Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Genre: Steampunk, Young-Adult, Fantasy, DNF
Series: The Lotus War #1
Publication: September 18th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books
Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.
But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.
Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she’s determined to do something about it.
Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?
Before I really begin my review, I know that I’m going to come back to this book one day. I honestly saw tonnes of potential and at times I absolutely fell in love with it, but something just stopped me from finishing it. I delayed writing my review, I deferred reading because I thought I’ll finish it, I’ll read it, but I never have. This lead me to call this book a “did-not-finish” an “abandoned” which I truly abhor to do on every level, but I really couldn’t connect enough. I think the problem I had were the long, lengthy flowery prose and descriptions that made up every section of Stormdancer. Everything was described in detail and laid down for me, leaving me to feel like my imagination was being cut off from being allowed to expand.
“The silken sokutai robe he wore was abominably heavy, layer upon layer of gold and scarlet, and he cursed again at having to wear the confounded thing in this heat.”
I know tonnes of people have rated this book four and five stars and it rocketed to being one of the most anticipated novels of the year, but for me I just couldn’t connect and I’m left feeling a little bit of an outsider to all the joy people found.
The one true element that I absolutely adored from the first moment and would undoubtedly just read about all day was Buruu. Admittedly, he was probably the sole reason I continued to read. If his presence hadn’t been so entertaining, enlightening and simply adorable I would have abandoned this book much sooner. He brought an edge of humour and cynicism to the novel that had me laughing and giggling in delight. I genuinely adore the idea of Griffins as magical creatures and I think this only served to enamour me more and more with Burruu as I imagined him in my head. However, one character alone is not enough to sustain the novel for me.
“She would be a pet, it decided. She could atone for the insults of her pack with servitude. And if not, she could serve at the last by lining its belly.”
And he only manages to get better…
“YOU ARE TALKING TOO MUCH TO HIM. TALK TO ME. Buruu nudged her with his beak, almost knocking her over.”
And even better…
“MUST HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT. LITTLE THING LIKE YOU ENDING FIVE PIT DEMONS ALL ALONE.”
The detailed descriptions may have pushed me away from this novel, but the Japanese terminology was probably a deal breaker. I don’t speak Japanese. My knowledge of the Japanese culture is very limited. I don’t want to pose such blatant ignorance, but it just flummoxed me to be reading about all these things I couldn’t visualise, understand. There is a glossary, but it’s at the back of the book and I was reading an e-book. Obviously my laziness is a factor in the fact I didn’t want to turn every time there was a word, but when there are four or five words on a page, it soon becomes frustrating, so I just attempted to muddle through the best I could.
The scene setting and world building was really good. There was a lot of past history to the world and it seemed to extend in all directions to create a sustained world that is sometimes lacking in other novels. I think Kristoff has to be applauded for the creation and uniqueness of his ideas. I thought his development of the world was incredibly original and it offered so much.
Another issue I had with this novel was my lack of connection with the main character, I just couldn’t find something relatable. I could appreciate her and I like her, but I lacked this connection to what she was doing and everything about her. I think this flummoxed me with the direction of the novel and prevented me from really devouring this novel.
I wanted to like this novel so much and I think there is so much for people to genuinely fall in love with, but honestly, I couldn’t get into it or appreciate it. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to appreciate the magic Kristoff is weaving, but somehow, I don’t think this novel is one for me. Don’t abandon it though, really you should give it a try and whilst I probably haven’t convinced you if you check out Keertana’s review here(Ivy Book Bindings) then I’m sure she’ll be able to convince you to try it in abundance, in a much more coherent way than me!
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* Quotes are taken from and uncorrected proof copy and may change in the final draft.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.