Even before the light novel boom started, Yen Press was releasing Book Girl in English. Now author Mizuki Nomura returns with a sort-of sequel series, Bond and Book, which Yen Press has also picked up. However, the market for light novels has changed significantly since Book Girl was released, so will this series be able to stand out and impress? Let’s find out!
The story follows Musubu, a high school boy who can hear the voices of books and often finds himself helping out those in need. He’s also dating Princess Yonaga, a book that gets extremely jealous if Musubu reads or talks to any other kind of literature, so whenever Musubu lends a hand, it’s forever at the peril of upsetting his girlfriend.
Bond and Book is made up of five different stories that see our protagonist getting involved with a wide range of cases. These range from helping a book find its former owner, solving the case of someone being possessed by the spirit of a story and helping a light novel author whose novels aren’t selling as well as he’d hoped. In each of these short tales, Musubu first comes across the book that needs his help, then gives it a nickname and promises to do everything he can, sometimes relying on the help of his best friend Haruto.
The story surrounding the lost book (who gets called Pippi) is highly emotional as Pippi explains to Musubu that her owner adored her, but one day left her behind at a train station. That was a few years ago now so Musubu has his work cut out for him if he wants to find the girl, but even once he does, will she want the book back?
This one is especially interesting since it deals with the concept of a reader growing up and how the books we loved in childhood may not be something we appreciate today depending on how our experiences have changed our lives. Even just growing from elementary school age up to high school can change our opinions a great deal. Sometimes we can be afraid to revisit something we dearly loved and that’s certainly a big part of Pippi’s storyline as well.
I appreciate that Bond and Book mixes emotional storylines in with some lighter ones, like the tale about the light novel author. In this one Musubu doesn’t have a lot to do because ultimately he can’t magically make the books sell, but it’s still fun to see him interact with the personality of the book as he reads it for himself and gives the author advice based on the feedback the books themselves are yelling out. There’s also an entertaining sequence where Musubu tries to make the series popular by getting Haruto to walk around reading it (he’s a trendsetter, thanks to being the most popular boy at school).
What’s obvious from this series is that author Mizuki Nomura loves books just as much as our protagonist here does. Every book that Musubu helps is a real piece of literature (not just from Japan, but also from plenty of other countries) and their storylines loosely relate to the original work. You can still enjoy Bond and Book without knowing much about the books featured (especially since Musubu often gives a short overview of them), but there is certainly an extra layer of enjoyment for people who are already aware of the works.
I admit that going into Bond and Book, I was concerned about the fact I have never read Book Girl and how much I might miss out on because of that. Thankfully this proved to be a non-issue and I can say that this book stood on its own just fine (although I do want to go and buy Book Girl now, so potentially hazardous for readers’ wallets!). I think the biggest drawback is that we’re missing out on knowing how Musubu and Princess Yonaga came together since it’s alluded to that the protagonist of Book Girl made that happen. Knowing this would likely have made Princess Yonaga a more likeable character too since here she largely just exists to be a tsundere archetype and threaten Musubu for reading anything but her. Hopefully, future entries in the series will be able to smooth that out.
As previously mentioned, Bond and Book comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Nicole Wilder. The translation reads well with no issues to note. This release is a lovely hardback with a fold-out colour image at the beginning. Illustrations are handled by Miho Takeoka, who also worked on Book Girl. The character designs look like they came straight out of an early 2000s series, but I appreciate that they’re in keeping with the style of Book Girl. Bond and Book is ongoing in Japan with five volumes and Yen Press has Volume 2 titled Bond and Book: The Long, Long Good-Bye of “The Last Bookstore” scheduled for a release in March.
Overall, Bond and Book is a real treat for book lovers everywhere with its unique premise and passionate author. The fact it’s made up of short stories means none of the storylines outstays their welcome, but most importantly it also means there is sure to be a story here that readers will be able to relate to among the selection.