Having already mistakenly read the sequel to this, not realizing it was part of a series when I caught wind of it on BookTok, I thought it only made sense to pick up the rest of the series and start with the first book that I’d accidentally skipped. Suffice it to say, I think Kawaguchi was still yet to find their footing with this one. Whereas with its sequel, there were multiple moments where I was moved to tears, a rare feat for a book, this one felt like it desperately wanted to be sad and meaningful, only it didn’t strike those same chords, or at least it didn’t do so as confidently and beautifully. I think part of it had to do with the fact that the central conceit was still being actively teased out a little. In the second book, certain rules that were mentioned in the first one don’t even get a mention, at least not that I can recall, such as that you are cursed by the ghost sitting in that chair if you try to force them out of it, or that you can’t travel back in time more than once. And other bits feel almost too convenient and slapstick for me to take seriously, like how the ghost absolutely cannot say no to another cup of coffee, meaning all it takes to get them to vacate the seat is overloading them on coffee until they have to pee. Like how did that not sound stupid when they read that back? It must’ve occurred to them at some point between the first and second book, since that and the curse thing, the two silliest bits, are a distant memory in the second. Had this been my intro to the series, however, I don’t know that I would’ve read further, which is quite a shame. I’ll just say, to anybody looking into these books, just trust that it gets better from here. I can’t speak to anything after the second book, but the second book alone is worth it, I promise you.