They made it out of the time loop but now Kazuki finds himself with the unwanted attention of the being known only as O and someone else with a box has come to disrupt his everyday life.
I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t want to hit too many spoilers and really I don’t have a lot to say other than while this is a good read, it doesn’t quite hold up when compared to the first volume.
The first volume of this light novel really was like a bolt of lightning. Unexpected and yet glorious, I loved reading it and getting caught up in the mystery and wanting to see how they ultimately would escape. The second volume in this series remains well written and plays with the reader’s expectations but compared to near infinite loops over the same time period and a gradual unravelling of both the main characters, this volume instead has a time limit before the main character will disappear altogether. While it does put pressure on the characters to act as they don’t get the infinite do-overs, it also means that a lot of the playfulness and experimenting with ‘what might happen if’ is removed giving us a far more straight forward story.
It isn’t that the story in this second volume is poor. It just doesn’t hold up when compared with the first volume. If anything it is kind of a bridge. It gives us a reason to believe that these characters will keep getting caught up in extraordinary events fuelled by the boxes, but in and of itself it isn’t terribly impressive.
Part of the problem lies with the central antagonists. Where their motives and actions are not terribly impressive, and their need to gloat and leave clues makes the overall mystery somewhat less mysterious and interesting, it really leaves the whole volume lacking something. It also doesn’t help that Kazuki and Maria spend a lot of this volume at odds and so there is very little chemistry between them save when it is important to the narrative.
There are a few interesting moments between Kazuki and some of his classmates. And the use of phone messages to communicate at times is used to clever effect. None of it is quite as intriguing as what the first volume offered but it is still entertaining in its own way.
Despite all of that, I would still recommend reading this. It is quite a solid follow up to the first volume and while it may not have quite the magic of the first book, it is still a decent story and leaves itself open for more to come. Basically, if you enjoyed the first book, this one isn’t as good but is still a quality read.
If you’re interested in reading The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria Volume 2 it is available on the Book Depository.