Book Review: A Certain Magical Index Volume 9

A Certain Magical Index Volume 9 cover

I hope that everyone has been having a good week, even if the daily grind is not as exciting as the world of fiction.

Things have been going fairly well, aside from problems with the last two preorders, which did arrive when expected, and I at least have a few other books to read while waiting for the last of those two books to be fixed.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those books, which is called A Certain Magical Index Volume 9 by Kazuma Kamachi.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

The Daihasei festival has started and the streets of Academy City are full of outsiders and city residents who all want to enjoy seeing what the espers of Academy City can do.

However, lurking among the crowd, there is somebody that plans to do something that may start a war among the various factions in the magical world, and Touma once again finds him in the middle of something that will affect the entire world.

While many of you guys already know that I am not a huge fan of A Certain Magical Index, even deciding to possibly take a break from this series, I did find some moments where the books really were more enjoyable than the anime adaptations and helped flesh things out, though not as much as A Certain Scientific Railgun.

After reading this, however, I cannot say that I liked this one too much, and makes me wonder if I came back to it too soon.

Fortunately, there were a few things that I liked, so I do not need to skip right into what I hate, thus not giving Kazuma Kamachi a fair shot.

After opening this book and starting to read it, I was pulled right into the world of the Raildex universe and wanted to see what would happen, even though I cannot say that it had my full attention like many of the other books I have read recently, nor was it something that I felt I just had to continue reading.

Compared to other writers, Kazuma Kamachi has often been a hit or a miss, but seeing him be able to capture my interest fairly quickly, like he has with other books in the series, does deserve quite a bit of praise.

If he could have made things just as interesting as the Tree Diagram Remnant and Sisters Arc were, I would have no trouble saying that this series deserves the hype that it gets, much like how Agatha Christie has shown time and again that she deserves the moniker of the Queen of crime.

Hopefully, the hype becomes deserved as I get closer to the end of the content covered by A Certain Magical Index II, since my only reason for following A Certain Magical Index right is, as I stated in my review of the Index movie, that there are those rare occasions in which things go unexplained in A Certain Scientific Railgun, yet are explained in the Index portion of the Raildex universe.

I also liked how there were quite a few things to laugh about.

While many of the funny moments to be found in this volume are pretty much just the same kinds of things found in the series, or even manga, anime, and light novels in general, I did find myself chuckling a bit and really helped to lighten the mood, not that it really had a serious tone like Railgun's Sisters arc or even any of the Index arcs said to come after the Academy City Invasion arc seem to have, the latter of which I cannot verify, and made the ordinary lives of the characters in the Raildex universe quite interesting.

Seriously, if John Grisham could do this much with his work, like Kazuma Kamachi has done with A Certain Magical Index, I might be willing to give him another try, but Grisham seems to have reached the peak of his abilities and the so-called golden period of A Certain Magical Index has yet to be released where I live, unless you want to count the fan translations, so Kazuma could very well fail as miserably as he did in the first and second books of this series.

Right now though, Kazuma does deserve a good amount of applause for staying consistent in one aspect of his writing.

Another thing that I liked how I was not bored at all with the fighting or the actual search that takes place in this volume.

Even though this was not a problem with the previous book in the series, where the star was Kuroko from A Certain Scientific Railgun, who did not come off as annoying as she does in the Railgun anime, instead of Touma or Accelerator, the series as whole did not always have action that was engaging on every level, with the second book in this series being the worst in this aspect, and added to my further annoyance with this series, a series that should not need any spinoffs to explain important details.

However, in this volume, the moment when there was fighting or the characters were on the hunt for somebody or something, I did not want to put this book down for any particular reason, as I felt like I actually wanted them to succeed, which I will not find out until I read the next volume.

I am not too sure about you guys, but it really looks like Kazuma has finally learned how to make the things that are expected to be exciting to actually be exciting, and that means that he is definitely approaching the standard of quality seen in the Railgun series, where practically every fight, except for the battle between Misaka and Touma and Gunha in Railgun's Daihasei Festival arc, which took place in volume 10 of that series, is a must see.

If these moments ended up being as dull as those found in the second book, I would have considered dropping this series altogether and live with just following Railgun, even if things like how Kuroko ended up in a wheelchair go unexplained, because the previous book really raised bar for what I expect from this series and a fan of the series told me that things will only getting better when I get past the events of Index 2.

As such, I think that Kazuma deserves quite a bit of praise for actually improving his craft.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this book ended.

