Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff ReviewHardcover: 336 Pages
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Steampunk

Book One: Stormdancer
Book Two: Untitled

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Amazon Summary:

The first in an epic new fantasy series, introducing an unforgettable new heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan.

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.

My Review:

What first caught  my attention when I was looking for books to buy, was the cover for Stormdancer! It was so pretty and unique! I literally spent two minutes just oohing and ahhing over it! The name Stormdancer, caught my attention as well. It didn't really make sense to me in the beginning because I had no idea what a Stormdancer was, maybe someone who dances in storms? but after reading the novel, It finally clicked! There aren't nearly enough YA Asian mythology/culture novels out there! I've probably read about two dozen Greek Mythology books, but Stormdancer is only the third Asian related book I've read so far! The other two I've read are Eon and Eona which is more based off of Chinese Mythology, rather than Stormdancer's Japanese Mythology.

The main character, Yukiko, was a sixteen year old girl with a deadly secret. Out of all the reviews I've read, every single one of them gushed about a strong female protagonist, and I mean come on, who wouldn't want to read about that? Yukiko didn't just stand by idly and pretend that everything in her world was fine, when the rain was black, the land was contaminated, and the people were dying off from pollution faster than they were born. When no one else would speak up against the Guild members and Royalty, she did. She stood up for what she believed in, even when it might have costed her her life. Yukiko was also very intelligent and cunning. She didn't let pride stand in her way, in fact she would push it down and play the act of a subservient woman, even when she was raging inside. She did whatever it took to accomplish her goals, and never wavered from it.

The Arashitora (Stormtiger), Buruu, was my favorite character out of the whole book. When he was first caught by Yukiko's father, he was angry, terrified, and in disbelief that something as great as he could be caught. One thing I loved about Buruu, was that his actions were realistic, and that he didn't build some instant bond with Yukiko that other YA novels what have put in just to move the novel along quicker. Instead, they built a slow and steady bond, that sprang from disdain and distrust, to affection for each other's company, and finally to a unbreakable bond that was held together by a love for each other. Another thing I loved was that Buruu grew as a character throughout the book. As their friendship flourished, Buruu started adopting Yukiko's tone of voice and turned from an impulsive creature, into a intelligent and perceptive soul with a human mind.

The action in this novel, was at times a little slow paced and tedious. Jay tends to be a little extensive and overzealous with his descriptions. I had trouble getting into the novel at first, because all of the Japanese sayings, terms, and similar names were a bit confusing to me. I kept picking up the book, setting it back down, then picking it up again because I was hoping it would get better. I was so happy that I did! There was one certain scene that the author created, that had tears dripping from my eyes and emotion clawing up my throat. When Buruu and Yukiko trusted each other with their lives and fought as one being, one entity. It was so beautiful, inspiring, and heart wrenching!

The worldbuilding was amazing as well! I saw that Stormdancer was described as a Steampunk novel many times. Although I have heard of the term before, I have never knew what it actually meant. I kind of guessed that it had something to do with machinery, because steam comes from machines. Finally, I just googled it online. Turns out I was right, to an extent. The official definition of Steampunk from Wikepedia is a genre that incorporates science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. Sounds interesting right? I still had no idea what that meant so I just decided to see for my self! After reading Stormdancer, it kind of became obvious to me. Basically it's just Japanese culture and mythology mixed in with machinery like cars and trains and stuff. This kind of left me with a funny mental picture throughout the novel. People wearing kimonos and airplane goggles. Weird....but unique. xD

Overall, if you enjoy reading about Japanese Mythology, machinery, kick ass and cunning protagonists, cool animal sidekicks, betrayal, defiance, or all of the above, you'll love what Stormdancer has to offer!

Heroine- 4.5/5
Romance- 1/5
Action- 4/5
First 70 to 80 pages of Stormdancer was a little too slow paced for my taste.
Comedy- 4.5/5
Overall- 3.5/5

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