I'll start off with what is hands down my favorite Light Novel, it's a psychological mystery type show with some very creative writing. First two volumes are out officially now and the translation is far better than the fan translation floating around on the internet so I recommend buying it.
Most of them are badly written trash, which is the same as webcomics, because the barrier for entry is so low. That being said, I really like Cultivation Chat Group.
Cultivation Chat Group
It's a comedy about a modern day Chinese student who gets a random mistakenly sent invite to join a chatroom where cultivators (chinese would-be immortals with mystical powers, basically, if you know nothing about them) all share tips, techniques, and chat. He then enters the world of Immortals by attempting to brew a magical body tempering pill (magic pillmaking is also a part of cultivation) with a rice cooker and some water, among other strange things.
Other ones I've liked, though they are less good, would be Coiling Dragon and I Shall Seal The Heavens. Those are more traditional cultivation type stories, but told decently well. Of the two, Coiling Dragon has a bit more of a bland main character, but it's still fine as far as that goes.
I Shall Seal the Heavens
I also have been reading (and even paid for) the Grimgar series. What seems at first like a standard isekai (a genre that is about the lowest of the low as far as effort and power fantasies go) turns into a pretty interesting setting and set of characters and circumstances. Sadly, the writing is not what it could be as far as dialogue structure goes, being written like it's the script to a manga or anime rather than a novel. Still worth a look if you're interested and can find the early chapters for free.
Here's a some Chinese novels.
Chinese fantasy novel with a Western twist, about 800 chapters to go through. Good read, the first Chinese novel I checked out and it was worth it.
Only 1620 chapters long, it's a ride and a half. Classic Chinese xianxia novel about a guy leveling up from zero to god, and possibly my favourite Chinese novel. Followed it for years as it was
translated chapter by chapter until it was finally complete last year. Cannot recommend it enough. The ending could have been handled better but overall a great novel.
A novel all about face slapping. The main character is a several million year old immortal being that goes around the world shitting on idiots, basically the title of the novel is what you get.
It's full of very, very weird mythology and obscure Chinese stuff that feels like the author just took diarrhea on his computer and decided it makes sense. Throw your brain outside and just
accept the strangeness. This novel is 3194 chapters long and still ongoing. So far about 1500+ have been translated, two new translated chapters come out every day. Great timewaster,
though there's not much plot to it.
You're too slow, nerd! Also, you should really read Cultivation Chatroom if you haven't. It's very good, best one I've read in a long, long time.
Have some isekai:
The Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time
Standard iskeai really, it's fairly decent with long chapters.
Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?
Likely the most popular iskeai right now and likely the best as it stands.
Cook of the Mercenary Corp
Cozy cooking novel but in isekai form.
Ouroboros Record ~Circus of Oubeniel~
More of a political drama/schemer type affair instead of the common power fantasy iskeai.
Same as above but a notch higher with almost pure political dealings.
The Book Eating Magician
Wuxia but korean and with ~magic~
Another rec by the same writer as my first, just finished volume 1 of 2, really good, tragic, fucked up story, can't imagine v2 won't be as good.
I find it pretty difficult to recommend LNs since most I've read aren't in English, but heres some interesting ones I've read anyways.
This is pretty much my favorite Light Novel of all time, and one of the earliest LN I've read. It's pretty much an introduction to classic literature with a story attached to it. The MC is a young talented writer who stopped writing after an incident in the past and only returning to school at the beginning of the story, where he meets a girl who eat books and get forced into the literature club where he writes short stories for the girl to eat and solves various mysterious events.
Hitoma Iruma's first series, he is one of the few writer with very similar style to Nisio Isin. It's kind of like a detective story with a liar as the MC with some Psychological/Thriller stuffs mixed in. Hitoma Iruma also has a few other books that are pretty unforgettable to me as they're written in a way to misguide the readers.
Otsuichi's book I am not sure if it can really be considered as LNs, although everywhere states them to be. This is a collection of three stories with similar theme and some of the less depressing endings for Otsuichi's stuff.
Humanity has Declined, this had an anime so people are probably familiar with it already. The novel continues to explore the mystery of the Apocalypse and the fairies with a pretty great twist to it. Definitely worth a read, I think all of this have been translated?
Also known as Three Days of Happiness, pretty much all of Miaki Sugaru's stuff are worth checking out, I believe this was translated.
