Review of Reki Kawahara’s SAO: VOL. 26: UNITAL RING V

Sword Art Online Light Novels, Vol. 26: Unital Ring V by Reki Kawahara

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s difficult to hold attention after twenty-six volumes (give or take) with roughly the same theme. And I admit that I didn’t understand why Kawahara-san insisted on having two different plot lines for the Unital Ring arc. (Frankly, I still don’t) One mystery seemed sufficient, particularly as it brought Argo back into the narrative and allowed for the exploration of different Seed games on one playing field. Which at least received some fair treatment this time around – without the usual monopoly by Kirito and Asuna that predominates so many other volumes. That, at least, was refreshing.

And I appreciate the deepening of the Underworld mystery side of things. The exploration of the base on Admina demonstrates exactly how far the world progressed in the accelerated time. To say nothing of offering a glimpse into the time Asuna and Kirito spent there between Moon’s Cradle and now (a narrative readers never had the chance to explore). But the diversion is so separate from the Unital Ring story. There’s no connecting link between the two (I hazard to add “yet”), leaving them to read as two separate volumes. Bouncing between them feels like two books haphazardly thrown together to save on publishing costs. And it isn’t satisfactory on either side.

Then there’s the matter: Kawahara-san ended in the worst cliffhanger yet, failing even to finish a sentence. That’s something he hasn’t dared before. It comes across as clumsy and awkward. Readers know that each volume leads into the next (and it was obvious nothing reached a conclusion here); there was no reason to fall back on such a cheap literary trick.

The next volume needs to deliver more. Much more.

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Author: Andria Kennedy

I speak the thoughts rattling around in my brain, sharing topics I think other people want and should hear (or are afraid to talk about themselves). I bring my personality and quirky state of mind to everything I write; serious topics shouldn't be devoid of humor. That includes my blog and freelance work (part of my charm). I've been writing for as long as I can remember. It's a source of solace and enjoyment for me. I'm lucky enough to call what I love my career - so it's NOT work! I live in Virginia with the Minions (four cats and a Greyhound) and my wonderful husband, who ensures I stay fed - no cereal for dinner - and as close to sane as I can get.

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