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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Series: The Lotus War #1
Young Adult
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk
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. 
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. 
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.
*Digital galley provided by the publisher for an honest review*

Oh my, God. My breath was literally taken away by reading Jay Kristoff's masterpiece. Stormdancer couldn't have been more beautifully crafted, and I couldn't have fallen harder than I have over the world and the characters. When I first sought eyes on this pretty: 
1. the cover made me a happy camper because of my love for Japan and Japanese anything. 
2. Japanese Steampunk. Literally. End of story. 
3. Originality. I've never read a novel like Stormdancer
My love for this book goes without saying.

Yukiko is a favorite name of mine, it means snow. Pure and unscathed. So in the vile, poisoned world of Shima with the Lotus killing the ground and destroying the lives of the citizens, Yukiko is a delicate warrior who knows what's right and what's wrong and fights until her very last breath, never giving into temptation or standing down. As strong heroines go, Yukiko takes a seat in the top ten ranking I have going on in my head.

And you can't get any better than a loyal and comedic (from time to time) thunder tiger named Buruu. Though headstrong over issues and a tad bit hung up on killing, Buruu had the nature of snatching up my heart for his own throughout my reading. His relationship with Yukiko is a heartwarming tale. From a rough and rocky start, their travels and survival together weaves together a wonderful friendship and protective nature over each other. Their bond had me melting in my seat while reading because it was just so gosh darn adorable! I could not stop reading once Buruu entered the story and took my heart by storm, literally.

A sad and desolate place Shima is, with the poison drug that the lotus creates and the after affects it has on the people (i.e., blacklung) and the iron weapons, the chainkatanas (yes, chainsaw + katana, motherfudging badASS!), skyships, this Japanese world-building swept me away. I don't know if chainkatana's literally blew your mind, because mine blew up before I even finished the word. 

Final Summation: I have never seen Japan like this. Steampunk themed, feudal Japan in the land of Shima. I was at a loss of thought, and in a good way! Jay Kristoff created a strong and feisty heroine with a pure heart and unyielding volition. Stormdancer is an original novel that shouldn't be missed.

First Line: As the iron war club scythed towards her head, Yukiko couldn't help wishing she'd listened to her father.
Story: XS
Cover: XS