Great adventure series about a person with a gun and a talking motorbike travelling around a mysterious world, only staying for about three days for each location. It's a collection of short stories with somewhat open endings for the reader to decide the morals and values.
Heartwarming romance story that also revolve a little bit around life and death. The premise is kind of similar to narisscu (the VN) but the story is a lot less depressing.
By the author of Gosick, a depressing story about family violence, child abuse and Stockholm syndrome. It's not really like LN and it actually got republished as a normal novel later on, still worth a read.
This book have an interesting setting and some good ideas. It's pretty much about a mental disease that cause people to have dreams/hallucination and can spread onto other people. Since it can cause a large group of people to detach from reality the government ended up having "actor" to deal with these illusions to end/contain them before its too late. However the author fucked up with the story later on and gave up.
Detective story featuring Waver from the Fate series as El Melloi II after returning to the Clock Tower from the holy grail war, worth a read if you enjoyed Fate's stuff and Type-Moon world building, also fill some holes in Fate's settings and stuffs.
The Yuusha de Aru Series where the world is destroyed and little girls get broken horribly.
Shinigami wo Tabeta Shoujo | Novel
Dark, but still with LN level, Fantasy story about a hungry girl falling into madness, joins the army and murder everything for food. Nice story telling and characters. There is also two related books by the same author that are also worth reading.
Heartwarming story about a noble boy abandoning his responsibility and living with an alraune in the forest.
There's a lot others great ones like 9S, Bacanno, Shieldbro but listing them all would be too much as this is already big post.
Lastly there's a web novel that I've picked up recently that is one of those 'slow life' type of stuff, but has an interesting setting so I can't help but keep reading.
I Was Kicked out of the Hero’s Party Because I Wasn’t a True Com..
I like reading Light Novels.
Speaking of CCG there's also this one
Yuusha Gojo Kumiai Kouryuugata Keijiban | Novel
which has a similar premise and theme but is written like conversations in a BBS and its about heroes from different worlds instead of having a single MC.
if you like fate/stay night but are disappointed in the current state of the franchise, like I am, here is the solution. A novel series by the writer of Baccano! and Durarara!! that started as an april
fools prank but became real, it's fantastic and one of the only good Fate spinoff works.
JK Haru is a Sex Worker in Another World
Alright, you're probably looking at this title and going "what the fuck is wrong with this guy why would he recommend this?" but just hear me out first.
It's satire, really well written satire of the over saturated Isekai genre of light novels. It takes the piss out of them real hard while also standing out from the others and having like, a good story and
characters? I read it because the name was dumb but then it turned out to actually be really good.
I remember reading this book after seeing Yamamoto Hiroshi criticized it on Twitter. This is a pretty good book compared to most other stuffs on Syosetu but I feel like the MC's "special ability" is the worst part of the story tbh, it doesn't really serve much to the story or character and only exists to generate controversy imo.
I wouldn't say it's a satire of the Isekai genre. This book's setting and characters are pretty much the typical Isekai stuffs, except the writing and characters carried the story and the author actually tried to do something with the story and tell a message instead of simple going for self pleasure like all the other web novels tend to be.
Since I have mentioned Yamamoto Hiroshi here, I am going to recommend his books as well.
MM9 by Hiroshi Yamamoto This book takes idea from a lot of monster film and such. The book take place in a world where monsters like Godzilla are considered natural disaster while the government has a department responsible to deal with these disasters, and this book is about the stories of this department. A really fun book especially for people who liked monster stuffs.
The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto This is a really good sci-fi story taking on the concept of "AI going bad", and has the android doing their own thing after breaking free without actively killing all the humans. This book takes place in a world where androids built their own perfect society while the remaining humans became the minorities and live in small colonies. The story features a storyteller boy who is afraid of the androids and an android girl telling him 'stories of the past'. Aside from the setting, this book also tackled on a few other issues quite nicely and I really enjoy this book.
it's definitely satire, especially of the typical main isekai protagonist
If this was written in an earlier time or if the MC didn't receive an ability later, then I might've agreed that it's playing on the Isekai genre. However, the "main isekai guy" being an absolute idiot/asshole and the Isekai's system is archaic have pretty much become part of the genre nowadays I wouldn't really say it's satire of the Isekai genre, especially with how the story goes. It's self aware I agree, and it is satire of the society, but I would say the author is simply using Isekai as a model to reflect the flaws in our world rather than actually criticizing the Isekai genre imo.
Or maybe I'm just thinking too much about it lol
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