Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Length: 464 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Lotus Wars series
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. This is the second book in The Lotus Wars. The last book in this trilogy will be released some time in 2014 and is as yet untitled. I really wasn’t a fan of the first book in this series and just struggled through it. I had received this book for review and was dreading reading it; however this book is much, much better than the first one.
There are many storylines going on at once at the start of this book. Yukiko and Buruu are with the Kage’ now helping to plan the Kage’ plan their rebellion. Kin is with them trying to lend a hand as he can. Back at the Shogun’s palace Michi plots to overthrow the current contender for Shogun, who is surprisingly Hiro. Hiro has turned incredibly bitter towards Yukiko and is determined to wipe both her and the Kage’ off the face of the Earth.
This book is much, much better than the first book. The book follows multiple storylines, is epic in proportions, and actually has characters that we can engage with and love.
We meet a lot of new characters in this book, but we also finally get to learn more about and start to engage with some of the characters introduced in the first novel. The story doesn’t really focus on Yukiko but bounces between Yukiko, Kin, Hiro, Hida, Michi, and Yoshi. It is a lot of points of view to read from. However, all of the characters are very interesting and have a lot of depth to them which makes them interesting to read about. I enjoyed all the storylines and never found myself wishing that I could finish up with this character and move on to the next.
Yukiko is going through a lot of growing pains, literally, in this book. Her powers of Kenning are getting out of control and she desperately needs help, but doesn’t know where to get it. There is a little romance between her and Kin, but not much. Yukiko quickly ends up striking out on her own.
Kin is still being prosecuted by the Kage’ even though he is fighting for their cause. When another rebel Guildsman shows up wanting to join the cause, things get even worse. The Kage’ get suspicious and drive Kin and his visitor to desperate means.
We are introduced to a number of new characters as well. The main one is Hida, she works as a piss pot cleaning girl in the castle and ends up helping out the Kage’. Hida’s brother, Yoshi, also features in the story quite a bit. We also get to meet some new Thunder Tigers and learn some about Buruu’s past so that is pretty cool.
Hiro has turned into one mean guy, there were a number of times when his character gave me the chills. He is so righteous and so willing to tramble anything or anyone that stands between him and revenge.
I feel the characters were much more well done in this book. I also felt like we got a better feel for the world and how the people interact with it in this book than we did in the last book. We actually get a chance to appreciate the world building more as we get deeper into the politics and see how a wider range of people live. There are steampunk elements here as well as dystopian elements, all set in a very Asian setting.
There are still some things I had trouble with. We switch viewpoint a lot and it broke up the story. It was also hard to tell whose viewpoint you were reading from at points…you would have to read a page or so and then you would finally able to figure out whose viewpoint you were reading from now. I also just have a lot of trouble reading Kristoff’s writing style, I just don’t like it…it doesn’t flow well for me and I really really have to concentrate to follow it.
This is not a happy book. It is very depressing at times. This book is about rebellion and Kristoff doesn’t pull his punches. His readers are immersed in the misery of the characters as they struggle to build a better world. They all think they are doing the right thing and all of them are willing to let innocents pay the price of a new world.
Overall this book was much better than the first one, which I really did not like. I thought the characters were much more engaging and I finally started to gain an appreciation for this complex world. This is not a happy book, but I did enjoy the intricate plot and the additional characters. I did still have a problem with the writing style and the incredible number of POVs, which really breaks up the story. I would tentatively recommend this to steampunk fans, however read the first couple chapters of the Stormdancer first and see if you can struggle through that before picking up this book.