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DIVISION BY ZERO

Descriptive and Intense

By yariyaridaze, member

Sep 21, 2018: This review is based entirely upon the three chapters available at the time of its publishing.

True to form and the inspirations clearly stated in the description, Division by Zero begins with Kohana Outtaike, a 15-year-old high school student, introducing herself to the reader. The novel is written in First Person, which is already a sharp departure from the tradition of novels being narrated in the Third. This brings its own interesting perspective to the narration as the reader is not provided any outside insight, opinions, and information beyond that of the character which narrates the chapter. Kohana very quickly establishes herself as a bonafide genius, and her intellect is only rivaled by her unbridled enthusiasm and passion. As a passionate, naïve young girl who genuinely believes that the universe is good, I am curious to see how the story addresses this immaturity. Which is not to say that the writing is immature; in fact, it is spectacularly detailed – and serves well in demonstrating the faults in characters’ logic.

The entire tone of the novel gradually begins to shift over the course of the next two chapters. While that naïveté is preserved, the scale of the story and the power of the characters therein expands explosively when it is stated that Kohana is a cosmic weapon with the power to destroy everything she has ever even speculated the existence of. Referred to simply as a “Summoner”, Kohana takes on a massive responsibility. While all of this follows suit with many magical girl tropes, it has a distinctly different flavour in that the abominations she is immediately called upon to fight are not human in nature, and in fact never were.

With the stakes increasing from chapter to chapter, Kohana is a humorous narrator with her counterpart and “Advisor” Hiroyuki acting as a stark contrast to her energetic and expressive nature. Where she is quick to anger, Hiroyuki remains categorically immovable and coolheaded. Their interactions quickly increase alongside the intensity of the dangers that begin to plague not only them, but the world in which they reside. Not a single character is left undeveloped or expanded upon, no matter their role, and has their own distinct impact on the narrative.

The writing itself is another thing altogether. The style is intricate, but still easy to read. There is no such thing as extraneous information here. While each sentence is packed full of description, action, or information, all of it contributes to the furthering of the plot. There is no backtracking or loose ends that remain untouched or unexplained, even when transitioning between characters. The continuity is obviously a key focus, and one that I find to be executed extremely well and in a fashion that is pleasurable to read. Where some problems in First Person stories that switch from character to character arise due to a lack of a constant, strong voice, that is something in which this story excels.

That said, sometimes the explanations can be heavy, but it’s not to a degree that is overly distracting. All the information given is context that is sorely needed for any of the proceeding events to make any sense at all; and as a reader, I never felt as if I had to slough through any of the passages to get to something that was more interesting. Overall, the characters are well-developed, and their individual voices speak through the word choice that the author employs in their individual chapters and beyond.

As a final note, Division by Zero updates on a monthly basis. However, the sheer length and amount of content packed into each chapter more than makes up for the wait, and is all the more rewarding, in my opinion. I am certainly looking forward to future installments.

5 of 8 members found this review helpful.
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DIVISION BY ZERO

a bold and dramatic dive

By Sarah Day, member

Oct 3, 2018: I think the first thing I would like to begin with for this review is to point out that Division by Zero is definitely not your average sci-fi— or even your average novel either. Influenced by shōnen and shōjo manga, this novel takes the dramatic and uplifting elements we all love from those pleasures and mixes it with a much more fearless and mysterious sci-fi tale of—quite literally—astronomical proportions.

I think anyone who begins Division by Zero should be well aware that this is a novel full of information. Written in 1st person through the perspective of key characters, as a stream of consciousness almost, these first couple of chapters have us introduced to two characters: Kohana and Hiroyuki.

Now, Kohana and Hiroyuki are different in many ways and this is reflected in the writing. Now, to break some continuity, the second chapter is written from the perspective of Hiroyuki, a cool-headed and mysterious ‘Advisor’ on a mission to recover a Summoner. He is analytical, ponderous, and all the while questioning but to himself, and the writing itself reflects this in beautifully crafted sentences of compelling buildup and development. As an avid fan of the works by Marcel Proust, where I found myself drifting amiably through the thoughts, desires and fears of the narrator, the author of Division by Zero takes on these introspective qualities honourably but takes a risk by allowing us to delve into the mind of not just one narrator, but two. For Division by Zero is a narrative work that very much breathes the ‘stream of thought’. While it does not take on this quality as deeply as Proust, for example, it does embrace the slow accumulation of sensory details and fearlessly meanders through what associations that narrator has.

Division by Zero is definitely bold and brave, for the 1st and 3rd chapters we delve a little bit more into Kohana Outaikke: our child heroine. As children are wont to do, Kohana is exceedingly confident and is not afraid to brag about her ‘intelligence’, even if that intelligence is misplaced or not there entirely— which again is reflected humorously through the way this chapter is written and the little surprises that Kohana is presented that seems to question that very same intelligence and ‘talent’. She basks in the praise that she is given but, as I did see in later chapters and especially the latest (see: chapter 4), a lot of this begins to change in an unexpected turn of events that I would very much like people to experience for themselves. I want to see how Kohana recovers from this and how much she changes from the event.

Without spoiling the story, the beginning can be considered quite standard when it comes to a sci-fi genre slashing with a slice-of-life world, but the more chapters you read the more you begin to realise that perhaps what you were getting into isn’t quite what it seemed . . . and if the latest chapter isn’t anything to go by, then reader do you have a few shocks coming!

I think what I like most about Division by Zero is just how it isn’t afraid of being different. There are definitely a lot of questions that still need answers about why Kohana, who is seemingly an ‘earthling’, is still different from your average human, but I am confident that these will come in due time in future chapters. We are lured into a false sense of security when we expect a standard ‘magical girl’ story and I definitely enjoy the shock. My favourite novels inspire me, excite me and scare me. My favourite novels stick their toes into ponds that others are afraid of and I think Division by Zero is a perfect example of that— one that I hope continues to deliver.

Division by Zero is a massive and luminous take on the genre (or genres) and while the writing is different from your average go-to novel, which some may consider too heavy, I believe it deserves a read if you are looking for something different. While I do think some of the chapters may be a little too long, when I’m invested it does not bother me too much, but I understand that some readers might find it difficult which, in turn, might disenchant those who are used to less introspective works. However, even for those who have never stepped their toes into this world of writing, I believe it would be in their best interests to take a look, for I believe there is a certain experience to be had when you read a novel that values the individual thoughts and quirks of a narrator.

I will be keeping up with the novel and its developments as I have done for quite some time and I am looking forward to chapter 5!

3 of 6 members found this review helpful.
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DIVISION BY ZERO

A Unique and Groundbreaking Novel

By spacedvas, member

Oct 3, 2018: The author’s work is nothing short of stellar, unique, and chock full of dedication, passion, and vibrancy. It’s quite clear in her written work that she knows what she’s doing, she’s well spoken with a diverse vibrant vocabulary. I see quite a few reviews giving flack to the heavy descriptions and long paragraphs of the novel, which I heavily disagree with. a/0 isn’t meant to be consumed casually, it is a novel years in the making constantly undergoing development. Kohana being the main focus of every chapter, seemingly "sucking the focus from every other character" is only so because Kohana is absolutely important to a/0, the characters revolving around her isn’t bad, they have their vibrant, dynamic personalities and compelling backstories while still remaining vital. Solange’s work promises everything it does and will continue to keep me on my toes waiting for the next chapter.

0 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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