12 October 2012

Review: Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Publication date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

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.

I finished Stormdancer a little more than a week ago. I guess I could have written a review for another book before now, but I didn't want to lose my focus on this one. I'm making all of this sound very serious with a dash of mystery. My apologies. There is something I had an issue with and I've been trying to figure out a respectful way to explain it. Basically, here's what my thoughts and feelings come down to:

I thought the book was just okay.

One of the things I enjoyed, is Jay Kristoff's steampunk Asian world; a world of war, politics, pollution, and advanced machinery. I enjoyed a lot of the characters, but mainly Buruu--oh my goodness Buruu, he steals the show, in my opinion. And while I like Yukiko well enough by herself, it's the relationship between her and Buruu that make the book for me; I found the progression of their relationship to be well done. Also, I loved the history and folklore that Kristoff created for Shima

I've always been drawn to Japanese history and culture (It's second to my Anglophilia.); I've always found it fascinating. Now, I realize that this is a fantasy book, and for that, I believe liberties can be taken. But I do not believe liberties can be taken when they can be considered disrespectful to a culture. The world of Stormdancer is a mishmash of Asian culture. From some other reviews, people have had issue with this, but I'm okay with it. If that makes me an ignorant white westerner, then so be it. Out of this cultural mishmash, I think it is clear that Kristoff mainly chose to use Japanese influences, i.e., the language, the country of Shima, the clothing, weapons, etc. Herein lies the problem for me. If an author is going to draw upon a culture that is not their own, I would assume that they would use the language and terms from said culture or country correctly. Kristoff does not (I could go into details, but that would make this review very long and there are other reviewers, and angry ones at that!, that have explained how.). In fact, I lost respect for him as an author when I found out he got all of his information from anime/manga and Wikipedia. That, to me, is what I find the most disrespectful and rather lazy. Wikipedia is not the be-all and end-all of information. I use it too, but not for, what should be, in-depth research.

Stormdancer is also extremely verbose and overly so. I get wanting to set up environment and surroundings, but Kristoff goes so far as to repeat things he's already described in the scene. The information is just phrased differently each time. I actually found myself skimming passages and this is something I rarely do. Other than that: I found the characters interesting, the invented machinery creative and fascinating, BURRU!, but ultimately it's not a book that's going to stay with me. It could be a book that could stay with you, though! From all the reviews out there, I'm apparently in a minority, but I'm used to being there so...

2 comments :

  1. i haven't read this one yet but i love the cover. not sure how i feel about his research methods but i will read the book before judging.

    ReplyDelete

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