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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Posted by Irish in Review7 Comments

Title: Stormdancer (GoodReads)

Source: Amazon Vine
Publication Date: 18 September 2012
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 1250001404
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Pages: 336
The Author on the Web:
Place(s) Traveled to: Shima Isles – Kigen City // Iishi Mountains
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

First Line: As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko couldn’t help wishing she’d listened to her father.

The Lotus War Series Order
Book 1: Stormdancer
Book 2: Untitled (~early to mid 2013)
Book 3: Untitled (~Fall 2014)
First Line: 
Buy the Book:  

I was really excited when I first heard about Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff as it seemed to have so many elements in a book that I was looking for. There was a strong female lead, there were characters of a different ethnicity, there was history, there was steampunk and there was fantasy to name a few. And after the first chapter I was like, wow, this book is gonna be magical as it starts off with such a bang. But sadly, the rest of the book never really lived up to the promise of that opening chapter. 

The first chapter of this book had some real edge of your seat action and I love when books start off running. But then the next several chapters where a bit of a flash back to see how the main character, Yukiko, ended up in that initial fight scene. The abrupt change felt slow to me and there was an EXCESSIVE amount of time spent describing minor details. I’m all for world building when your world isn’t a known place but please don’t spend paragraphs telling me all about a persons clothes or something else that just isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. 

I also think that Kristoff tried too hard to make this book seem Japanese while at the same time saying that its not. That its only loosely based on feudal Japan when all evidence is contrary to that. This book screamed JAPAN in its government set up, in its character dress, and even in many of the words and phrases that the characters used which were all Japanese words. Words which were usually defined in the same sentence that they were mentioned in. Which I though odd and distracting. If these words are native to the culture that the person is in then why do the characters need to define them in their heads? I would have much preferred these words to be defined in a footnote or in a glossary. 

Another thing that really bothered me about this book was all the crazy random head jumping. As many readers know, I love my multiple POV stories but to just jump into someone’s head for a paragraph or two to clarify a point or explain something just comes across as lazy story telling to me. Its more telling and not showing and makes me feel as if the author doesn’t have confidence in my abilities to work things out for myself. 

Yukiko was also not as strong a character as I would have liked as well. Yes, she excelled at fighting and such and was phyiscally strong but she wasn’t very strong in her beliefs. It never seemed to take very much for her to completely toss out what she believed and adopt a new doctrine. Yukiko wasn’t the only character with wishy-washy beliefs though most of the other characters in the book were the same which just added to my general disappointment. Yukiko was also a bit obsessed with a boy which just made me sigh and roll my eyes a lot since she was obsessed with his eyes. She barely spoke to this character before setting out on a journey and then most of her thoughts were all about this upper crust soldier with green eyes. Green eyes in a world that is modeled after Japan. Where all the characters are very clearly and distinctly Asian with a strong dislike for those outsiders from other lands which is why they are at war with them. So, how….how does he have green eyes? 

The basic bones and the premise of Stormdancer were good but it all just sort of fell apart with the execution. I felt like so much was missing in this story and it never lived up to my expectations. The plot was slow and choppy and it took me a long time to get through this story. There were times when I almost gave up on it but I just kept hoping that at some point it would redeem itself. But alas, it never did and in the end I was just left wanting. I have no burning desire to read more of this series as by the end I really didn’t care much for the characters or the world. Though I will reserve final judgement until I hear what book 2 is about. Maybe the writing will be tighter, the storytelling better, and the characters stronger. Anything is possible, right? In the meantime I think that I’ll go re-read Zoe Marriott’s Shadows of the Moon (my review) which had everything that I was looking for in this book, minus the steampunk. 

7 Responses to “Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff”

  1. Katie

    Thanks for the honest review. I have seen some really mixed feelings on this one and I’m not sure if I will pick it up. It sounds so interesting but I’m sad to hear that the execution wasn’t all that great.

  2. Melanie

    That’s an interesting point on the Japanese terms used in the books. I haven’t heard about that aspect before.

    I’m sorry this book disappointed you. I’ve heard a lot of different viewpoints on this book, and I’m excited to read it and form my own opinion.

  3. Howard Sherman

    It’s a shame when a book runs off like a shot out of the starting gate only to peter down to a tepid pace, bogged down by TMI (Too much information). The right balance is tricky to acquire but so, so critical.

  4. Caspette

    No don’t say that. I was really keen on this for all the reasons you mentioned. I tend to get annoyed by excessive detail and when characters seem wishy washy.

    Hmm wonder why he just didn’t make it an alternative history of Japan? and as for the green eyes I know there was actually a colony of Portorguese at one stage (before Japan cut its self off from the outside world) and the Dutch traded and had a presence in Japan from the 1600’s to mid 1800’s. But both nations were confined to the southern end of Japan. So in theory I guess interracial couples could have happened and a Japanese citizen could have green eyes. But this isnt Japan so as you say how could he have green eyes?

    I will still read it but maybe I will bump this down Mt TBR for awhile.

  5. Vivien

    I was able to really like this book. I did want to re-read it though. It was a lot to take in all at once. I need to read more books from this culture.