.hack// Another Birth Volume 4 (Anglais) Broché – 3 juillet 2007
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.hack//Another Birth #4//Quarantine_by Miu Kawasaki and translated by Duane Johnson, is the final novel in the four novel series of novelizations of the video game series dealing with Akira's search for the reason her brother Fumikazu has lapsed into a coma while playing in The World. The World is an immersive virtual MMORPG, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game that a player has to enter through a FMD, or face-mounted display. Once entered a player has to create an avatar, in the first novel Akira she became the Heavy Blade warrior BlackRose. Once there she was at a loss as what to do next, but she was befriended by series regulars Chimney (a Twin Blade) and Nova (another Heavy Blade) who showed her the ropes. On her second trip back to The World, she met Kite, a Twin Blade who is on the same mission that she is, because as a newbie then, Kite became the companion of Orca who lapsed into a coma after fighting a Data Bug.
During the first three volumes of this series they learned that The World is being hacked and that the problems are being caused by this hacking, and that this hacking is corrupting The World's data stream. They also learn that The World's continuing corruption has something to do with the epic poem "The Epitaph of Twilight" that was written by the mysterious Emma Wielant, and that this poem is the basis of "The Fragment" which itself is the first draft, and which ultimately was the basis of The World. There is also the mystery of who or what Aura is. Aura is an ethereal player character who constantly pops up whenever something major happens in The World, and who seems to have something to do with The World's deterioration.
As Kite and BlackRose's adventures continue, a loose coterie of players will keep popping up to help them in their undertackings, including Lios, an operations administrator, Mistral the Wavemaster, Helba, Balmung, Wiseman, Elk, and others, although we will see the death of one major character. BlackRose and her gang are now in, this last novel, on the offensive instead of being on the defensive, as their assigned series of trials are now nearing their end, and there will be one big boss battle that was probably better in the game than it was in this novel.
The good things in this novel are the same things that were good in the previous novels. The prose by Miu Kawasaki, or at least her translator Duane Johnson, is clean, readable, and does not get in the way of the story, which is a pretty straightforward retelling of the animé. The story is well told, the fights are exciting, and Akira/BlackRose is a well delineated character, even if her personal life gets a rather short shrift this time around. Yet, with this novel the series and the story comes to a definite end, the villains are vanquished, the mysteries are solved, and the problems in Akira's private life are cleared up and things are now on track for her.
The negative things about this series, sadly, remain the same. If you are unfamiliar with the .hack universe then stay away. Little is done to explain things to newbies, and as I've said in previous reviews, a glossary of some kind would have worked wonders. I've never played the game, but I have seen several of the .hack animés and that helped.
Another thing that irked me is that like many novelizations, you will never know what any of the characters look like through Kawasaki's text. Thankfully each of the novelizations has a two page, eight character gallery of these novel's major characters. Then there is also the fact that Waka and Tomcat of CyberConnect2 give us a prodigious amount of illustrations that will illustrate every important part, scene, or character of these novelizations. This fourth book in the series also has the best cover since the first novel, and gives us clockwise, Elk, Kite, BlackRose, Balmung, and Mistral. Another thing is that besides Akira/BlackRose, and to a lesser extent Kite and Mistral, none of these characters have much in the way of personality. In the game I'm sure that they looked good, but in the text they just come across as furniture to populate the landscape. I give the books in this series four stars for the fans of the games, but, non-fans would give them a much lower rating.
For this site I have also reviewed the following books in this series:
1.) .hack//: Another Birth, Vol. 1 (v. 1)
2.) .hack// Another Birth Volume 2//Mutation_ (v. 2)
3.) .hack// Another Birth Volume 3 (v. 3): Outbreak_
4.) .hack// Another Birth Volume 4 (v. 4): Quarantine_
Its a light novel and yet so satisfying to read. It's not the greatest work of modern literary fiction, but it is a fun read and put me in a good mood, honestly I can't ask for much more than that.