I read a lot of light novels. I mean, a LOT. I currently have over 150 volumes of various light novel series on my kindle alone. And i’ll be honest… recently, I’d gotten a bit bored. With so many out there, a lot of them kind of start to run together after some time, especially with many of them relying on the same tropes and situations, time and time again…
Honestly, I’d begun to get pessimistic about it all. Reading less and less light novels, dropping series that I’ve stuck with through 10+ volumes… Honestly, I thought Light Novels would no longer be able to entertain me.
I was wrong.
Enter a relatively new series, called Eighty-Six. A pretty uninformative title, and I really haven’t seen anyone at all talking about this series. In an act of, well, desperation, I suppose, I decided to give this series a try, so I downloaded the first volume on my Kindle, and got to reading.
And I fell in love.
Eighty-Six tells the tale of a world that is currently under threat by a massive army of autonomous battlebots called the Legion. Decked out in heavy armor, with enormous cannons and a hyparadvanced AI, these murderous machines turned on their creators, and now threaten all of humanity.
In the Republic, a small country on the border of the Legion’s territory, they’ve developed a strategy to fight what they call “a war without casualties.” Having been founded by a certain race, called the Alba, the government of the Republic rounded up all other races of people within its borders, forcing them into internment camps, and eventually, forcing them to fight against the Legion in an ever-dwindling force of barely-functional scrap heaps they deem battle-worthy. After all, those without Alba blood really aren’t actually PEOPLE, right…?
Eighty-Six tells a riveting tale of two lives; that of a sheltered young Alba military officer named Lena learning to confront the grim reality and corruption of the government she’d sworn to serve, and the “things” under her command, the soldiers of the eighty-sixth district. The people relegated to the level of trash by the cruel and corrupt government, and the spoiled and discriminatory citizens of the Republic. Specifically, the captain of the squad, a young soldier named Shin, who carries the handle of “Undertaker”, and is known by his companions on the battlefield as “the Reaper.”
This is a highly character-driven story, largely free of the major Light Novel tropes. Gone are the random “guy walks in or girls in the bath” or “guy trips and gropes a girl” moments so common. It’s dark, it’s brutal, and it’s deeply unnerving, though not without it’s more lighthearted moments. An absolute rollercoaster of emotions, centered around a brilliant core cast of characters, a vividly fleshed-out world, and story elements that consistently resonate with the human heart in an occasionally unnerving manner.
To be honest, I was utterly blown away by this book. It’s by far and away the best volume of a Light Novel I’ve ever read. I fell in love with the characters, both the leads and the side characters in equal measure. I was invested in the story like I rarely ever am. Near the climax, I was biting my nails, and I have to admit, the ending truly made me cry.
Why is nobody talking about this series?
Why does it not have the recognition it deserves?
I suppose all I can do is offer a simple plea. PLEASE. Go find a way to read Eighty-Six. Spread the word. Let me know your thoughts. Because a series this good, this unique, in a veritable ocean of same-seeming literature, gives me hope for the future.