Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (the Novel) is an adaptation of the video game of the same name, written by Tomoco Kanemaki with illustrations by Shiro Amano. In Chain of Memories, Sora and the gang must make their way through Castle Oblivion, a mysterious castle under the control of Organization XIII, in order to find those he’s looking for and recover the memories he’s lost.
Like the previous Kingdom Hearts novel, Chain of Memories condenses much of the game into a format that works better as a novel. The video game itself was always a bit weak; its story was good, but much of it felt like a rehash of the first Kingdom Hearts game. This adaptation suffers a bit from that, especially in the first part of Sora’s story. But once the second part of Sora’s story starts, and all throughout Riku’s story, Chain of Memories starts to find its own story and ends up being more of an engaging story than the first game’s adaptation was. Especially in the department of character development.
One of the things I love about Chain of Memories is how character focused it is. I mean, it’s hard not to be character focused when your entire premise revolves around the malleability of memories and how they can be manipulated and molded into whatever someone desires. There’s a theme throughout the novel of the idea that memory is so unreliable that you can lie to yourself enough that you believe the lie to be a true memory. Naturally, Kingdom Hearts uses this idea in more of a fantasy style than reality, but it’s still a relatable concept. Many of us have memories that we aren’t 100% sure are real. There are events we think back on that cause us to question if they really happened, or if we just imagined it.
Like the previous adaptation, Kanemaki’s writing style still leaves a bit to be desired, though there is some improvement this time around. There’s not quite as much “avoiding using ‘said'” as there was in the previous book, which is nice. Some of the descriptions are getting a bit more detailed and poetic, which is also nice. It’s still written in a very easy to digest way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it’s not like the Kingdom Hearts series is high art, after all. They’re enjoyable video games with a fun story, and this adaptation does a good job at showcasing the best elements of the series.
I particularly liked when Kanemaki would shift the focus away from Sora and show a bit of the behind the scenes workings of Organization XIII. Some of that is because the members of Organization XIII have always been my favorite characters in the series, and I’ve always been fascinated by the group, so any extra information on them I can get is a very positive thing. But even aside from that, it opens up the narrative a bit. It gives the story room to breathe, especially as this book begins the journey that takes the series into its more complicated and convoluted installments.
All in all, Chain of Memories: The Novel is an improvement on Kanemaki’s previous outing in the Kingdom Hearts universe, and is an enjoyable read for anyone who’s a fan of the series and wants to experience the story of the game in a different medium.
I give it 4 out of 5 wands.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (the Novel) is published by Yen Press and can be purchased in both paperback and e-book formats.