Review: Baccano – 1934: Alice in Jails: Prison (Vol 8)


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A baby-faced executive, a prosthetic-wielding madman, and an idiot thief all find themselves on the island prison called Alcatraz, drawn together unexpectedly by the shadowy immortal living in the belly of the inescapable fortress. Baccano! is back, and it’s crazy as ever!

This book, even more so than previous volumes, was incredibly easy to read. Both the short chapters (broken even further into ‘front’ and ‘back’ sections) and the always-wonderful translation job make this book particularly digestible—even compared to Narita’s other books, this one feels the least bogged down by his signature multiple perspectives and crowd of characters.

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One year after the events of volume seven (and written two years after that book—the longest break between volumes yet), New York and its residents have seemingly moved past the violent and bloody events at Mist Wall. But it’s under that pretense that Firo finds himself under interrogation of the Bureau of Investigation and Victor Talbot. With some heavy-handed threats against Ennis’s safety, Firo finds himself embroiled in a plot to make contact with Huey Laforet—leader of terrorists, undying immortal, and currently being held in maximum security in Alcatraz. He’s shipped off to the infamous prison immediately, and the majority of the book follows his time amongst the inmates.

Also incarcerated on the island is familiar, violence-crazed Ladd Russo—now the proud owner of a iron arm thanks to the events of the Flying Pussyfoot, and one of the first criminals to have been transferred to Alcatraz after it changed from military to federal control the year before. Whether just wanting to be surrounded by the worst of the worst (ie, those who don’t think they’ll die), or actively hoping to make good on his threat to Chané on killing her father, his return to the story leaves the reader with a distinct feeling of apprehension—knowing exactly what he’s capable of, and just waiting for the bubble of normality to burst.

Rounding out our jailbirds is Isaac, willingly arrested for his past sprees of thefts across the country by a plain-clothed cop, to protect both Miria and Alveare. He’s a hopeful spot in an otherwise overwhelming situation, and never fails to bring a smile with him (as always). This book hints at parts of his past—a childhood in San Fransisco, a family who might kill him if he returns—and it’s just enough to tease the reader to wanting more. For a character most easily described as a pure idiot, Isaac is incredibly interesting to follow. Here’s hoping the promise and hints bear fruit over the next few volumes.

With major problems happening in Chicago thanks to the Russo Family and an exorbitant amount of explosives, Nebula hiring a hitman in order to retrieve an eyeball from Huey, Chané being confronted by an unexpected fragment of the past, an inexplicable amount of Felix Walkers wandering around the USA, and a heart-broken Miria leaving Jacuzzi a sympathetically-sobbing mess, this story has just begun.

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I perhaps don’t say this enough, but I truly adore Baccano! Every book solidifies this fact, and Alice in Jails: Prison is no exception. Narita’s works are truly unpredictable—with so many moving parts, it’s inevitable—making the twists hit just that much harder when they do. I don’t think anyone will be able to see the ending for this book coming, and although we’re moving from the prison next volume, this story is far from over.

For a series so full of crazy characters like Baccano! is (and we got a few new ones this book too, like the cannibalistic Dragon, and the clumsy-yet-sadistic Renée Parmedes Branvillier) it is often easy to forget that beyond the bombastic flair of the story and events, each of these characters are multi-faceted human beings. It’s the quieter moments that show how beautifully Narita writes interpersonal relationships: between friends, enemies and lovers alike. Romance probably doesn’t immediately come to mind when regarding this series, but the love shared between characters is as addicting as it is genuine. If you’re somehow not already a fan of the wonder duo of Isaac and Miria, the epilogue for this book may just change your mind.

Baccano! continues to be some of the best this medium has to offer, with characters aplenty and an unfailingly-captivating story, it’s one that every fan of light novels should be reading. This particular chapter draws readers to the West Coast, and the rippling effects of immortals and criminals seem to be spreading across the United States, creating even more possibilities for the future.

Gee’s Rating: Highly Recommended

You can purchase this book online via sites like Amazon (available in hardcover or as an ebook) and Book Depository (which offers free worldwide shipping). These are affiliate links, so a small percentage of sales goes toward this site.

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