Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Lotus Wars series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
I have been wanting to read this book forever. When I got the second book for review, Kinslayer, it was the perfect incentive to go pick up the first book from the library. The beginning of this book was incredibly difficult to get through and then the rest of the book was more interesting.
Yukiko and her father are given the impossible quest of hunting down a thunder tiger for the Shogun. It is impossible because thunder tiger’s no longer exist. Still Yukiko and her father either must return with a Thunder Tiger or forfeit their lives. So they go hunting. During their hunt they do find a Thunder Tiger, but after capturing it their airship is struck down by lightning and destroyed. Yukiko finds herself alone in the Shima wilderness with only an angry and hurt Thunder Tiger for company.
The premise behind this book sounded awesome. It was described as a Japanese steampunk dystopia, which I guess it is. Still it sounds a lot cooler than it turned out. The only steampunk element in here really are the airships, there really isn’t a steampunk flare to the story or talk about inventions.
The first 80 pages or so of this book are a major drag. There is just so much info dumping about the history, religion, terminology and world itself that it is overwhelming. Tons and tons of names are thrown at you as well and all of them are very foreign and hard to keep straight. With so much thrown at the reader out of context it makes it very hard to engage in the story. The writing is very dense and I constantly found myself having to go back and reread portions of the writing over and over. The writing flowed very poorly.
After that we are mostly following Yukiko and the story becomes more engaging. When we are in the wilderness with Yukiko and the Thunder Tiger we actually get a chance to meet our characters in more detail and the story gets more engaging. The Thunder Tiger is very sardonically humorous and I enjoyed the dialogue between him and Yukiko.
Even though the last 2/3rds of the book were much better than the first part, a lot of the elements were hit or miss for me. Yukiko is obsessed with a green-eyed samurai that she sees on the street. She thinks and fantasies about him constantly. I thought it was a bit weird and awkward, since this obsession doesn’t really mesh well with the rest of her characteristics. Also it’s a strange idealization of a caucasian attribute in a proudly asian culture.
Also there were inconsistencies. For example a big deal is made about the Thunder Tiger not being able to understand what humans say out loud. Then all of the sudden he can understand everything everyone around him is saying. I think we are meant to believe he is growing in ability? But that is never really made clear and adds more confusion to an already confusing world.
The last portion of the book is all politics, as Yukiko gets involved with a rebel group. This all takes place back in the main city. So again there is a ton of unexplained terminology and lots of names to keep track of. It wasn’t as bad as the first portion of the book, but it still wasn’t all that well done.
The idea behind this story and world is interesting; I just didn’t felt it was executed as well as it could have been. I do have Kinslayer to review as well, I am hoping that that book flows better than this one.
Overall interesting, but could have been done much better. There are just too many problems with how the writing flows, not enough description, and too much info dumping in the beginning. The beginning was very hard to read. The characters are okay but I never really engaged all that well with them, there are just too many distractions. There are also some inconsistencies throughout the story that added to the confusion. I personally wouldn’t recommend this as a great steampunk or a great dystopian read. I have Kinslayer to review, so I will read it…hopefully it will be better than this book.