Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: Stormdancer

Author: Jay Kristoff
Release Date: Aug 21st AU | Sept 1st US | Sept 18th UK
Publisher: Pan Macmillan AU | St. Martins Press US | Tor UK
Add it: Goodreads
Preorder: Amazon | Book Depository
A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of the imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers 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 hidden gift that 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.

Stormdancer has already been making waves across the blogosphere and it's easy to see why. Two drool-worthy covers and a synopsis that promises one hell of an exciting ride... there's clearly a lot of expectation to live up to. But if you're doubting for a second whether Jay Kristoff can pull it off, I think my newly acquired chainkatana is begging for some friendly one-on-one time with your neck. Stormdancer lived up to the hype AND THEN SOME. After Braiden bashed us with his love on his blog and twitter and facebook and goodreads and alarmed the neighbours by worshipping the book gods from his front lawn (the last part may be a slight exaggeration), I knew to expect something EPIC. And epic, dangerous, imaginative and heartwarming is exactly what I got.

Yukiko is an amazing heroine. Wise for her age, you'll find it hard not to fall in love with her spirit, kindness and determination right from the beginning. But as impossible as it is to believe, she grows into an even braver, more admirable young woman by novels end. Her mistakes and vulnerabilities make her all the more relatable and strong, for she doesn't define herself by what she does wrong. She rises above and keeps on fighting. She's earned herself a throne right next to some of my favourite leading ladies. Every character shines in Stormdancer; I loved Akihito, Kasumi and Kin, not to mention Masaru, Yukiko's father; their relationship so brilliantly layered and sure to rip at your heartstrings.

It goes without saying that every aspect of Stormdancer is breathtaking, but I'd be lying if I said I loved it all equally. There is one relationship that consumed me throughout the book. Romance be damned, the newest trend we'll all be talking about when the apocalypse hits? HUMAN/THUNDER-TIGER RELATIONS. Not the weird sexual kind, but that touching, soul-deep connection between human and animal. Yukiko and Buruu form an unexpected bond that is nothing short of beautiful to see unfold. The subtle changes in them both as they grow closer, the fierce sense of loyalty and understanding; the trust and playful affection. And when they fight together? There you'll find the art in battle.

It's impossible to leave this book unaffected by their journey and if you do, you either have no heart or your name is Yoritomo (which are pretty much the same thing). Yoritomo takes the crown for best villain of the year. I'm quite a loving creature of the earth in real life (I am), but he's the kind of cruel bastard you want to reach through the pages and slowly drain the life from. He is ruthless and cares for nothing more than his own desires and petty pride. He's not an idiot either, which is never a good combination for one with an high aptitude for evil.

The worldbuilding is amazing; equal parts fascinating, repulsive and beautiful. The mythology itself is a thing to be revered, as is the brilliant mix of STEAMPUNK and JAPAN (I know you're drooling). But the damaging effects the blood lotus trade has had on Shima is heartbreaking to witness. We see the natural beauty that still exists in some parts of the region, and when you compare that with the cities polluted by chi - suffocating air, red skies and a dying environment - it's no wonder there are many enraged to the point of rebellion.

Jay doesn't load everything on you at once; not the worldbuilding or the true heart of characters. He takes his time to give you such a well-rounded perception of the magnificent life he's so lovingly set word to. He cleverly punches a hole in your heart and pushes every inch of his story into it. So when his characters hurt, you hurt. When they laugh, you laugh. Stormdancer exceeds on it's every promise and delivers something truly spectacular; Japanese culture like you're never imagined before, action and politics that keep you poised to the edge of your seat, and Yukiko and Buruu; a duo you're forever cheering to dominate the skies of literature.

5/5 Golden Apples!

34 comments:

  1. You had me sold on the first paragraph! ..Oh no, wait! I already read it. Gods be damned!!!!

    Fantastic review Brodie as always! (Maybe just because you dedicated a whole paragraph to me.) I’m sure Jay will be incredibly happy! "She's earned herself a throne right next to some of my favourite leading ladies.” I feel like Yukiko’s knocked my favourite leading ladies off their perch – Katniss, Eona to name a few. She’s new and vibrant in that world.

    Book two now please, aye?

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    1. *sharpens mind probey tools* I can always make you forget you read it, so you can read for the first time again? :D

      Thanks, Braiden!! Wouldn't it make for one hell of a crossover book with all those kickass heroines teaming up? *dies*

      ACCIO SEQUEL!!

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  2. Wow, you read fast LOL. This sounds so epic - what an enthusiastic review! Eeek. Best villain of the year? Awesome characters? Awesome world building? What! So glad you enjoyed this. I'm looking forward to it now! I must admit, I wasn't hugely keen based on the synopsis alone, so I'm glad I've changed my mind now ;) Great review!!

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    1. You weren’t sold on the synopsis? WHO ARE YOU??

