The question in the title is something I’ve been pondering for a while. Sure, I might be getting “better” at writing (whatever that means), but that is not exactly a satisfactory answer. If I did something right, I need to make sure to capitalise on it for the upcoming volumes.
So I spent a few days re-reading the five volumes, and discovered the following attributes unique to Book 05: When Sea Burns.
NOTE: I’ll try to be as spoiler-free as possible.
#1 ) The climax of the first act
Everything that the series is building up, they materialise on this volume. From the prologue of Book 01, to the deceptively insignificant details peppered throughout the volumes (which turns out to matter a lot), are finally forming a bigger picture of what the universe and the series is all about.
Even to those who has not read the previous books, these details turns out to form a very solid background story. It is solid, because every “background story” actually happened in the previous books—not merely an author’s after-thought to justify the plot.
#2 ) It qualifies as a standalone book
Like I’ve pointed out in above point #1), there are enough solid details and background stories to actually support the volume as its own story. This is why some reviewers who’ve only read the book for the first time are able to appreciate it in depth.
#3 ) High point of character development
If you’ve read the books, you would’ve noticed that Audi Prabian’s attitude towards life, humanity, and the world in general, is radically different from the beginning of Book 01. This is continually shaped by the events of Book 05 by his encounter with the antagonist, Denis Khristoforovich Lavrov.
Furthermore, the protagonist’s character undergo multiple shocks as a result of his interactions with the other main characters, namely Nagisawa Chizuru, Jane Drake, and Jonathan Mills.
#4) Personal and Direct Conflict Between Protagonist and Antagonist
Unlike the previous books, the protagonist is not fighting the antagonist simply because he wanted to stop his army. Audi’s conflict with Denis is personal. Both see each other’s person as a threat to their world. In fact, Audi couldn’t care less if The Brotherhood loses or wins, only that Denis is finally defeated.
This adds a personal stake to the characters, as every feeling from hatred to respect are concentrated solely on one individual, instead of an abstract vastness of an entire army or nation.
#5) The Antagonist is not “evil”
Denis is as far from evil as you can get. He is a man with a tragic past, which helps form his motivations, fears, and convictions. His motivations and convictions allowed him to march forward and eventually led to a clash with the protagonist, but his fears kept him from becoming less than human.
Flip the point-of-view, and Denis actually qualifies as a hero and protagonist.
#6) The favour of the battle is heavily skewed towards the antagonist
In Book 01 and Book 02, Audi has the support of Nagisawa Corporation. In Book 03 and Book 04, Audi has the backing of the entire Crowned Confederacy Military Sector.
Not so in Book 05.
With only three companions, Audi must fight against Denis and his entire Brotherhood army. It only makes matter worse that Denis wields one of the strongest “superpower” in the series. So, even a one-on-one battle is still quite a bit of hell to go through for a powerless Audi.
#7) The Superpower “Bionika” unveils its colours and varieties
Bionika superpower is something that the previous four books kept veiled and hidden. Almost everyone (except Jane Drake) who possesses it tried their best not to wield them. However, Book 05 changed all that.
With the Brotherhood coming at full force, the mightiest of its Bionika wielders came forth. From Denis’ space manipulation to Bobbi’s gravity manipulation, the battlefield becomes something entirely different. As a powerless person, the protagonist must use his wit and strategic maneuver to triumph over these unnatural forces – and that’s actually quite fun to follow.
Book 05 isn’t without criticism. One reviewer actually expressed her disappointment on how the core writing techniques isn’t as great as the other elements of the story. I took notice of this, and I’ve decided to take a little contemplation and self-improvement lesson on this.
Another point is the expectation that follows from people who’ve read Book 05. Book 06 is coming in the middle of this year (June 15 – actual middle of the year, and in the middle of the month itself), but I need to make sure it doesn’t fall short of expectation. It’s going to be a challenge, since the battle will be less explosive and more of an intellectual one.
But on the bright side, people on Instagram and Pixiv are highly receptive to the antagonist of Book 06: Charlotte Payne. So that, I will make sure to capitalise.