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Stormdancer has been one of the few books for which I didn’t have cover lust. Well, at least not until I saw the USA version of the cover. That cover was truly lust worthy and it was so much more detailed and spot on than the UK version, but that's just my opinion. I actually wanted to read this book from the moment I saw the review/overview written by the author. I will not go into a plot summary since he explained it better than anyone ever could. If you still haven't read it, you can do so here. Now that I’ve said this…
I had already posted that my reading experience was like a rollercoaster and now I’ll go into details.
When I read the first chapter I thought it was awesome! It was that very high point from which you start and I wanted more. Then chapter two happened and I realized chapter one was a prologue chapter kind of thing to get the readers hooked. However, that was alright because it accomplished its mission. The following chapters go through the introduction of the other characters: Masaru, Akihito, Yoritomo, and so on, and the description of the steampunk, dystopian world we are going to be visiting while reading this book. And that is when the drop comes.
Why? Well, there was so much description being thrown my way that I might have gone into sensory overload once or twice before I got used to it and started to fully enjoy it. It was around chapter ten, possibly eleven, when I was finally totally immersed in the story. It was also when the "ashitora", later known as Buruu, made his entrance. Now, this does not mean, in any way, the writing in the book is horrible, it is quite the contrary. I dare say it's a curse and a blessing since I did feel overwhelmed, but at the same time I wanted to know more about the world he was building.
Some of the plot events were predictable, like the object of her infatuation. I mean, he did have a chapter named after him and she did keep dreaming about him. But others really caught me by surprise, to the point I literally went "Oh...". And that's how the twists and turns happened.
I really liked the way the characters in this book are written. The author introduces us to a few amazing women and men. All of them strong in different ways.
Yukiko was badass. She had always had moments when she didn’t believe in the “system” and even questioned it; still, those had always been internal monologues. So, when she was confronted with the option of actually doing something, she was a little bit apprehensive about it. And that was totally understandable. It’s not easy to try to change the world when you are still a teenager. I also loved the fact that she didn't turn into a lovesick puppy who loses all sense of self-preservation like so many YA "heroines" do when they fall in love or are around a guy. She knew what she had to do and why she had to do it, even when she was presented with hard choices.
Lady Aisha was oh-so-very-smart. She knew how to move the pieces in the chess board to her advantage. She might have also been a surprise, for a few, since why would she, the most powerful female in Shima, want to leave her comfortable and opulent life? Honestly, I can think of one, just one, very good reason from a few lines dropped here and there in the story. BUT! Jay Kristoff, what happened? I was disappointed with what happened with this character. She showed such great potential and could have been used in so many other great ways. Did she really...? Just like that? I am still finding that a little hard to believe...
I loved Kin, since the first time he appeared. Yes, I knew who he was all along. And yes, even after imagining how he looked like as a result of his…accident. I think these three characters show how different sections, even within the government, are unsatisfied with the way things are. They wanted change to one day have a better way of life.
Buruu, was great! I thought the way he evolved as time passed was very well portrayed. He was also grumpily cute.
I have to mention Yoritomo. I have given him an endearing nickname: Yoritomo, the psychotic brat. He can go right ahead and add it to the rest of his titles. He was cruel and a few screws short up there. Because of this every one of his temper tantrums ended in blood and tears or lots and lots of begging, if he was in a good mood.
There were a few things that made me raise my eyebrows, literally...
For starters, I'm assuming, even though the book is in English, that the characters are speaking Japanese. It didn't even cross my mind they would be talking in any other language since foreigners to them are savages. Yet, every so often, a "hai" pops up. If the characters are speaking Japanese, there really wasn't any need to incorporate that. Unless the characters were actually speaking in English and the author wanted to show a particular character's ethnicity. I've read books which are set in English speaking countries and there's a, let's say, Hispanic character. In that case, it is totally understandable why the author would incorporate a Spanish word, or phrase, here and there in the dialogue.
Secondly, the use of "-sama" all by its lonely self. I want to make clear, that I am in no way well acquainted with the Japanese language. I probably know the meaning of, and how to say from the top of my head, a grand total of five words, possibly a few more than that. But I don't remember the honorific ever being used by itself in all the anime and Japanese dramas that I've watched. So, that was a bit surprising.
Thirdly, Hiro, specifically the color of his eyes. Wouldn't he have become an outcast, or worse, because of that, or was it because of the people he "knew" in high places that he was running around freely? I decided, at some point in the story, to let all of that go and just went along for the ride.
The moments leading to the ending of the book were action and surprise filled and emotionally charged. So much happened and I was eating it all up. Also, the way Kristoff used that girl in the epilogue was very good. It showed how Yukiko's past actions will, very possibly, help her gain supporters in her future endeavors .
I actually had a hard time deciding whether to rate this 3.5 or 4 stars. On one hand, there were those chapters that didn't really do anything for me. On the other, there were those when I thought, "Wow, this is really good!". At the end, the latter chapters won and I rated it a four.
So...when is the second book coming?
I received a review ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity!
I am not affiliated with Amazon or any other online vendors.