Rating - 3.5 worth reading, parts worth re-reading (borrow or buy it)
When these guys get back to the main plot, they're not messing around.
Light's gambit comes together, putting him back in the game against L in a surprisingly strong position. New challengers to Kira arise.
The first arc in this book is excellent, clearly a 4. I said before that we knew where Light's plan had to lead, and it does go there, but the parts left unmentioned take it much further. Light plotted out three volumes worth of the plot beforehand, and it is very impressive to watch it play out in this one. The pawns can see themselves being manipulated, comment on it, then carry out their parts anyway due to the way things are set up.
I love it when a plan comes together.
The book ends on the beginning of a next arc. This is an unfortunate arrangement of the volumes, because it is a horrid stopping place. It is not long enough to establish the new arc, just that a new arc has begun. At this point, Near comes across as an autistic knock-off of L, without enough dialogue to take him anywhere interesting, and the background for Mello does nothing to mitigate the constant urge to smack him.
Mello's art is problematic. It goes beyond androgynous; I did not realize he was male until someone pointed it out. He lacks masculine facial features but has very feminine hair and outfits. He has one pose that looks masculine. Near is more classically cherubic.
The art around the time skip is good. Characters are older but still themselves, most visibly Sayu but most notably Aizawa. The maturation in his look is simple but effective. Death Note uses black backgrounds for the negative space when outside normal time, and this effect stacks up during the time skip; it is a dark time.
Light comes across strongly in both text and visuals. The images of his megalomania are sufficiently overblown, and his facial expressions say what the words need not.
I am still looking for a decent female character. I had brief hopes for Mello, which the character ruined before I realized the gender issue. Sayu may have potential, or not. I don't really have hopes for either except that Mello can become less annoying or else die quickly. Neither seems immediately likely.