September 19, 2014

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Series: The Lotus War #1
Source: gifted hardcover
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: Sep 18, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
If I were talking about this book on twitter (were I such a person), here are some of the hashtags I'd be bound to use: #Japan #Feudal #Steampunk #Dysopia #Fantasy #Griffins #War.
Do any of those sound like something you might like? Then this is probably the book for you!

Although, I'd like to warm major Japan buffs: Either don't read the book, or prepare to look of it as a new, separate reality than actual Japan, because the author has confessed to using Wikipedia for his research, and sometimes - you could really sense that. Especially when using honorifics (wrongly. A lot). I love Japan, and yes - some of the blatant mistakes kind of grated, but I loved the world. I love the Japanish feel of it, but because of the dystoia and steampunk elements, I really didn't feel I need to force "reality" on it. It's a completely new world - so I was able to enjoy it. But many people hate on this book for the same reasons - people with better understanding of Japan than the author. So enter prepared; or don't enter at all.

One of my favorite things about this book was the writing. I kept comparing it to that of Ink, a book I tried reading last month also set in Japan - there, everything felt forced, like it was trying too hard. Not here. I felt like the author had a great grasp of the world he created; describing it almost effortlessly, in a way that was easy for the reader to follow - but also immensely beautiful and sometimes poetic. He also has a talent for either starting or ending a chapter on high notes. Like, really.

But my absolute favorite thing in this book? Like, hands down favorite, makes all-the-shit-that-happens-later-worth-it-just-to-read-about-it favorite? Yukiko and Buruu.

Yukiko is our Main Character, a girl who knows both the excess of the rulers and the poverty of the mass, a girl who's both highly trained and afraid. A girl forced to move beyond her fears. Buruu is also our main character - only he's an Arashitora (a Griffin). These two were so amazing together. Their growing friendship was just the most delightful thing to read about, and Buruu was so awesome I can't even! I swear to god, if Kristoff hurts Buruu (more than he already has) I will find where he lives and force him to change what he wrote and publicly apologize for the pain he had caused me (and everyone else).

Speaking of shit happening... The casualty count is pretty high, y'all. Don't expect everyone you love to survive BECAUSE THEY DON'T AND I AM NOT OKAY, OKAY?! It's kind of nerve wrecking, to be honest. I didn't know this is what I was getting into, and I got lolled into a sense of security by the first half when things are still oka-WHAM darkness darkness darkness! My, this book got heavy! Not in a bad way, but... in a hard way? Gah, don't know how to explain myself.

Let's move to something easier - the romance! Which was... How to sum it in one word? Hmm... I guess, to keep off spoilers, I'll use the word... weak. I loved that Kristoff laughed about Insta Love through it, though. But, as I decidedly didn't ship the two involved, and my actual ship actually contains bestiality so it's kind of impossible (I can't help it. Yukiko and Buruu are so perfect together, and I'm not even sorry! If Kristoff managed to give him to ability to turn into a human at will so it could happen, I'd be overjoyed, but I sense that won't happen) I made do with another ship.

And as I've read some reviews of book two, I heard that ship sinks, so now I'm uber afraid to read it. Way to go, me! I'll get over it, I'm sure, but not before book three comes out.


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