Wednesday, September 15, 2010

King of Thorn, Volume 2 by Yuji Iwahara

Kazumi was once just an ordinary student, along with her twin sister Shizuku. But when they both were infected with Medusa, a disease that changes your cells, turning them to something like stone or dried clay, they knew it was a death sentence. Then, Kazumi was selected to take part in an experiment in cold sleep, keeping the infected alive but in hibernation- until a cure could be found.

When the test subjects woke up, though, the world had changed, and the once pristine lab where they were locked up was overgrown with huge thorned vines, and lizard or dragon-like monsters seem to have taken over the island. Only one man, Marco Owen, seems to know what is going on, and he is trying to lead the others to safety. But he's told Kazumi that they may have a traitor in their midst who is keeping an eye on the others. Why? Marko isn't sure.

Kazumi and the others have managed to escape the room they woke up in, and they have found an underwater tunnel leading away from the island. But the tunnel is partially filled with water, and with huge blind reptiles that hunt through sensing the movement of the water. But how can they escape without disturbing the water, and without being eaten? Well, they can't. The Senator is killed and eaten by the water monsters, but the rest of them escape.

Until they reach the top and realize that one of them- a bespectacled scientist, has locked the door behind him, trapping them within. The only way for them to escape is to send the youngest member of the group, Tim, through the ducts to the other side of the door and escape.

But he also tells them the truth- he's an operative for the CIA and he suspects that the scientists who set up this entire place were actually behind the release of Medusa into the USA and the world. He was sent to find out the truth- and he didn't have much of a choice but to agree, because he was a famous hacker and in jail, and he didn't want to stay in jail for the rest of his life.

Kazumi and the others believe now that the scientist with the glasses was the mole. But was he? When Kazumi gets separated from the rest, she finds out that the scientist was the man who developed the coldsleep capsules, and that he and his friends, who were also his team, were kept out of the loop as to what would be done with them.

So, who is the real traitor, and who is behind the plague known as Medusa? As the last few survivors struggle to keep themselves alive and figure out what is going on, can Kazumi find Marco and the others before anyone else dies, and what is really going on with the disease and the facility? How long have they been asleep and why has this happened to the island. Just what is really going on here? And who is the blonde girl who is keeping watch on the survivors.

An excellent follow-up to the first volume, keeping up the tension and ramping it, and the paranoia, up several notches. It's really getting to the point where I am starting to wonder about the remaining characters. If there is a traitor, who is it? Not the senator- he's dead already. Could it be the black man? Or how about the overly dramatic blonde woman? She certainly seems to be acting somewhat suspiciously.

Or could it be Marco? I mean, we are talking "least likely" suspects here, and Marco is one of the least likely. And now that the scientist has been cleared- I think, it doesn't seem like it might be him. And Kazumi and Tim? Well, they seem very unlikely, too, and we share Kazumi's memories, so not her. And Tim is just too young to be a spy.

I love this manga for keeping me interested in and invested in the story. Every time you turn the page, you learn something new that will keep you interested and longing to learn more and to figure out the mystery. I eagerly await the next volume. Highly recommended.

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