My Life as an Internet Novel might be for you if you like reincarnated/wakeup in another world storylines that make you question what you would do in the same situation. Just a warning before you start though, this manhwa is a little messed up.
Our main character, Ham Dan-I, who I will refer to as Dani for the rest of this analysis/theory/review, is featured center stage holding a green book in the cover image above. On her first day of middle school, she wakes up in an alternate world. The only difference she notices at first is that her uniform has changed. Upon exiting her apartment, Dani meets a girl, Ban Yeoryeong, who thinks she’s Dani’s best friend. From there the story takes off. Dani realizes she’s living in the world of a web novel where her childhood friend is the protagonist and, sure enough, it plays out like many tropes we’ve seen in rom-com reverse harem tales from the shoujo genre, with Dani’s personal experiences quickly being overlooked in favor of Ban Yeoryeong by the “four kings” of their school (aka, four hot romantic leads for Ban Yeoryeong to fall in love with).
It starts off comedically enough until you realize the darker under layers of the work that are slowly building momentum, the first of which (aside from being in a new world) is one that she still hasn’t noticed yet: her parents aren’t her parents. They’re the Dani of this world’s parents and, as such, even though they act the same as her parents, the ones she’s always known, they have different memories from our Dani. The next trouble is that her best friend of this world, Ban Yeoryeong, is a stranger, and her original-world best friend is gone. She doesn’t share Ban Yeoryeong’s memories, so Dani can’t reflect on the past with her, and their new friends–the four kings, who are targeting Ban Yeoryeong as a love interest–are hard to approach as Dani is the forgettable best friend to the heroine they’re attracted towards. It’s really messed up as you think of the psychological damage it’s causing her to put on the act of being the Dani of this world, and that’s doubled as we see her break away from what’s happening in the present to compare it to story tropes. Her internal turmoil over the events laying out before her is clearly a significant stressor as the story continues, turning the light-hearted and funny premise into a darker and darker tale as Dani experiences shifts between the two realities on the anniversary of her first transfer to this world, March 2nd.
Can you imagine waking up in an alternate world? Your whole life shifted with no one to talk to about it? Your closest friend is gone. Your family doesn’t understand and treats it as a joke. The new friends you have aren’t really yours, their someone else’s who happened to look exactly like you. It’s dark and yet wrapped in a pretty pastel bow of a shoujo rom-com set-up.
At first, Dani wanted to return to her original world and tries to avoid being pulled into the shoujo web novel-like plot, but as time progresses, she begins to build a life in this new world. However, on March 2nd, she’s thrown back, for a short time, to her original world–a world that’s progressed without her. It’s traumatizing. Especially as she returns to this new world where she’s begun building a life only to find that in the time she was gone, she was erased completely–even from her new “life-long, childhood” best friend, Ban Yeoryeong.
Its story feels like a new approach in the growing isekai genre, though I’m pretty sure I’ve read a similar premise to this many years ago. Still, I like how the dark twist isn’t something like being bullied or an addition of some supernatural cult of people who can walk between realities that try to recruit her (not going to lie, I kind of expected the latter). It’s a pleasant switch from focusing so much on the cause or magic behind the unexplained world switch to the discussion of what would you do and how could it change your life? With Dani, the answer is complicated. She tries at first to hold onto her original world, like many of us might, but over time she’s worn down by time, social pressure, and perhaps even loneliness of trying to avoid making friends.
The more she integrates herself, we see physical changes, something she notices too as she comments that her hair and eye color are growing lighter, which seems to make the shift back to her original world that much scarier to her. For her, and for us, it starts to become a question of what’s real. I think that both are real, but what does that mean for Dani, who’s split between the two worlds.
If she disappears from her current one, there is no other “Dani” to replace her; it seems because her friends, and again even “her” childhood friend Ban Yeoryeong, forget about her existence. Moreover, when she does arrive back in her original world, we never see her parents or their response to her–so what happened to the other Dani? The one that we’ve been guessing replaced our Dani in the original world?
My Life as an Internet Novel is the kind of story that makes you start thinking about what’s really going on beyond the fake smile of our main character. It makes you question what you might do in the same position and how you might feel. The writing is good, and the beginning chapters are funny as Dani sees trope after trope from the genre enacted by “real” people while still keeping that thought and feeling of otherness at the forefront of our minds.
It’s not a very exciting story, but it is a nice read if you enjoy stories that make you think and imagine yourself in a similar situation.
I can’t say I’d give the series a total 10/10 as of yet, mostly because when I first started reading, I felt like I had read a similar starting premise before. That’s not entirely uncommon to the reborn/isekai genre as many start with the same premise and even take similar paths in storytelling, but, still, my judgment stands… -0.5 for that. I’ll add a full negative point for the main character forgetting her parents repeatedly. They only appear at weird times. Had they been used in the beginning set-up and forgotten afterward I could probably forgive and forget but with recent chapters showing the parents popping back up in weird moments not important to the plot after playing a part in the kick-off of said plot (changing worlds).
Recommendation: 8/10 Would read.