Accel World: The Floating Starlight Bridge

By Reki Kawahara and Hima. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen Press.

My last review mentioned that I was more interested in the worldbuilding than the characters with this series, and it’s possible the author heard me, as this fifth novel, the first to not yet be animated, is filled with character development. Haruyuki’s personal issues still exist, but we are reminded that he’s not the only one having a bad time, and Kuroyukihime and Fuko are both dealing with devastating traumas, both involving Brain Burst and the real world, though we get minimal information on the latter. Luckily, this book isn’t simply piling up the angst – there’s a lot of fights going on here, and a race to the top of a brand new level which has a lot to offer everyone.


And there’s also that cover, as you are reminded yet again that this is a series filled with very young teens. That said, it fits well with the plot, as the overly dramatic ‘everything is terrible’ mood swings that kids get when they’re between 11 and 15 allows for dramatic speeches and loud screaming without feeling like you’ve stepped onto the cover of Shonen Jump too much. We get more development of the ‘Incarnate’ powerups, and they’re public now, so that’s a new worry. But the biggest worry is with our hero, who (as was becoming obvious) is not quite free of the killer possessive armor from Book 2, and one way that you can tell this is going to be a long-running series is that the volume is content to leave most everything up in the air.

It also resolves issues left over from the previous book about Fuko, who is at last doing something with the team, but really isn’t using her full potential due to her latent trauma over what she did to her legs in the game. I’d wanted more with her and Kuroyukihime, and I got it here, as it’s clear that both of them take the blame for the pain that each one suffered, and it’s up to Haruyuki to demonstrate that they are not a horrible person (Kuroyukihime) or to show off what her powers and avatar really is used for (Fuko). Haruyuki is very empathic, and (except of course for the increasing number of girls crushing on him, which he doesn’t get mostly for plot reasons) understands almost unconsciously what needs to be done to help people achieve their potential.

Brian Burst, for all its drama, twisted revenge antics, and continued suggestions of a dark evil villain side using it for bad things, is a game, and a fun one at that. The battles featured here are probably the best writing in the book, as they’re fast, exciting, dramatic, and uncertain. Yes, you could predict that our heroes would win, but how they won was certainly not expected, and I loved that it also required an assist from Blood Leopard and Ash Roller – breaking apart the boundaries of the ‘teams’. Given what happens near the end of this book, Haruyuki and company are going to need all the allies they can get. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next volume.

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