Thursday, 26 July 2012
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff- A long and gushing review
This story is about a girl named Yukiko, her special gift and her broken family. Ordered by their Shogun (their emperor/king basically) the hunters of the imperial court, led by Yukiko’s own father, set off on the impossible task to find a thunder tiger, knowing that the beast is extinct and the mad Shogun’s order is basically a death sentence. If they refuse, they die. If they fail, they die. The only thing they can do is set off on a sky ship, the Thunder Child, and pray that their God grants them fortune but fortune always comes about in a way no one expects. Set in a Japan inspired land with lots of steampunk elements this really is an epic fantasy.
When I received this book I was instantly surprised. I had applied to get an advance copy for review but expected not to be able to get my hands on this book until it was released in paperback. So of course when I did get a review copy I was instantly terrified that either I would hate the book or my review would be terrible. And neither is something you want to do with a highly anticipated novel. That being said, my review may still be terrible but I definitely did not hate this book although I'm still pretty certain they only accidentally sent me a copy to review.
The book starts off by throwing you into the action, Yukiko is fighting for her life against the Oni, but you have no clue how she got there or why a winged beast is attempting to save her and before you find anything out you are taken back to a few weeks before the fight starts.
For the first quarter of the book you are introduced to the muti-dimensional and flawed characters on-board the Thunder Child, as well as the world that Yukiko lives in. Jay Kristoff has this amazing way of describing things. One of the most memorable scenes to me is when Yukiko is walking through the market to the docks. The description is exquisite. No detail is missed by Kristoff, he uses all of the senses to make you feel like you are actually walking along with Yukiko experiencing the terrible and grand things that she does.
Occasionally the description gets a little repetitive but I think that aspect is needed as you are so fully submerged in this other culture and without the slight repetition you would not know what was going on because there are so many different elements to remember.
This story is more than I was ever expecting, I was expecting a reluctant hunter’s daughter to find a thunder tiger and become a Stormdancer, pulling her family from poverty to riches, or something along those lines. But this is so much more. There is love, betrayal, an insane leader and a corrupt, fanatical guild vying for power but neither able to truly control on their own. There is civil unrest, substance abuse, friendships, loss, sex, murder as well as twists and turns all the way through that weave a tail of morality above all.
This book does not pussy foot around important issues as many YA’s do. It acknowledges and addresses them head on in a way that say’s “these things exist and we can’t ignore them or pretend that good people don’t have flaws.” Which is what I love most about all these characters, they are all flawed. No one is perfect but they try to be as good as they can in the terrible situations they are in.
I don’t know if you can tell but I’m trying to write this review without spoiling it because there is so much that you just need to read for yourself to fully appreciate it so my review isn’t talking about any of the specific elements I loved. I am reviewing the book as a whole and being very general because I honestly think you need to go out and read this book, if for nothing else read it for Yukiko who is one of the best female protagonists I have read in a long time. She is strong but at times naively unaware. The relationships she forms with people and creatures feel very organic and even though this book is not from her point of view Jay Kristoff captured her personality and voice so perfectly I can still hear her in my head.
One problem I had with the book is that I’m terrible with names, and a lot of main characters are given multiple names in this book which sometimes mean I wasn’t sure who I was reading about but I usually figured it out after a paragraph.
OK, so wow. For a really general review this is really frigging long but I just loved it. In just one book Kristoff, the literal literary giant, has created a brilliantly thought out world with a cast of three-dimensional characters. The way it ended was perfect; I loved how he didn’t take 3 or 4 books to tackle a problem. It was dealt with and I can’t wait to see how the world continues to develop and tackle its issues in the next two books. I hope they live up to the high bar Jay has set himself. THIS IS A MUST READ!
I'd like to thank Jay and Tor for sending me this book to review.