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Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 1 (1) Paperback – June 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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This story follows a young woman who was sparked to join an armed unit of the library forces due to an experience she had as a little girl. It follows two people (and their group of friends) from a seeming mutual dislike to an incredibly deep love, which gets deeper in every volume. This series has a great balance of action, tragedy, suspense, and romance. It also has a way of making you care about the other on-going romances that occur in the series, which is a sign of great writing--being able to seamlessly balance multiple plots in a way that appears effortless. I've reread this series something like 20 times, and my eyes are still glued to the page every time I start reading.
This series isn't about love triangles or shallow high school romances. So if you're looking for a manga that embodies "Mean Girls," look elsewhere. This isn't that kind of story. It deals with a bunch of men and women who face a reality of any day being their last on a regular basis, so romance and friendship in this series are much slower and more meaningful. It's full of that complexity in relationships that occurs when you become an adult and have to make life decisions. It worries about politics and plays out tactical strategies. It is one of the smartest and sweetest stories I have ever had the pleasure of reading, and I highly recommend reading it.
The story itself is surprisingly poignant. At the heart of the "Library Wars" is a conflict between federal and local governments (Tea Party members take note!). The protagonist has to deal with the frustration of seeing her expectations conflict with practical concerns.
One thing: Ray Bradbury's novella Fahrenheit 451 is referenced (and revered!) in the LW universe but a distinction must be made. In Bradbury's novella *the majority of people stopped reading of their own accord*, the Firemen were actually redundant. In Library Wars, the censors are resented by a significant number (though clearly not a majority) of regular citizens.
I like the parallel between an event that happens during the manga and the event that put Kasahara on the path to becoming a Defense Force member and I thought it was a nice foreshadowing of who her "prince" truly is. There were a few other nice moments in there--Dojo taking the hit to protect Kasahara from the guy she turned her back on was one I really liked (though the aftermath of that and her resulting puffy cheek was a major detractor for me and one I didn't think I was going to be able to get past--thankfully, it didn't happen again and I put it down to a military thing). I also liked how he and the other officers came to back her up during the MBC raid, even though she really wasn't supposed to be doing what she was. And I loved the bear incident, which made me laugh. It was also nice to see that Dojo was trying to make Kasahara feel better and really does care about her, even if he tries hard to hide it. The little bonus strip at the end of that chapter is one of my favorites.
So, a bit of a rocky start to the series for me, but hang in there. It gets dramatically better and it's turned out to be one of my favorite manga series EVER.
Top international reviews
A highly recommended series to any interested in some beautiful art, and a new spin to an old cliche.