Watch the Book Talk for Paper Wishes here.
There is a belief that with each origami star folded, a falling star is saved. After folding 365 stars while mourning the loss of her mother, Vilvian makes a wish that will change her life forever.
Enter Nox Bright, the handsome and mysterious guy who has been haunting Vilvian’s dreams. She barely believes it when he walks into her homeroom near the end of the school year. Has she gone crazy or is it possible that wishes really do come true?
I read this back in September 2016, and my thoughts on the book are still very much the same, so this is the review I wrote back then with (minor) alterations to keep it up to date.
Paper Wishes is a unique book in the sense that it takes a very popular idea from Japan called ‘magical girl’— which is seen quite often in anime and manga— and puts it in written form. There were many things I really enjoyed about this novel, and a few things I thought could be improved, but overall I loved this book and I’m eagerly anticipating reading the sequel.
As someone who grew up watching anime, I’m very familiar with the general idea of ‘magical girl’ stories. That’s why I went into this book expecting quite a lot more in the sense of ‘magic’, anticipating a little more conflict and battle and powers— however, once I’d adjusted my focus to how the story was actually playing out, I realized the direction the author chose to take this book suited it most perfectly and really brought out all the themes of this book. Plus, it put a big modernized twist on ‘magical girl’ stories, making it stand out and shine.
It follows the story of Vilvian, who recently lost her mother and has been dealing with a lot of grief. At the start of the book she is very much alone, and we don’t know much about the people in her life because she has shut herself away— which I thought was very well done and very realistic.
Slowly, we are introduced to a few characters. Kai is her childhood best friend and former guardian, and Nox is someone who came to her in her dreams to support her in a bad time.
Because Nox didn’t really come into the book until later, I found myself liking Kai much more for the first half of the book. We got to know him quite well early on, and I really thought he was suited to Vilvian because it was so obvious that he would take care of her. Nox actually annoyed me a lot, being someone that popped up now and again, and so very quickly into the story we learned that Vilvian and Nox had feelings for each other, that had been developed way before we even started the story. But it did make me curious to know whether Vilvian was going to change her mind about Kai as the story progressed.
Once Nox came into the book more, and we got to know him better, I did start to like him more, and eventually, I did come to see that he and Vilvian were meant to be together.
I think that the story flowed very well, and though the book did deal with a lot of serious issues and conflicts, I feel like it was a very gentle story. One big obstacle was Kai, and another was Vilvian coming to see herself as an amazing person, but there was another issue— Ann.
I really felt like Ann was only there to create a little bit of drama in the book, and we really didn’t learn as much about her as I’d have liked to. On top of that, she sort of came in at the start, and that’s what made me keep reading for a while, and then she disappeared for ages and came back again quite briefly without much reason. I mean, she had a reason, but because she’d been so neglected in the book, I felt like I didn’t fully understand or believe she would truly care enough to do what she did. If she had been included just a little bit more I think it would have been more plausible.
I know I spoke about the lack of magic before, but it did disappoint me a little that we didn’t explore magic as much as I’d liked. When Nox began to exist, for example, I felt like it was almost surreal. Vilvian accepted it very quickly, without too much surprise, and it was almost like he’d been there all along. We learnt throughout the book that Vilvian was a magical girl with wings, but we never found out what that meant or the extent of her powers. When Tsubasa came in, and we found out he also had wings, I wondered what that meant and if they were connected somehow. Note: the sequel and the companion novel, Meteor Garden, do explore this much more.
However, I did like that magic was almost a metaphor in this book, always going back to believing in yourself and accepting yourself. It brought out the inner beauty in the book.
On a final note, I really enjoyed how there was a lot of Japanese culture in this story. It made it very different and unique, and it was very fitting as well— there is something very magical and beautiful about Japanese culture in itself, and I feel like this story really reflected that. It was warm, touching, and totemo kawaii desu !
Sweet Tea | This book had all of the sweet, adorable romance!
Paper Wishes is no longer available in paperback– now, it is available to read via tapas.com. You can read Paper Wishes here.