Series: The Lotus War, #1
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Number of Pages: 336
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
A DYING LAND
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.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
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.
A HIDDEN GIFT
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 you're a regular user of Goodreads, and you read young adult, odds are you've heard of the book that's been having people all over the book blogging - and young adult reading - community raving, and waiting in agony of its release. That book, of course, being Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. I'm not going to lie: despite the glowing five star reviews from friends of mine, and the fact that pretty much all of Goodreads is highly anticipating this book, I never really was. I don't know why, but the synopsis just did nothing for me, and I had a feeling that, despite all of the rave reviews, I just wouldn't like this book. However, when I saw it on NetGalley, I decided that I might as well request it, and if I'm accepted, I'll give it a shot, and if I'm not, no worries. Let me just take the time right now to say that I am very happy I took the chance and requested this book on NetGalley.“Dying is easy. Anyone can throw themselves onto the pyre and rest a happy martyr. Enduring the suffering that comes with sacrifice is the real test.”
In a dying and polluted land, Kitsune Yukiko (otherwise known as just Yukiko), and her father, Masaru, are given a command from the Shōgun of Shima, Yoritomo, to look for an ancient beast known as the arashitora. All throughout Shima, arashitoras are thought to be extinct, and the quest to go and find one is seemingly impossible, but, following the orders of the Shōgun, Yukiko and her father embark on this quest. Unbeknownst to the public, Yukiko retains a special ability to communicate with animals via telepathy. However, as Yukiko and her father's way of transportation breaks down, the quest has suddenly gone awry, and Yukiko is left alone, befriending an arashitora named Buruu. The longer Yukiko is left in this barren world with Buruu, the more she finds out about secrets withheld from her for her whole life: secrets that can change said life forever.
Stormdancer and I got off to a pretty bumpy start, and I found myself soon bored by the incredibly detailed everything, and I didn't have a clue as to most of what was going on throughout the first quarter of the novel, because terms I did not know were being thrown around like wildfire, with hardly any explanation as to what those terms mean. Eventually, with my friends Google and context, I was able to unravel the meaning of the terms, which made way for an entirely enjoyable read afterwards. (And also, there's a glossary in the back of the book, but for me, it would have been too much of a pain to go back and forth from the glossary to my current page on my Kindle.)
Upon reading the first few pages of Stormdancer, the first thing I noticed was the extremely captivating writing (and, of course, the immense amount of detail). As well as that, it's quite clear, given the world building provided, that Kristoff has done his research and that he definitely knows what he's talking about. And, of course, it's also quite clear that he has an immeasurable amount of talent as a writer.
The central characters in Stormdancer are well developed, flawed, and likable, but unfortunately, I never felt that I had a real connection to them. Sure, I cared about what would have happened to them throughout the novel, but honestly, to me, they were just characters. I love it when I have the feeling that the characters I'm reading about are more than just characters. I love it when I feel like the characters I'm reading about are real people; so real that I can reach through the pages and hug them, and I hate to say that I didn't feel that when reading Stormdancer.
As well as my lack of a connection with the characters, I also didn't feel any connection to the romance between Yukiko and Kin, and quite possibly an extra participant to vie for Yukiko's love, Hiro, the boy with the sea green eyes. To me, the romance just felt completely unnecessary to the plot, and the (view spoiler)[sex scene between Yukiko and Hiro (hide spoiler)] felt completely out of place in the midst of what was going on at the time.
However, despite my problems with the overly detailed descriptions, the lack of a connection with the characters, and the same for the romance, I found Stormdancer to be an original and stunningly written debut, and I eagerly anticipate the next book in The Lotus War series, as well as any future projects Kristoff has planned.