JAPANESE LIGHT NOVELS
What is a light novel?
The "light novels" or "light novels" are books that belong to a literary stream of Japanese origin. Broadly speaking, we could say that they are illustrated novels, with covers and drawings of manga aesthetics, which tend to adapt to anime.
The first problem we encounter to define them is the same term ligh novel, a type of pseudoanglicism known as wasei-eigo. That is, an English construction made by Japanese speakers with words or expressions of English origin.
Therefore, "light novel" is not an expression originally recognized by standard English, and that in the ears of an English speaker sounds a bit inconsistent, or even meaningless. Remember that the Japanese are famous for speaking English in their own way, or for using single words of this language just because they sound cool. So much so, that the same Japanese readers do not agree when it comes to explaining what a light novel is to a foreigner.
Novels so light
As we can deduce from all this, "light novel" or "light novel" is an inaccurate expression, which is used simply because it is the one that has become popular. And, although the word "light" can make us think that they are very short novels, this is not entirely true.
If we look at the numbers, in the West publishers speak of "short novel" or "novelette" when it has between 7,000 and 45,000 words, and "novel" when it exceeds this amount; 80,000 words being a fairly common figure for the latter. Therefore, light novels, which usually have an average of 50,000 words, are certainly not very long novels, but they are not as short as they might seem at first.
The truth is that the issue of the number of pages is a matter of market, rather than an election fruit of the whim. While the Western reader likes to acquire “a good billet” when he buys (to Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, or George RR Martin novels I refer), because in this way he feels he has invested his money well, in Japan they prefer smaller and manageable volumes.
So much so, that a novel that in our countries would be published in a single volume, Japanese publishers divide it into two or three volumes. And in fact, it is a common practice to do the same with foreign novels considered "long" according to Japanese standards.
OTHER MYTHS AND GENERALIZATIONS
It is also often thought that light novels have a simple argument and development, since they are usually intended for a young audience (what the Anglo-Saxons call young adult). But this is not always true. If you don't believe me, I encourage you to take a look at All You Need is Kill. After all, it would be like saying that all superhero comics have little elaborate plots, and that only readers under twenty years of age can enjoy them.
On the other hand, "light novel" is not the equivalent of "fantasy" or "science fiction." That is, we are not facing a literary genre, since, as with the manga, there are many differences between some works and others. So, if we want to classify a book as a "light novel", we must look more at its external characteristics, than internal ones.
CONCLUSION: WHAT IS A LIGHT NOVEL?
In summary, light novels are a way of understanding literature, and of expressing itself artistically, whose works have in common the following characteristics: average length of 50,000 words, covers and illustrations of manga aesthetics, and in many cases a large number of volumes by franchise, along with possible adaptations to anime.
Unlike western novels, light novels have very long titles for the reader to identify what kind of story it is.
Dungeon ni Deai or Motomeru wa Machigatteiru Darō ka
Translated would be: Is it wrong to try to meet girls in a dungeon?
Only by name you already have a clue what you are going to try, for example: Dungeon = Adventure, Girls = Harem, and only by the informal title do you realize that it will be a novel directed for young people and that it will not to deal with very serious and deep issues.
Some novels to start ... simple and good
I will recommend some novels, but I will NOT give a synopsis of them, but I will give my opinion and why I recommend it. You can read light novels online if you prefer.
Utsuro no Hako to Zero no María (The Empty Box and María la Cero)
An amazing novel, dark, complex, easy to read and very very addictive. Seriously, I finished all 7 volumes in a single week. Despite dealing with a little more mature issues and being dark and with an excellent psychological touch. I recommend it for being very catchy, being complex and easy to read and for not having anime or manga; It is a unique and independent project.
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