Author: Jay Kristoff
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Amazon Vine
Series? The Lotus War #1
Genre: YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Dystopian, Asian Lit, Mythology
Page Count: 336
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 SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
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. (summary from goodreads)
In trying to write this review, I’ve been stumped on how to express the awesomeness and badassery that is Stormdancer. Not since I read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo earlier this year have I been so blown away by a book. I literally felt empty when I finished Stormdancer — I didn’t want to leave the world that Jay Kristoff created.
Stormdancer is a book that will have wide appeal to teens and adults. While Yukiko, the main character, is a teenager, she is usually quite mature. She deals with many of the issues teens face: a difficult parent, falling in love for the first time, and finding one’s self, in ways that I could believe. A lot of the time with young adult novels, the protagonists annoy me because I can’t remember acting like them when I was a teenager. Not so here.
A lot of Yukiko’s maturity comes from the world she lives in. Shima is a country destroyed by greed. The main crop, blood lotus, kills the land. There are barely any animals left alive, and the skies are blood red from pollution. And Shima’s leader, the Shogun, is a few liters of chi short of a full tank.
The worldbuilding is amazing. I loved that Stormdancer is set in Japan, as most fantasy and steampunk novels are set in Europe, especially England. I also loved that Jay’s writing is so detailed — he describes everything, down to the type of clothing, weapons, and tattoos that people have. That level of detail isn’t for everyone, so you may want to read an excerpt first, but it’s something I enjoy. I always want to know as much as possible about a new world, so I can really immerse myself in it.
At first, I did get bogged down with the details, and on trying to remember everything. After a few pages of focusing, I just let the narrative wash over me, and everything clicked into place. Very rarely did I have to flip back to find out what something was. There’s also a handy glossary included, in case you do need to look up what a term means.
The creativity in Stormdancer is astounding, as are the character relationships. I have to mention Buruu, the griffin (thunder tiger). He makes my list for favorite animal companions in fantasy books. I’m not going to say a lot about why I like him so much, because the explanation would have too many spoilers, but he’s great. I want my own Buruu.
The plot is complex. Unlike a lot of young adult books, the story is told in third person point-of-view, which lets the reader get a clearer picture of everything going on. Happily, Stormdancer doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but there are plenty of open storylines left for the next book in the series.
Rating: 5 owls
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