While the books in the Magical Index series have ended in a mostly satisfying way, I was really annoyed when I found out that the Daihasei Festival arc was spread across two volumes, while the previous events only compromised one book, and I was expecting Kazuma Kamachi to mess up big time, since I was even less of a fan of the series than I am now.

Yes, I am not too familiar with the light novel medium, in comparison to manga and books published where I live, and I know of some stories than span multiple books, but Kazuma Kamachi does not have that great of a record when it comes to impressing me with the Index series, though he did do a better job at it than the anime adaptations did, so my skepticism is not really that unwarranted.

However, in this book, the moment I finished reading the last few pages of actual story, I wanted to start reading the next book immediately, which I might do, since the preorders I have been expecting for a while are not entirely as readable at this point as I would have liked.

This how a book with a long story that spans multiple books should end, and Kazuma was able to deliver, even while I was expecting him to fail.

I guess Kazuma is not as horrible of writer as John Grisham has become and I am happy that I waited for both parts of this arc to be released, before buying this volume.

Hopefully, I find the next volume just as good as how this one ended, otherwise the Daihasei Festival arc would be just as horrible in the books as it was in the anime, not to mention that it would become the most pointless book out there.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, because the arc has not concluded at this point.

Because my attention was caught rather quickly, there were things that made me chuckle, the things that were supposed to be interesting and exciting were just that, and the ending was better than I thought it would be, this book was pretty decent.

Although I liked the book, there are some problems.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, only two things bothered, one of which plays a part in contributing to the other.

First, the chapters found in this book felt like they were way too long.

Yes, A Certain Magical Index does have some massively long chapters, with section breaks, but even after 9 volumes, I still find it difficult to sit down and read an entire chapter because things feel like they drag on and on.

Light novels are supposed to be short and quick reads and long chapters do not help in making a light novel feel light, especially when there are only a hundred or so pages less than the works of fiction found where I live.

Do the Japanese not really get that, apart from adding in the usual comedic moments found in anime and manga?

I am not really too sure, but terribly long chapters lead into the thing that I hated the most about this book, which was how it did not have my full attention, even when noise levels were at a preferable level.

Throughout my entire time reading this, I felt like there were just as many, if not more, moments where I felt like I could just put down this book and walk away as I found in John Grisham's The Whistler.

While those moments in John Grisham's work was because of John Grisham himself, and how the book industry seems to let him get away with whatever he wants, these dull moments come not only because Kazuma cannot seem to write a completely interesting story around Touma and make the other Index characters seem interesting, but he also ends most of his chapters at places where I do not feel like I really need to continue reading.

How can anybody say this is a great series when most of the chapters do not have some kind of hook, and the story is only interesting when certain characters should up, only one of which is actually considered a protagonist in the series?

I know that sure cannot, because readers want a story to be interesting regardless of which character currently has the focus, in addition to giving the right amount of focus to the right characters, since the Sisters arc and Tree Diagram Remnant arc can only be fully enjoyed by those who follow both A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun.

Do you think that you can really attract avid readers by doing this, Kazuma? Maybe, it will make those that like Magical Index read more books, but it sure will attract any new fans to the series, nor will it ever fully impress people like me.

Unfortunately, it will probably a while before I see any improvement, because Yen Press does not have this series on schedule that is as predictable as Viz Media's releases of Detective Conan and Seven Seas Entertainment's releases of A Certain Scientific Railgun, and I am just fine with that, since this series is not as high of a priority to me as the other two.

If anybody is considering going into writing, please do not what Kazuma Kamachi did here, because it is almost as bad as what the online community makes Sword Art Online to be, even if I do acknowledge that SAO does have somethings that writers should never have in a story, and will only help you garner a terrible reputation, maybe even putting your name on a list of authors to avoid.

Fortunately, Kazuma did not do anything else that would make himself look as bad as, if not worse than, John Grisham, which gives me some incentive to continue reading this series.

While there were only two issues, one of which helped create the other, those issues were bad enough to take this book from being decent to just being okay.

Despite the fact that there were things to like, the negatives outweighed them enough to make this only good enough to kill time.

I only recommend this to fans of A Certain Magical Index, because they are the only ones that might find this enjoyable, while those, who like me, prefer Railgun and others may have a hard time really getting into this book.

If you have read this book, what are your thoughts on A Certain Magical Index Volume 9? Please leave a comment and let everyone know why you liked it or hated it, especially if your reasons differ from mine.

Also, if you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon, so that I can continue find more worthwhile reads and even see if Magical Index really deserves the hype it gets.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.