      (I feel like I’m trolling Brodie’s comments already... lol)

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    2. LISA, IF YOU WEREN'T SOLD ON THE SYNOPSIS AND COVER, YOU ARE CLEARLY SOME KIND OF BLIND, NOT HUMAN THING O____O

      THIS IS ALL.

      P.S. I LOVE YOU.

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    3. Because I don't want to break the chain - OMG LISA, YOU WEREN'T ALREADY SOLD?! DEMON CHILD!! But yay! I'm so glad you're considering this now. Which I translate to: HELL YES I'LL READ. Therefore I will pester you come release :D

      LOL I read it in two days. Compared to that one time I recall you reading like... THREE FREAKING BOOKS IN A NIGHT... yeah, I've got nothing on you :P

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    4. ...she read three books in a night? O___O
      WHICH BOOKS?!

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  3. gahhhh! i want this so bad. seems so badass. did you read it on net-galley?

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    1. We got advanced proof copies from the publisher.

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    2. What Braiden said. Australian publisher ROCKS <3 If you're interested, Jay has a giveaway up on his blog to win an ARC + some other amazing prizes!

      http://misterkristoff.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/a-thing/

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  4. See the thing is . . . FOR SO SO LONG I'VE WANTED THIS GOD DAMN BOOK BRODIE! Okay now we've got that out of the way, fantastic review as always! I'm really excited for this title since 1) I'm obsessed with anything Japanese and 2) I'm obsessed with anything steampunk so I'm sold.

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    1. Hahaha with your crazy love of anything related to Japanese, steampunk and well... freaking awesome heroines, I think you will LOVE this Erin! I am really excited for you to read it!!

      Thanks!

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  5. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
    BRODIE.
    I AM SO EXCITED I CANNOT STOP WITH THE CAPSLOCK. WHICH KINDS OF RHYMES. AND IS AMUSING TO ME. AND HONESTLY, EVEN IF I WAS EXCITED, I WOULD STILL BE CAPSLOCKING, BECAUSE EVER SINCE I SAW THIS I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO HELP MYSELF.

    CAPSLOCK IS HOW I FEEL ON THE INSIDE.
    ALL THE TIME.

    THE PROBLEM IS THAT I NEED SOMETHING BIGGER THAN CAPSLOCK TO ACCURATELY EXPLAIN THE DEPTH OF MY EMOTION RIGHT NOW.

    HOW ABOUT THIS? IS THIS BETTER? GOOD. I THINK SO, TOO.

    IT SOUNDS AMAZING. EVEN MORE AMAZING THAN I HOPED AND DREAMED. AND BRAIDEN IS SELLING YOU SHORT. YOU REVIEW IS SO AMAZING, YOU HAD ME SOLD AT 'Review: Stormdancer'. BUT BRAIDEN IS SILLY. SO DON'T MIND HIM.

    And Yoritomo ! Best villain? BEST VILLAIN? YOU ARE GIVING HIM YOUR OWN CROWN FROM YOUR OWN HEAD?


    ALSO: Your picture of Braiden. I DIE.
    ALSO ALSO: I DIDN'T KNOW YOU LIVED CLOSE ENOUGH TO PHOTOGRAPH HIM ON HIS LAWN?

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    1. YOU OUT-CAPSLOCKED THE CAPSLOCK QUEENS, ALICE AND SHIRLEY! :o 'Cept your rhyming skills kinda suck. But you make up for it with your Worship-worthy Awesomeness :D

      *reads episode 8* Oh god. Seriously every time I see you type capslock now, I'm going to think it's one of your serial-killer cats behind the screen.....

      Buahahaha I love you <3 YES YORITOMO IS EVIL! Worse than ME. ME, SARAH. You know it's bad when I willingly hand over the Evil Overlord title :S I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO READS THIS!!!

      ALSO ALSO: Duh, it's called Google Earth. By the way, I just noticed we have the same colour unde-.... er... heh. Hehe. Hee. *closes window* [/creeper]

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    2. I DID, DIDN'T I?
      ALSO: MY SERIAL KILLER CATS LOVE YOU, BRODIE. COME PLAY *GLOWING EYES*

      AHAHAHA! Me with the LOLS, and the LITERALLY. AT WORK O___O

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  6. Wonderful review Brodie!!!!! and all so true. I say YES to it all!!!

    "The subtle changes in them both as they grow closer, the fierce sense of loyalty and understanding; the trust and playful affection. And when they fight together? There you'll find the art in battle."

    You could mop the floor with how much I loved this bond they shared. I think I may have even cried a tear or two when Buruu said certain things to Yukiko. This relationship is too beautiful I am afraid he is going to break our hearts in the sequels...makes me nervous!!! eeep!!!

    Mich:D

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    1. AGREED! Oh man, Buruu and Yukiko put me through so many emotions. Both the good and the heartbreaking. I ABSOLUTELY understand your fears about the coming books.... I swear, if one of them die by the end..... VENGEANCE!!! >:[

      Well, after I recover from the flood of tears *sniff*

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    2. Yes we will have our steampunk pitchforks out, I figure if you can have a chainsaw katana, we can have a steampunk pitchfork, all gadgety, and we will seek vengeance!! I do feel like something is going to happen to breeak our hearts...*whispers* could be very sad...

