressive story arc, the more you admire Kawahara-san’s imagination and storytelling ability. There’s no doubt that he has plans for all fifty floors of Aincrad (recognizing, of course, that you won’t see all fifty), with no duplication of the environmental conditions or monsters populating the terrain. That’s no small feat for an author to pull off. Others have failed within a smaller world. Each level promises something different, with varying twists that keep the progress enticing. Even as you read, you almost regret the knowledge that, looming in the distance, is that fateful final episode.

At the same time, the character development grants you everything you wanted in that initial story. You see the growth and quirks that made you admire everyone from the beginning. All of the questions looming in your mind start finding answers – or at least glimmers and suggestions. It’s a beautiful dance (or perhaps, to steal Kawahara-san’s imagery, symphony) that gains complexity the longer it flows. Always with that bittersweet undercurrent in the back of your mind. So much tragedy lies ahead. You feel it coming, and you want to brace yourself.

The balance he executes is nothing short of genius. My only complaint is how he divides specific volumes – such as this one. The sudden drop in the action and plot make no sense. It isn’t a cliffhanger. Much as I despise those plot devices, I can at least respect them. This is more reminiscent of an author taking their hands from the keyboard and walking away. It leaves the reader turning pages, sure the publisher forgot to add another chapter (or wondering if someone tore them from the book). It needs work.

View all my reviews

Join the Conversation