The cat-and-mouse game between Light Yagami and L continues as Light crosses a line between using the death note to kill criminals and using it to remove anyone trying to stop him. The pace is still snappy and the indirect interaction between the two main characters is fascinating. Solid all-around.
Light Yagami has the Death Note of the shinigami Ryuk. Criminals around the world have started dying mysteriously, thanks to Light. Law enforcement agencies struggle to make sense of the apparently unconnected deaths. Light's father heads up a special unit in Japan, coordinating with "L" -- a quirky genius who's committed to catching "Kira" -- the name given to the unknown perpetrator of the killings.
The tension increases between Light and his mysterious foil L in this, the second volume of Tsugumi Ohba's series.
The first volume laid out the rules of the Death Note: Light, who has found a notebook belonging to a death god, can kill anyone he wants by writing that person's name in the book. He decides to improve the world by using the notebook to pass final judgment on the worst criminals of the world, eventually drawing the attention of police agencies around the world.
Volume 2 sees the stakes raised for Light as he uses the notebook to eliminate an entire team of FBI agents who had been sent to catch him. Predictably this action drives off most of the police who had been intent on capturing him, except for a dedicated crew in Japan, led by the mysterious L, and the grieving fiancee of one of the FBI agents killed.
There are a couple dangers in this sort of story, one of which is to become completely consumed by the moral and ethical nature of what Light is doing, so that the story becomes lost. The other is to ignore it completely, which unfortunately is what happens here.
As possessor of the Death Note, Light is completely convinced of the rightness of his actions, even when it involves killing police officers who might pose a threat to him. As a behind-the-scenes police investigator, L is completely convinced of the rightness of his actions, even when it means putting police officers in harm's way. There are no real heroes here, nor any morality being served; it is simply a battle between two equally matched foes with little to no regard for the others who perish in course of their private feud.
A few hundred years ago, this battle would have been fought with swords and armor, and the reader would have been treated to endless and tedious feats of strength, similar to the boasting of Beowulf in Heorot. Because this is a battle of intellects, we're treated instead to endless and inconceivable leaps in logic meant to show us how incredibly brilliant Light and L are.
It gets old fast.
Because of how evenly matched Light and L are, the series would not be able to continue in this vein indefinitely, and the first volume was fast-paced enough that I am confident the third volume will be better, but Vol. 2 was a marked disappointment on its own merits. Hopefully it will act as decent bridging material to the third volume.
Continues the story of Light's use of the Death Note and the intriguing battle of wits with L. Good artwork, but where these books shine is in the incredibly well-written story.
However, I must say that -- having seen the live-action Japanese movie based on the manga -- the way the movie handled the FBI agent's fiance was much better than the manga. I think it was more in keeping with the feeling that, increasingly, Light's use of the Death Note and his struggle with L is like an incredibly complex chess match, with each move thought out in excruciating detail.
How to I begin to explain my love for this series? I absolutely worship these books as well as their creators. The art is fantastic, the characters intriguing and intelligent, the plot cunning and amazingly planned out down to the tiniest detail. This series will make you think and you will be awed by the creative force behind this riveting crime story, it's a battle of the wits all the way through til the end and this is not some average tale where you can stay a step ahead of the characters and predict everything or anything that will happen next. An extremely good read and one I'd recommend to anyone and everyone who will listen. You wouldn't be disappointed.