Light Novel Review: 彼女は一人で歩くのか? Does She Walk Alone? – 森博嗣

does-she-walk-alone(kanojo ha hitori de aruku no ka? – Mori Hiroshi)

This is the first light novel I have read. I’m not quite sure what makes it a light novel. Maybe the target audience is young adults, however I found it pretty engaging as an adult. It seems like light novels are a popular choice for beginners, but it didn’t seem any easier to read than other popular fiction I have read so far. It did have a bit more action.

Other books I have read by Mori have been mysteries, but this one is science fiction. I don’t read any science fiction in English, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. It’s definitely not because I wouldn’t like to read more science fiction. That’s one of the many many things I would like to do that won’t become high enough priority to put in the time.

The setting is in the future once bioengineering has advanced to the point where cells can be produced and “walkalones”, physically identical to humans, can be manufactured. The walkalones and humans, who are also filled with manufactured cells to maintain their health, are mysteriously no longer able to have children. Since cells can be incrementally replaced, humans no longer have a life expectancy as long as they have the resources to continue maintaining their bodies and there are no extreme accidents.

Hagiri Sensei who is researching a way to distinguish between humans and walkalones has come under attack, and the book is written from his perspective as he runs from and tries to identify the organization that is attacking him. The characters are static and shallow, which seems to be the result of their society which no longer has need for wars, violence, crime, or even ambition. There is no future generation to fight for. With no children and no one aging or changing, it’s hard to notice how quickly time is passing.

The most interesting part to me was imagining a world where bioengineering has been developed to the extreme and what kind of problems that may cause. This novel fleshes out some surprising consequences and struggles for such a world. The reader also has to wrestle with the question about what it means to be human and if it goes beyond the physical cells we are made of.

It has been a while since I read something recent. This is part of the W series which has three books so far. The latest one was released in June, so I may try to catch up and enjoy waiting for something to be released. I recommend this book for someone looking for a current sci-fi series to read in Japanese.