July 17, 2012
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
What's not to like about a dystopian, steampunk, book in feudal Japan? Well, really there's not a whole lot in this book that isn't good, but for some reason, I just had a hard time getting into it. As a side note, my cat is named Arashi, so I got a little smile out of the name used for the griffin in this book.
Yukiko is the daughter of the great hunter for the Shogun (ruler) of their country. In a land filled with toxins produced by the blood lotus, a flower that is a hallucinogen and can be used to make fuel, things have slowly gone from bad to worse. Now, the Shogun has decided he wants an Arashitora (griffin), the only problem is, no one has seen any for hundreds of years. But Yukiko and her father have no choice, they must go hunting for one or risk their lives, and when they do find one, capturing it isn't going to be easy. Through a series of events the griffin and Yukiko must rely on each other and learn more about what kind of world they want to live in.
Yukiko is a good character. She's strong, brave, and manages to get herself into quite a bit of trouble; enough to keep it interesting anyway. But she can also be incredibly naive and wishy-washy. Buruu is a much cooler character. He's a griffin, so that's a little strange, but I really liked his personality. Even the way the author had him "talk" in the book was kind of neat and seemed completely fitting for how a Griffin should speak. I did think the bad guy, while supposed to be menacing, just didn't really make my blood run cold. Some of the side characters did a better job of that because while he talked the talk, he never really did too much where you could read about it. We were just told after of his actions.
The book's pace is kind of slow through the first couple chapters. There's a lot of world building, and while that's important, it made it hard for me to keep with it. Finally, I made myself sit down and really start reading the book and it started getting more and more interesting and the pace improved to where I had to finish it, I couldn't set it down. So at least it ended on a good note. The premise is very unique. While there's all sorts of elements used from other books, they're an odd mix that somehow the author uses very well. I liked how there were fantasy creatures mixed in with steampunk elements. It was unusual. The language was a little strange, not something I'd expect to read for a society set in Japan, it was more American, and slang. And there was even some cursing. I guess I just expected more formal language.
An interesting book, and worth sticking through the slow beginning for. I look forward to the next in the series.