I was a voracious reader. It was a matter of devouring stories in days, even hours. Many may relate to this experience of getting lost in different worlds, and it is a wonderful thing if they do. Because that’s what Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint by author duo Sing Shong is all about – the experience of being a reader.
Unfortunately, that was a status I wasn’t able to maintain. Growing up, “reading” was the first hobby I would list if anyone asked that dreaded question. For a brief, foolish moment, I truly believed that love would last forever.
This stubborn, sturdy love gradually faded over time. It wasn’t that the emotion had been purged completely. It was more as if this love had been imprisoned behind bars of steel, where I could feel the emotion peeking through at times, but never at the full force of what it had once been. The emotion had lost its warmth, and it felt like nothing but hopeless longing.
I wonder then as I wonder now: Is this what a reading slump feels like?
If it were a reading slump, it was a nasty one with clawed fingers and an iron grip that only dragged me further into the depths of a still nothingness, one that wasn’t resolved by the casual skimming of pages that I forced myself to do.
Enter Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint.
Here’s a brief synopsis so we’re on the same page: One day, office worker Kim Dokja and the world he resides in is thrown into nightmarish scenarios that no one can escape from. Dokja quickly realises that his favourite web novel “Three Ways to Survive the Apocalypse” has infiltrated reality and that only he, as the sole reader of the series, knows how the story will unfold.
It all started with Tumblr, as some things do, where I came across a post about it along with an image by artist BLACKBOX, who creates the official artwork for the web novel series. The art felt futuristic, cool, and oddly enough, lonely. These factors alone were sufficient to spark the desire to learn more. It started with the Webtoon, and when I just had to know more, I moved on to the web novel.
Reading the series felt gratifying. It felt familiar too. Being immediately immersed in a new world that combined what is known with a whole new set of rules where I was thrown back to the Young Adult novels I read so much of in the past. The concept of the reader being in a story they had read about was familiar territory too, with Isekai manhwa preparing me for this day.
But the series was different. As I read on, it wasn’t just about reaching the end of the story, completing the quest, or about one man’s journey to become a better version of himself. It was more than that.
It was about being a reader in all its messy, wondrous, and complicated glory. Dokja’s enthusiasm for the world, his in-depth knowledge, and the way he speaks of certain characters and events speaks volumes of how much he loves the world. While the reader’s experience varies, typical situations we face can include falling slowly or rapidly in love with the characters and the world. Having Dokja being so invested in the story and its characters was itself a beautiful experience. All while he was sharing about the story he loved so much, I found myself falling in love with his story. The series managed to meld fantasy with a tremendous volume of human nature and emotion that perhaps becoming fond of the story was inevitable.
In my years of browsing online, it isn’t difficult to come across posts and comments by people mentioning how a story or a certain piece of media has saved them. Naturally this does not mean that the story physically saves the person (except perhaps in some outlandish scenario I cannot currently imagine). Reading and stories provide sanctuary, escapism, comfort, and a diverse range of experiences.
To Dokja, the novel “Three Ways to Survive the Apocalypse” was his salvation. Although Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint did not offer me the same kind of salvation and my case has not been as severe as that of Dokja’s, it was nonetheless a circumstance I have experienced and that which my heart goes out to.
The series isn’t all depth and gravity, it has its comedic moments too. As it introduces and features many characters across different mythologies, this makes for some lighthearted scenes and exchanges between the characters. The witty writing is closer to that I usually see in visual novels, and it thoroughly suits the tone of the story. That’s another thing the series does well – balance the plotline with tension, mystery, thrill, and fun. What’s there not to love about that?
In the end, Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint is also largely about how readers breathe life into stories. The series explores the relationship between author, reader, and the story itself. The moment a reader grows to love a story is also when the story lives, breathes, and has the potential of becoming immortal. For me, it sparked the question “How does a story come to life?” and helped me reevaluate my relationship with reading.
Therefore, in our world where it has always been about trends and fads that speed by and fade before anyone can put in much thought at all or bring themselves to care enough about, the series can be refreshing. After all, it’s a story that embodies love, sacrifice, and loneliness. It’s about leaving behind everything for the sake of what you love the most in the world. It’s about enduring immense loneliness just to meet that one person again. It’s about found family, a broken world, and all that comes after.
Now all that’s done and over, let’s end this with the series’s first line:
“[There are three ways to survive in a ruined world. Now, I have forgotten a few, but one thing is certain. The fact that you who are reading this now will survive.
-Three ways to survive in a ruined world]”
Written by: Jia Xuan