Mad Lion 🎤オオサカありがとう!🧡シンジュクありがとう!🤍

Mad Lion 🎤オオサカありがとう!🧡シンジュクありがとう!🤍

26-09-2022

06:46

Quick break from my usual 2D fandom nonsense because I finally have my thoughts together about Little Mushroom, a Danmei novel that has become very dear to my heart. Please allow me to scream about why I love it SO MUCH (and want everyone to love it too)! #MLLittleMushroom

First, MASSIVE thanks to @PFH_Blossom for providing me with an advance copy of vol 2: Revelations to review, and also for bringing us such a beautifully done official English release! I would be lost without it. #MLLittleMushroom

Second, this will be mostly spoiler free, but if you want to read with a completely clear brain, stop now and come back when you’re done! (mute #MLLittleMushroom for best results)

And please DO come back when you’re done reading so we can scream about An Zhe and Lu Feng and their amazing world together. Okay, let’s go! #MLLittleMushroom

First things first - Little Mushroom is a beautiful love story, but it’s so much more than that - it’s a complexly woven Sci Fi thriller that raises questions about what it means to be human in a world overrun by monsters. #MLLittleMushroom

Little Mushroom contains subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) themes related to life, death, humanity, social classes, politics, environmental changes, SCIENCE … you name it. Pick your favorite. It’s in there. #MLLittleMushroom

And Little Mushroom is great for so many reasons … first, the setting is peak Evangelion style “we’re fighting SOMETHING but nobody knows what it is and everything we’ve known until now is a lie” post-apocalyptic dystopian mind games. #MLLittleMushroom

The story takes place more than a century in the future, on an earth that’s been destroyed and distorted by natural catastrophes. Living creatures have turned into monsters that can absorb genes and mutate, sometimes into human form (known as Xenogenics). #MLLittleMushroom

And Xenogenics are dangerous, and so real that nobody can tell they’re monsters until it’s too late. Humanity knows WHAT is happening around them, but they don’t know why, or how, or what to do, and we all get to find out along with them. It’s a trip. #MLLittleMushroom

Oh, and most of the world is built around biblical names and packed with biblical references, just for that extra “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world” sense of helplessness. It’s post-apocalyptic perfection. #MLLittleMushroom

Of course the characters and their interactions are fantastic too. Little Mushroom features that amazing “I hate that I love you” long-burn relationship dynamic and peppers it perfectly with cute romantic moments that make you go “awwwww.” #MLLittleMushroom

Our stars are An Zhe, a mushroom Xenogenic who’s so human he even fools the sharpest human in the book, and Lu Feng … the sharpest human in the book, and one who’s often considered a monster because of how many people he kills. Nice irony there. #MLLittleMushroom

An Zhe and Lu Feng are good. Really good. They’re Beauty and the Beast but in this case Beauty is a “monster” and the Beast is human, adding another element of “so what does it REALLY mean to be human?” to the story. #MLLittleMushroom

Lu Feng is in charge of ensuring no Xenogenics or genetically infected humans get into human territory, so he and An Zhe are destined to be enemies. And yet, fate brings them together anyways, and it’s a joy watching them work through all that emotion. #MLLittleMushroom

There are, of course, other characters, with varying levels of importance, but - if you haven’t read it yet - don’t get too attached to most of them. Their world is harsh, and not everyone makes it out alive. #MLLittleMushroom

That said … every character, no matter how short their presence is, plays a unique role and adds depth to the story. Some characters are uniquely awful, some are uniquely beautiful, but they all have their place. #MLLittleMushroom

And there ARE some characters who randomly pop up again when you least expect them too - no loose ends are left untied for anyone, which is a HUGE reason Little Mushroom was a great read for me. “Oh, THAT guy! … is still alive, whoa.” #MLLittleMushroom

But what really got me hooked into Little Mushroom is the storytelling - the post-apocalyptic dystopian mind games and horrific events are peppered with situational comedy and simple observations that just make you laugh. #MLLittleMushroom

The ridiculous, ongoing antics throughout the story involving a certain custom-ordered mannequin are giggle inducing, and An Zhe’s unique observations of humanity from the viewpoint of a fungus are profound - but often hilarious. #MLLittleMushroom

The simple tone used to describe An Zhe’s experiences among humanity is one of the most charming things about the writing, and shows the author’s keen ability to write a character observing what is essentially our world from an objective viewpoint. #MLLittleMushroom

It’s not all funny and charming, of course – in fact, the story is tense, terrifying and a little gross most of the way through. And that’s also because of the simple, matter-of-fact tone An Zhe uses to describe what’s happening. #MLLittleMushroom

