Title: Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Vol.1
Author: Yoko Nogiri
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: February 16th, 2021
･｡ﾟPlease consider supporting your local indie bookshop – ask if they have this in stock! ☆ﾟ.･｡ﾟ
I was approved to review a digital review copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review will be cross-posted on NetGalley and Goodreads.
From the creator of That Wolf-Boy Is Mine! and Love in Focus comes a story of a hard-working high schooler who falls for a bad boy, and discovers that the the lives of him and his friends are nothing like what she imagined. Don’t miss Yoko Nogiri’s newest shojo hit!
A DEBT OWED
Midori drops her wallet on her first day of high school, but her new classmate Ichijo swoops in to help. She wants to thank him, but he’s part of a tight-knit trio and none of them are ever in class! Rumor has it that they all got expelled for acting up, and studious Midori’s actually at risk of expulsion, too… In order to help support her family, she has a part-time job, which is against the school rules. When the chairman of the school board catches her leaving work, he says he’ll let it go—but only if she’s up to the task of bringing the three boys back to school. Well, why not? It’ll be a piece of cake…right?
Midori is a high-schooler with a part-time job at a café-bar. Unfortunately, her job’s against the rules at her school, and when the chairman of the school board finds out, he makes her a deal: Convince three boys who’ve stopped coming to school to return, and her transgression will be overlooked. Now, she needs to find a way into the lives of these not-so-sweet boys… one of whom just happens to be her crush!
The Book Review
I picked this up with low expectations, and I’ve never been more satisfied. Thank you Kodansha Comics for this digital ARC!
What I Liked
I picked it up expecting an absolutely tried-and-tested, cliché romance, but I was very wrong. Although Nogiri uses well-established tropes, the overall feeling of this first volume is fresh. Since setting and story are common staples of the shōjo genre, this is probably due to its engaging cast of characters.
Midori is a joy to read: she may seem shy, but truly possesses a well of inner strength and determination that really gives her character three-dimensionality. Part of her character was also drawn out while interacting with her family, rather than just in reaction to her meetings with the boys. What may seem like hopeless (if not somewhat annoying) positivity is instead the fruit of a much darker family and economical struggle she is trying to overcome. Overall, she’s a very relatable character and I look forward to seeing he grow and develop over the course of this series.
The initial reason for the three boys’ rebellion was surprising, original and immediately established the strong friendship among them. I like how their group dynamic unfolded, and hope to see more of it in the future. Each one has their own distinct personality (albeit they are common personalities within the genre) and background, and I am excited to know more about them. There seems to be some darker things at play, and I’d love to see who they are beyond the rebelliousness and academic excellence! I’m curious as to whether the story will focus uniquely on Rei and Midori’s relationship, or open up to other romances.
What I Liked a Little Less
These are more nitpicks than things I didn’t like. I’d generally like to see more of the other boys come to the forefront (that cliffhanger ending was promising!), more family dynamics on Midori’s side, and I personally really hope that Midori’s friends are not forgotten and get to play a bigger part in the future to give her relationship web a bit more variety. Essentially, I’d like to see more of all their lives beyond the romance, to paint fuller pictures of them.
Although—I do think that the Principal’s personal investment in the lives of these three boys is a bit exaggerated, and would, under normal circumstances, lead to some impartiality and professional integrity issues.
Overall, I am extremely excited about this new series and look forward to its publication! If you are a lover of shōjo manga, I would definitely recommend this new, promising series.
Would I recommend this book? Yes.
I’ve set up a ko-fi account to support my expenses, as finances are a bit uncertain due to Covid. If you like what you see, I would appreciate it if you could pay it a visit. No worries if you can’t donate right now! Take care of yourself 💗