The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

A copy of The Scumn Villain's Self-Saving System, Vol I by MXTX

Genre: Light novel
Available on Bookshop.Org*

Note: As of this writing, United Workers of Seven Seas been voluntarily recognized by Seven Seas! You can find out more about their union at their website.

I first became aware of this book through a TikTok where a college student was describing how she accidentally got her experimental lit English professor interested in the series. I personally was drawn to it based on the self-referential parts of the story. The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System thrusts a young man (recently deceased) into the role of the villain of his favorite light novel. He knows that his character is destined to be killed by the hero, so he attempts to change the story and his role in it.

While reading this book, I felt often out-of-my-league, so please take my discussion with a grain of salt! The book itself is very much focused on cultivation light novels and their tropes.  Cultivation novels are typically focused on characters training their qi to perform superhuman feats and control their body. There's a helpful glossary in the back to provide context. Reading this as my first cultivation novel seems like watching Evangelion as a first mech anime, Madoka as a first magical girl anime, or Cabin in the Woods as a first horror movie.

This first volume establishes the central conceit of the book and raises its stakes. The System is an AI that monitors Shen Qingqiu's actions and assigns him points based off how badass he is, the hero's satisfaction, and other miscellaneous story beats as he relives the novel. There's also plenty of poking fun at the genre as a whole, including absurdly large casts, side plots, and reoccurring themes. It's also clear that the story is building towards a romantic relationship between Shen Qingqiu and the hero, but that doesn't arrive by the end of Volume I.

I am interested in reading the later volumes to see where this story is going. However, until then, I'm not sure what to make of it. This reflects on me as the reader, rather than the work itself. However, it has piqued my interested in exploring more light novels as a whole, especially since I know I should read more translated works.

Content Warning Notes:

  • Graphic depictions of violence, child abuse and bullying
  • Moderate deceptions of torture
  • Secondary character deaths

Next Week's Review: Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel by Julian K. Jarboe

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