      MIch:D

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  7. Oh p.s. Does everybody know SPARK is on netgalley...? I snapped it up yesterday:D:D:D:D:D

    Mich

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    1. YES! YES WE DO! YES YES YES! *SQUEALS*

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    2. YESSSSSSSS!!!! I FINISHED IT YESTERDAY *JOINS THE THRONG OF SQUEALING*

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    3. I am now happy bunny cause I can read Storm and Spark together..that was why I was holding off a bit as I knew I could not wait for Spark and With Fire?? gosh brain gone south or is it fearless, darn I think too much Friday night relaxing lol!! I spelt Friday Firday couple times before I got it right...

      Oh yes!! Jay did pull on my heart strings...but trying to keep my mouth shut so that others enjoy..tis hard. Once you have read this book you want to kind of yell it out at the top of your lungs...but must be stealth and ninja so others enjoy:D:D

      MIch

      Oh Brodie..I am rather chatty tonight, just letting you know my winnings from You Give We Give have started to plop in my letterbox. I got Signed Change of Heart hardback Thursday and Starcrossed signed paperback and signed bookmark today. I was a tad confuzzed at first, like where is this coming from and why. Then it clicked. So maybe more of the prizes will appear next week??? I had kinda given up, not being rude, as I appreciate my lovely signed prizes very much. Just thought I would let you know:D:D

      Have a fun weekend:D

      Michelle

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  8. Wow, Brodes! Just wow. I wanted to read this because a. it's by an Aussie and b. it's YA but now I want to read it because c. it sounds amazingly awesome!!!

    I cannot wait to meet Yukiko and Buruu, a thunder tiger? Get out! ;)

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  9. Dude, Yukiko sounds awesome! I am so jealous you got to read this book. It has so many amazing sounding things in it! Thunder-tiger, villain-of-the-year, STEAMPUNK IN JAPAN. I can't wait to read it! Thanks for the brillsome review! :)

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  10. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Brodie! Such an awesome review! However, it doesn't really sound like my cup of tea. I don't know, there's just something about it that puts me off quite a bit. I don't really think I'll be reading this. But thanks for the review!

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  11. I'm drooling here, Brodie, positively drooling! If I haven't already wanted this book desperately, your review would have sold it to me all over again :)

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  12. **Crosses fingers** Please say you liked it, please say you liked it...**Scrolls down to see rating** YOU LIKED IT!!! YAY!!! Lol. I have to admit I've been super excited to read this one! It just sounds awesome, and I love the sound of the mixture of steampunk and Japan. I WANT!!! :D

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  13. This sounds AMAZING. Your review is awesome and it really makes me want to read this asap! I love the sound of the worldbuilding and the Japanese steampunk... and well everything really! Can't wait for this. :D

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  14. HOLY FREAKING CRAP. WHY ON EARTH DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE A POOR, DESPERATE GIRL EVEN MORE DESPERATE FOR THIS, HUH?!??!?! Oh gosh, BEST VILLAIN of the YEAR? W.O.W I'm IMPRESSED. Hahahahahha Human/ Thunder-Tiger relationship? I'm Imagining a girl standing next to a not-so-fierce looking tiger right now :/ but I'm pretty sure that's NOT the image I'm suppose to be conjuring LOL I can't wait to meet these Thunder-Tiger...er...creatures?

    Eeeeeeeeeeep! AMAZING world-building?!?!?! Well....I'd expect nothing less since it's set in JAPAN! Umm....even though I learned 3 years of Jap, and even visited the country for 2 weeks, I STILL have trouble remembering Japanese names :/ I just hope I can remember them all when I read it :S

    ANYWAYYYYYYYYY! FABULOUS REVIEW BRODIEEEEEEEEEEE! SOOOOOO glad you LOVED this!!!!!

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  15. Wonderful review Brodie! Stormdancer sounds incedible! Im so glad this book has a devious souless villain!!!!!

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  16. This is the kind of review that makes me bounce up and down on my chair with exitemtent, Brodie :D I WANT TO READ Stormdancer too! Oh, to buy or not to buy that is the question(or not really ;)).

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  17. Oh my gosh. o: Can you make a book sound even more amazing?! Lol, I HAVE to get my hands on this one, that's for sure. It sounds absolutely fantastic and I can't wait to get to explore it. Amazing characters, including the villain, with world-building... And those Thunder-Tigers! Neeeeeed!

    Love your review! :D

    Also: LOL on the worshiping book gods part! *giggles*

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  18. Thanks so much, Brodie. Really glad you liked it!

    And much <3 to the rest of you peoples, too. I'm really excited for you to read STORMDANCER, and I really hope you like it! :D

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  19. I'm not a huge steampunk girl, but the way you talk about it makes is sound SO interesting and yes the cover is gorgeous!!

    PS. I missed stalking you. Can you tell?

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