Aug 27, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff

Hey, guys! Welcome to my stop for the Stormdancer blog tour organized by Pinoy Book Tours!

Title: Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Release Date: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: finished copy borrowed from Dianne of Oops! I Read A Book Again
Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.
But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.
Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she's determined to do something about it.
Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?
One negative review was all it took to turn me off from reading Stormdancer around the time it was released. It mentioned the overuse of Japanese words and whatnot, and I knew I'd have a problem with this book. But when PBT announced that they were organizing this tour, I thought, why the hell not? 

And I'm glad I gave it a chance.

A lot of people had a hard time getting past the beginning of this book, and I'm one of them. The first hundred pages were a struggle, wordy but with little action; I actually dozed off after every two chapters or so, but even with those breaks, I missed no detail. I thoroughly understood each of the numerous characters and could clearly envision the dystopian world polluted by proud leaders, blackened rain, smothering air, and cowardly tyrants parading around in iron suits. Anyway, as soon as I got past Part 1 (there are three, if I remember correctly), this book got infinitely better and I started devouring it.

Aside from Yukiko, the MC, a few other characters had their share of narrating. As someone who's read three of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, that didn't daunt me, but my aforementioned splattering of Japanese words did. Well, it irritated me, to be exact. They were often unnecessary to the story, and my life-long affinity for everything Japanese was the only reason why it didn't confuse me. If you've watched a decent amount of Samurai X, I reckon you'll be fine, too.

Yukiko is one of those all-around likable main characters. She wields her katana like it's nobody's business and stands up for what she believes is right, even when faced with the impossible. But even then, she's still a normal sixteen-year-old who can get wounded and fancies boys. Her transformation throughout this book is remarkable, hardening her already tough spirit, and she made me facepalm only once with her romance with the green-eyed samurai (Don't even ask me how he, a lordling from an elite family so there's no freaking way he's bi-racial, got those green eyes.) Mad love wasn't what they had—it was mad lust.

Perhaps the other main character in Stormdancer is Buruu, the mythic creature that ended up becoming Yukiko's closest friend and companion. At first he was a beast with a mind sharper than the other animals, but his time with Yukiko made him almost like a human in thoughts. Watching him and Yukiko slowly learn to trust and care for each was fun and endearing.

Plot-wise, Stormdancer wasn't as complex as I'd hoped it would be, and I attribute its length to the clutter that was the prose. Still, its story is a fun, unpredictable adventure that I enjoyed, and I will surely make time for the sequel in the future.

MY FAVORITE PART is Yukiko and her father's bittersweet team-up in the ending.

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