An Zhe tells us about the world he sees, just as he sees it, and the reader - who understands the nightmarish context and implications of these things being described - gets to enjoy that feeling of “Oh my god, WHAT IS GOING ON” in place of An Zhe. #MLLittleMushroom

Even when Lu Feng takes over the narration, he shares the same simple style, so there’s no change in the way the story flows. It’s an engaging yet easy read that’s perfect for readers who love putting pieces of a puzzle together as they move along. #MLLittleMushroom

Which leads into the themes that come out with each piece of that puzzle. Little Mushroom, being of the post-apocalyptic dystopian mind games genre, weaves strong messages about humanity, life, death, politics, and society into the plot. #MLLittleMushroom

And this is really the greatest thing about Little Mushroom - it covers so much ground that there’s something for everyone. Want to talk about what it means to be human? It’s in there. Want to discuss the value of life, death, and humanity? It’s in there. #MLLittleMushroom

Looking for something about the sacrifice of one to save many? It’s in there. Calamity caused by climate change? In there. Censorship and social control in the name of the “greater good”? In there. #MLLittleMushroom

Social status and how the elite stay elite? In there. Everything we do as humans is basically pointless because we can never guess the outcome - in the end, was it worth it? In there, very, very in there. #MLLittleMushroom

Oh, and the fact that humanity still doesn’t know everything about the universe we live in, no matter how hard we try. There’s a lot of science, but I’ll leave that content up to people who know what they’re talking about. (Definitely not me.) #MLLittleMushroom

There are two books (Judgement Day, and Revelations), and from the first page of Book 1, you can’t put it down. Every scene flows smoothly into the next one, and the writing is so engaging that you don’t even realize time is passing as you read. #MLLittleMushroom

The world-building is just as well paced, with clues being revealed bit by bit in a way that allows the reader to experience the joy? Shock? Excitement? Sorrow? Pick your poison, of “oh my god, REALLY!?” over and over again. #MLLittleMushroom

But the best part about book 1 is that it doesn’t take itself THAT seriously, and there are plenty of moments to take a step back and look at the ridiculousness of society just plugging along amidst “it’s the end of the world” doom and gloom. #MLLittleMushroom

A lot of heavy stuff goes down in book 1 - A LOT - but there’s still room for An Zhe’s unique worldview to make the reader realize how frivolous a lot of human behavior is even in the worst of times. #MLLittleMushroom

For example, when An Zhe’s trying to explain to children why advancing in the military is a good thing, all he can come up with from his limited knowledge is, “You get a cool uniform.” And hey, he’s not wrong? Lu Feng does have a very cool uniform. #MLLittleMushroom

On the other hand, Book 1 is terrifying. Read it, please read it - but don’t read it before bed if you’re the type to get nightmares from your fiction. Or if you’re the type to not fall asleep because you’re going over that fiction over and over in your brain. #MLLittleMushroom

Book 2 picks up right where book 1 leaves off, and it goes HARD. Jumping right back into the story where it left off in book 1 is incredibly satisfactory, and the first scenes in the first chapters keep up the expert delivery we’ve come to know and love. #MLLittleMushroom

The main difference between Book 2 and Book 1 is that, since the situation for the characters is getting very, VERY serious, there’s a lot less humor and a lot more helplessness in Book 2. #MLLittleMushroom

The relationship between An Zhe and Lu Feng deepens in the best way possible, but it’s all embroiled in an existential mess of “how exactly are we going to survive what’s coming next?” #MLLittleMushroom

You get some reprieve during An Zhe and Lu Feng time, but it’s less comic relief and more “OMG they’re just the cutest couple ever” relief (and then everything goes to hell again). #MLLittleMushroom

That’s why book 2 is so compelling - it jumps deep into the disastrous world book 1 created and works hard to wrap things up while following the golden rule of storytelling - set a goal for the characters, then put every obstacle to achieving it in their way. #MLLittleMushroom

To the very end you’re strung along wondering how this will all play out, and will it even HAVE a happy ending? (I’m not giving that bit away.) #MLLittleMushroom

So even if you’re not into Danmei (yet, it’s a slippery slope and a good hell), if you’re the type who enjoys the “we’re all going to die but we don’t know why and we’re going to go down fighting anyways, love you” genre, PLEASE pick up Little Mushroom! #MLLittleMushroom

It’s got something for everyone, and the writing is so easy to read yet so profound. And hey, we can never have too many boys? Mushrooms? To protect, right? Right!? Please read it and scream with me. #MLLittleMushroom


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