Log Horizon by Mamare Touno, illustrated by Kazuhiro Hara, translated by Taylor Engel
When the ever popular computer game "Elder Tales" put out it's newest update the players expected new areas, new quests, and a higher level cap. That part went as planned but tens of thousands of players also found themselves inside the game, or possibly in another world which just looks like the game. The reclusive Shiro finds himself in the game with a lot of pros and cons, he's taller, stronger, and can't be killed but on the other hand, in-game food is now terrible and he still has to eat and sleep. But these are things you can't change overnight and it seems like the best way to figure out what is going on and how to get back home is to play the game so he and old comrades Naotsugu and Akatsuki team up and explore this strange new world.
These novels really are "a light read" in terms of page length and flow, it's easy to breeze through one in just a few days even if you aren't a fast reader. Given that I'm familiar with the anime this was doubly so, the anime was a rather faithful adaption as I had suspected. There are a few changes here and there, mostly that there's a little more foreshadowing present and the same events take place over a longer period of time than the anime implied. Honestly the only big change I saw between versions was that in the books when a monster dies their carcass remains and the characters have to physically dismantle it to obtain materials, in the anime (airing in an after school time slot) the monsters just vanish in a burst of rainbow bubbles which I think I like a little more.
The characters also come out a little more fleshed out here since there's more time for long conversations and sometimes it's easier to write out little character quirks and details than to show them and hope everyone notices. Naotsugu comes off as less dumb than he does in the anime, less focused on being a silly, panty-focused perv, and Akatatsuki is a little more intense in her master-ninja roleplaying. I had always wondered in the anime how much of that was an act and how much of it was her natural personality but only after the anime pointed it out, here it's mentioned from the very beginning and it certainly made me look at her a little differently.
The translation flowed well and the fold-out color pages in the beginning were a nice touch so overall I'm satisfied with the book. If you're another really big fan of the Log Horizon series I think this is worth picking up and perusing but if you're not then I don't think you would get anything new out of this experience. Like I said, the anime was a really good adaptation so I can completely understand why someone would want to watch the show instead of read it, as long as people are giving it a shot one way or another I'm happy!