Author: Yukako Kabei
Genre: Japanese Light Novel, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Ghosts
Publication: July 14th 2009 by Yen Press (first published in Japan January 1st 2003)
“Right now, my life’s generally not so bad, so don’t worry about me. I enjoy what I can wherever I am, and I have someone who’s making my life good. But… I’m fed up with it already. Just imagine, every single person I meet up with dies, leaving me behind.”
SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Kieli is a reclusive girl isolated by her ability to see ghosts. Her only friend is her “roommate,” Becca, the precocious spirit of a former student still residing in Kieli’s dorm. Everything in Kieli’s life changes suddenly when the girls meet the handsome but distant Harvey who, like Kieli, can see ghosts. He also turns out to be one of the legendary Undying, an immortal soldier bred for war now being hunted by the Church. When Kieli joins Harvey on a pilgrimage to lay to rest the spirit of a corporal possessing an old radio, as unlikely as it seems, she feels she may have finally found a place where she belongs in the world. And in Kieli, Harvey may have found a reason to live again.
The story is set in a fictional planet different from ours. A planet where the ruler is an institution they call the Church. It was said that the first people of the planet were saints from a mother planet who came riding a huge spaceship. Many years ago, the planet was progressive because of the high abundance of energy source. But then a war happened. The energy sources dried out. The planet was on the brink of destruction. To end the war, the Church invented the Undying – the immortal soldiers. They were the tools to finish all the soldiers. They killed mercilessly. But when the war ended, the Church didn’t have any much use for them anymore so they began to hunt them. The history of the war was even changed. Making them the villains. The Demons of War. The scapegoat.
Many years later, the story began with Kieli, a teenage girl who can see ghosts. She can even see the memories of the spirits she comes in contact with. Before the colonization week – a long holiday in their planet – she met Harvey who she later learned was an Undying. She also met Corporal, a spirit inside an old radio. The adventure began when Kieli joined Harvey in a journey to bring Corporal’s spirit to where his remains were.
Being a light novel, the story was fast paced. There seems to be something happening in every page and I like it that way. This volume was full of adventures, ghosts and action. The world building was not rushed but I can easily imagine the world the characters were living in. But what I love most about this book is the deep history behind the story. Especially Harvey’s past and his connection to the Corporal. I can feel that there are still many revelations about their planet in the next volumes of this book.
I also love the vintage, nostalgic feel of KIELI. It was beautifully written and heart-wrenching. I like the concept of the Undying. I love Harvey as well as the sorrowful vibe I can feel just by reading about him. I also like Kieli who, thankfully, was not the annoying type of heroine. There were many times that I felt a sting in my eyes while reading. It was a tragic story of a dystopian society. Of an outcast girl who can only make friends with the dead. Of a soldier who was tired of seeing all the people he cared for growing old while he still looks the same. And even though I have my doubts, I wish deep in my heart that this story will have a happy ending. That Harvey, in his long immortal life, could someday find the happiness he so much deserves. There are still a lot of volumes to go, though. So I’m still not sure. But what I am sure of is that out of the few Japanese light novels I’ve encountered so far, Kieli is one of my favorites.