My Next Life as a Villainess!: All Routes Lead to Doom Vol. 3 LN Review

I guess the price for Katarina’s survival was that the author ran out of ideas.

Katarina Claes continues to thrive in a world in which, despite the fecklessness of her own efforts, she managed to avoid all the bad ends of the otome game into which she was reborn. So, what now? Well, a school festival for one, which presents an excellent opportunity for Katarina to stuff herself silly, and an equally excellent opportunity for her suitors to coo over her. But if the kids are expecting things to be more light-hearted for the time being, others are more interested in political jockeying, and Katarina finds herself carried off for the second time in as many books.

I am going to keep this very short as I don’t have much to say. The fact is, once the main thrust of the story was wrapped up (i.e. avoid bad ends), little remained to be done plot-wise. The cast is charming (even if one-dimensional) enough that there didn’t have to be much of a plot, but this third volume is in pure flail mode. Its stunning how repetitive this volume was. Half the page count is chewed up by having Katarina bop around the school festival to visit her suitors and eating, followed by entirely rehashing these scenes by showing them from the standpoint o the suitors. It wasn’t exactly captivating to begin with, and it’s certainly no more so the second time through. Granting some insight to these characters is fine, but surely we’ve established that they’re all gaga for Katarina and that she truly did improve their lives simply by being decent to them? The rest of the book consists of the kidnapping and dark magic plot from volume two, none improved for being served a second time, with a small dash of political stuff to do with the royal family.

This is all a letdown, albeit a perhaps not entirely unexpected one. Well! It isn’t as if I’d expected much novel at this point, but I hadn’t expected it to be so mind-numbingly dull, at least. As I said above, I do like the cast, and theoretically I’d be content to watch them faff about inconsequentially, but this whole volume screams of a lack of ideas. I do suspect it might be more entertaining in the manga adaptation of this same material; I’d considered just going with that to begin with and clearly should’ve done so.

Having been so unrelentingly negative, I should note that my dislike for the volume has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of it as a release. Translator and editor team Shirley Yeung and Aimee Zink have handled it well, all the more noteworthy as I can’t imagine translating and editing a wholescale rehash of a not particularly thrilling sequence was much fun. As I’ve come to expect, J-Novel Club delivers an apt release.

So, what now? Well, I’m sure it’s obvious I won’t be going anywhere near the fourth volume. I am, on the other hand, enjoying the anime adaptation currently airing, which is, truly, what drove me to pick this volume up at all. (This is a good opening for me to note that I realized, somewhat unnervingly, that my preferred ship for this series is a heterosexual one. Troubling, huh? But Alan is about as much of an idiot as Katarina, so I think they’d make a good pair, although they might require extensive supervision from Katarina’s long-suffering maid to ensure they didn’t burn their home to the ground. Alan is also not creepy like Geord or Keith, which is a big plus. I suppose I could also live with Katarina and Maria ending up together, but Mary, on the other hand, really needs to find someone to love in a healthier, less obsessive fashion. I am not convinced Sophia actually has a romantic interest in Katarina given her efforts to help her brother get the girl, and Nicol is clearly never going to make a move.) I may give the manga a shot in the future – the prospect of coins expiring on my Bookwalker Global account is always great encouragement for this sort of thing.

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