Sword Art Online — Aincrad

I read the Sword Art Online light novels after watching the anime series, but I didn’t know until I picked up the first book that the novels were actually written before a manga or anime adaption was made. I found that pretty interesting.

The novels, like the anime, are about a group of hardcore gamers who are unable to log out of the very first Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (VRMMORPG for short). It’s announced, as soon as people begin to panic, that being unable to log out from the game is a “feature” and not a bug. It’s also stated that anyone who dies inside the game dies in real life.

Virtual reality is something that fascinates me, so naturally, I found the story very interesting. All of the main characters struggled with adapting to the virtual world in their own way, but in the first Aincrad novel we follow the efforts of Kirito, a solo player who avoids grouping with other players at all costs. I found Kirito’s personality to be a bit cliche– he came off as your typical hero who has to save everyone– but I’ve come to accept that stories sometimes need to use cliches and so I ignored it.

Being a gamer myself, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of world building that was involved in the novels. Supposedly there are 100 floors in Aincrad for the players to beat, but the real story begins around chapter 2 where we jump straight to floor 70-something. I was eager to read about the different boss battles they encountered and the initial panic of the playerbase when they’re locked in the game (some of which is addressed in the anime instead of the light novels). I wanted to read more about Kirito and his adventures, but the story was often driven toward the good deeds he did for other people than the selfish things he did for himself.

I think the story could have been written better. I felt like, even though the author did very well on some accounts, not everything I was expecting/ wanting out of the story was accomplished. I still intend to read all of the other light novels in hopes of instances being more detailed further on in the story, but there is a decent wait time on the English translations.

I’d like to tackle my own virtual reality story sometime, though with the current list of stories I’ve got to write, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.

Have any of you read the Sword Art Online books or watched the anime? What are your thoughts?

~Erynn

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