Book Review: Secret Volume 1

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I guess I should be lucky that nothing has happened, huh?

As I have mentioned already, I recently got three books from Barnes & Noble during recent sale that was apparently happening both online and in stores.

So far, I have covered each book until one remained.

Today, I will be reviewing that remaining title, which is called Secret Volume 1 by Yoshiki Tonogai.

On their way to the place where they were supposed to take their class trip, the students of class D end up in a bus accident where only six survived.

Even though all six have recovered enough to attend school, they have counseling to go through, and for their final session, they are told that they must find three murderers who hiding amongst the six of them within a week or they will be turned into the police.

However, when strange things started happening around the six survivors, they must not only find the three murderers so that their secrets do not get out, but also to survive another day.

I kind of liked this book.

After having read Doubt and Judge, I was wondering kind of what Yoshiki Tonogai was going to try next.

After all, I highly doubt that Yoshiki Tonogai could come up with another interesting game of death, though in terms of a death game, Doubt provided probably the most interesting scenario, at least if it was handled properly.

Here, it does not seem like there is any sort of game going on at all, just a threat that sort of sounds like blackmail.

This makes me think that Yoshiki Tonogai may be trying to go for a story that focuses more on its mystery element rather than its horror element, not that the mystery aspect of Yoshiki Tonogai's other two series did not outshine their horror elements, since I think that Doubt gave me a better vibe of creepiness than Judge did.

Of course, most of the work Yoshiki Tonogai has done seems to have been placed under the horror, but I still would be quite interested in seeing him try a mystery story that was not necessarily in the horror genre.

I also liked how believable things were in this work, at least of what little I say does make some sense.

For example, when one of the six survivors received a message that his crimes would be revealed if he did not kill the teacher, he decides to go after both the teacher and the one behind everything.

Seeing as the teacher that was seen at the beginning of the book was pretty sure that there were three murderers within the group of six that the story focuses on, I would certainly believe that one of the killers would make a move like this, since it is not unusual for murderers to try and silence witnesses or people who find out the truth.

Another thing that was somewhat believable is that one or more characters decide that they cannot really trust others because of the possibility of three murderers being among them.

While it seems like a pretty stupid idea, even to me, with how many stories and manga series I have read that fit into the detective and crime fiction genres, in addition to the mystery genre, people do not always make the best decisions, so I cannot say that I would try to learn more about people like my knowledge of the troubleshooting steps of the computer world and from extensive reading would tell me to do.

I also liked how Yen Press seemed to keep things intact with this volume.

Back in Judge Volume 6, Yen Press seemed to have scenes repeat unnecessarily and skipped content that was relatively important to understanding things.

Even though Yen Press did not make these same mistakes in the penultimate volume of Pandora Hearts, the fact that mistakes like those still kind of linger in my memory.

Fortunately, nothing within the pages of this book even suggested that something was missing, so that does not mean that I have would have to go searching for online scans, or even be forced to check and see if somebody has the Japanese version of this volume, so that I can make sure that it was not the author's fault.

This makes me want to give Yen Press some credit for doing a good job and give them more of a chance than until the final volume of Pandora Hearts is released where I live.

However, just because two volumes of different series was handled properly by a publisher, it does not mean that they have improved at all.

For now, I will need to check out a few more books from them and see if they are able to maintain this kind of quality, which I would have been able to do, if I was able to get all three volumes of this series.

The thing that interested me the most though was why exactly the teacher decided to have the students weed out the murderers and tell them to find a way to suffer.

While the characters themselves wonder why the teacher is doing this, instead of just turning the three into the police, as he knows who they are and has the evidence to prove it, I think that there is some kind of hidden motive behind it all.

Now, I do not get this feeling from the contents of the book itself, but considering that the ones responsible for the events of Judge and Doubt were motivated to do what they did out of desire for vengeance, I think that Mitomo may have some kind of connection the bus accident and one or more of the people found dead because of it, especially since flashbacks of the incident on the bus seem to crop up quite a bit in the pages of this volume.

Then again, seeing as how Mitomo was there to help the six survivors deal with the accident, I do not really think that schools are going to hire somebody that does have a connection to the incident, though it is not entirely impossible, much like a judge being the true mastermind of a crime that is being tried is somewhat possible, but the jury is not going to convict the judge instead of deciding whether the defendant is innocent or guilty, if a judge were really able to preside over a trial for a crime that he or she committed and successfully framed an innocent person.

Still, that does not change the fact that the previous works from Yoshiki Tonogai makes me think that Mitomo has some kind of grudge against three of the six survivors, and the fact that I want to find out makes me want to read the final two volumes right now.

Outside of those things, I cannot really think of anything else that I particularly liked, seeing as I do not know what exactly is going to be important and what is not.

The fact that Yoshiki Tonogai seems to be focusing more on a mystery than a death game and that some of the things the characters do is somewhat believable, as well as the fact that I think the teacher may some kind of grudge against three of the six survivors, makes this a pretty decent start to the final series of the Doubt trilogy.

Although I did like the book, there some issues.

However, aside from something that might be a major, if not obvious, spoiler and another thing that seems to be the true mystery in this series, I can only think of one thing that bugged me.

The way this volume ended was not that great.

While the events that happened made sense and made me want to keep on reading, in order to find out how they were related to each other, I kind of lost interest the moment the first murderer was revealed.

Yes, this series is a short one, with only three volumes, but it really hurts the book because the mystery of who the three murderers are takes a backseat to the mystery that I noticed within this volume.

According to the summary from Yen Press, which can be found at the link I provided at the start of this post, the mystery is supposed to be about finding out the identities of the three murderers.

Seeing as Yoshiki Tonogai creates both the story and artwork for most of the titles from him that I have read, I am kind of disappointed, because he usually seems to handle the mystery aspects of his titles fairly well, though definitely not in the realm of being perfect.

Have you already lost your touch, Yoshiki? I certainly hope not, but considering that this series ended at only three volumes, and the summaries from Yen Press kind of spoils things, I kind of doubt that Yoshiki Tonogai was able to make this series absolutely great, though I will have to wait to get the other two volumes, since I intended to review the series as a whole, instead of volume by volume, like I usually do, seeing as Yen Press already released all three volumes.

For now, I just hope things pay off when I finally get the last two volumes, otherwise it would not have been worth it to even try out this series.

Not only does the fact that the first murderer was revealed ruin things, but the things that happen after it do not really get me excited to read the next volume.

Once the first murderer was revealed, that person ends up on the roof, where he confesses his crime and then jumps off the roof of the school, leaving things at a cliffhanger of whether the first of the three killers is dead or not.

Even though cliffhangers are a bit of a necessity to create a reason to continue on with a series, it is really important to have that cliffhanger be at the right spot to create that interest.

In the case of this volume, that perfect spot to end the volume was just prior to the point of when the identity of the first killer was revealed.

If it had ended right there, I would have wanted to go out and get the next volume right now, in order to find out who received the message to kill Mitomo and why they made their move.

However, because the people who compiled the chapters into this volume decided to put the big reveal at the end of this volume, instead of the beginning of the next, I kind of lost interest in wanting read the volume, and I certainly would not be looking to read the next volume, if I was not interested in finding out if Mitomo instigated everything out of a desire for vengeance like Hiroyuki from Judge and Rei Hazama from Doubt did.

Really, Square Enix? Do you actually think ending on revelations like this makes an interesting volume?

From what I am seeing here, this nothing but a disappointment, especially since Square Enix was responsible for publishing the Japanese version of Pandora Hearts, according to Baka-Updates Manga.

The Pandora Hearts volumes pretty much all ended in a way that made me want to find out more, so Square Enix definitely knows when to end volumes to make them the most interesting, but the fact that they have it end by revealing the first of the killers, which I am now suspecting that they allowed Yoshiki Tonogai to do, it hurt both the ending and the mystery, which means that Square Enix seems to be much more responsible than Yoshiki Tonogai.

While how the volume ended was its only bad aspect, the fact that Square Enix and Yoshiki Tonogai allowed things to end like this does hurt the quality of the book quite a bit.

Despite the fact that there were some things to like about this book, especially since Yen Press did not seem to do anything wrong, the fact that Yoshiki Tonogai and Square Enix ended this volume at the worst possible place makes this book only good enough to kill time.

I only recommend this to fans of Yoshiki Tonogai, because the mystery element was ruined pretty badly here.

What are your thoughts on Secret Volume 1? Did you like it or hate it? Was there anything that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.