Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)

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Overall rating 
 
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4.8  (12)
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4.4  (12)
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An Explosive, Breathless Read!
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
At first, I thought the unthinkable. “I’m not going to like this book.” I kept looking at Stormdancer’s gorgeous cover, dismayed that I just wasn’t enjoying the first sixty pages or so. Where was the civil unrest and strong female protagonist I was promised?! But then I met an arashitora, felt it’s song reverberate through my bones and the plot took off like a rocket, twisting and turning and gaining speed until its explosive finish, leaving me breathless!

I only had two real issues with Stormdancer. Firstly, I found the initial set-up to be excruciatingly dull. The same imagery was repeated over and over to convey just how diseased/tepid/stained the landscape was. I liked that it was continued throughout Stormdancer, as it made for nice continuity and a constant reminder that the land was almost damaged beyond repair, but it also got slightly monotonous and I found myself skimming some sections where the same words were used in abundance to describe Yukiko’s surroundings. Secondly, the random switch of PoV was sometimes jarring. Some characters were give mere pages, and then their PoVs were never used again. It seemed like they were given the spotlight to make it easier to explain something, versus having Yukiko learn about it secondhand through someone else and at times, I found it to be a little lazy.

Those small issues aside, I loved everything else about Stormdancer. The Japanese culture was all-encompassing, infiltrating every character and every scene. I loved that it wasn’t mentioned and then forgotten, but that it was quite often highlighted and used to explain various characters’ motivations. Kristoff’s obvious handle on their mannerisms and traditions was flawless. I also loved how seamlessly he infused steampunk elements into such a traditional culture. The ingenuity required to build the Guildsmans’ machines, and the grace and elegance with which they functioned, speak to their Japanese heritage, and the mix of the old traditions with steampunk elements – like chainsaw katanas and chi-powered air ships – was fantastic.

Yukiko was a brillant protagonist. Her sullenness early on showed her young age, but it also made her accomplishments in Stormdancer that much greater. Her growth is astounding, yet subtle. It is only through time and experience that she begins to doubt everything she has been taught, that she begins to question those who would see her dead for even daring to think about questioning them. It is with the understanding that everything is not always as it seems where we see her learn to forgive. And it is with the knowledge of true sacrifice where we see her shine.

"Dying is easy. Anyone can throw themselves onto the pyre and rest a happy martyr. Enduring the suffering that comes with sacrifice is the real test."

Her relationship with Buruu is heartbreaking in its genuineness. Watching Buruu’s gradual acceptance of his “monkey-child” turn into a relationship akin to siblings was an absolute privilege to read. Their ability to work as one was awe-inspiring to witness and the depth to which they felt each others joy or despair was tangible; I felt Yukiko’s angst over Buruu’s clipped wings, and I felt Buruu’s fear for Yukiko’s life when she was held at knife-point.

And I absolutely loved how Kristoff handled Stormdancer’s romance, or lack thereof. Yukiko chides herself for dreaming of the boy with jade eyes when she should be focused on finding her missing friends. When she’s reunited with this boy – Hiro – she feels guilt for enjoying their time together, when she could be planning on how to rescue her father. She never once let’s her feelings for Hiro interfere with her plans, and when she realizes a hard truth, she doesn’t lament over love lost. She takes the time to enjoy love when she can, but while it does help motivate some of her actions, it never becomes the thing that defines her.

Stormdancer has everything: a strong female protagonist, mythical beasts, Japanese Steampunk!, civil unrest, adventure, love, loss, betrayal. While I found it started off slow, it quickly picked up the pace and took me on a journey I won’t soon forget! And let’s be honest. I’m dying to get my hands on an arashitora, even if it’s only a mechanical miniature.
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Japanese Steampunk
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
What grabbed my attention while wondering through the bookshop was the amazing front cover. The blood red smoke and gloomy sky works so well together, as well as the girl on the front (Yukiko) with her fox-tailed tattoo and black clothes, and the shining white thunder tiger in the corner. This cover draws everyone's attention straight to it, and will definitely help sales, and the story itself is amazing.

I loved how Yukiko had the special power that helped her connect with animals. That made her extra special, especially since she used it with the dog in front of the one who orders the destruction of those with it. Yukiko is a strong heroine, and certainly brings so much more into this book. But the writing style doesn't allow us to get to know her as much, and this book would of been so much better if we got closer to her.

I LOVED BURUU!!! He was so cute, and I loved how he had so much emotion and thoughts that stuck to animal like behaviour, but branched off to complex human feelings. Buruu brought humour to this book, and without him, this book would be a lot more dry. I thought it was a great idea to have Yukiko and Buruu to start mingling like they did, swapping animal for human. This is going to be big in the next book, as Yukiko becomes more animal-like.

The romance was slightly confusing, but I'm glad it wasn't a very massive part of the book, like how in some other books, it takes over the plot. I thought that Yukiko was really mean to be with someone because of their eye colour, and not for their personality and how much he had helped her. Kin was so much better than Hiro. But it was good that she feels guilty when she thinks of him and is with him, so that brings her back into my good zone.

Stromdancer is a brilliant book, a new steampunk that will bring joy to reader's hearts.
Good Points
-I loved the plot.
-The characters were brilliant-I really loved Buruu
-I thought that the idea of the lotus flower being bad. I never heard of such an evil flower.
-The thunder tiger or arashitora is now added to my favourite mythical creatures list.
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Great start to a series!
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
I took one look at the cover and thought "WOAH. She looks like a kick-butt heroine." (I love good strong heroines). I had pretty much the same thought as he did: "What's that? You say you've got a Japanese Steampunk with mythical creatures, civil unrest, and a strong female protagonist? I'm afraid I missed everything you said after "Japanese Steampunk". That's all I really needed to hear." That's what I was thinking while reading the blurb / looking at the cover.

During the first pages, I was so confused. And then in the pages after that, I got less confused, but more disappointed. Where was the pow-wow part? Where was the griffin? The awesome protagonist? I was really worried I was going to have to slug through the whole book.

But then, I met the griffin (arashitora). And after that moment, I was completely sucked into the book. Right up until the very end, where I was like "How am I going to wait for the next one to come out?!" I miss Buruu and Yukiko already....

Yukiko is a Japanese girl. She is the daughter of the Master of Hunters, which is a kind of stupid title, since there aren't many animals to hunt anymore. But then, they receive an order to hunt an arashitora, a thunder-tiger (a griffin). But aren't the arashitora all extinct? Well, apparently not... Yukiko meets an arashitora who she names Buruu, and after a while, becomes very close friends with him. But while they are out of the city, they meet some rebels and learn what honour and fighting really means...

I think the random switch of POVs was sometimes confusing. Kristoff should have at least waited until the end of the chapter to switch to another person's view. I suppose it was to make something easier to understand or something, but still. Sometimes it was confusing and a little annoying.

I love Buruu. He was my favourite character, by far. At first we see him as nothing more than an animal, but as Yukiko becomes friends with him, her humanness starts to rub off on him. He was funny in his own way, and he really cared about Yukiko.

Yukiko was a brilliant protagonist. Her growth was subtle, yet astounding. We see her begin to understand the true meaning of honour, and sacrifice, and that was brilliant. As Buruu said, and she comes to understand: "Dying is easy. Anyone can throw themselves onto the pyre and rest a happy martyr. Enduring the suffering that comes with sacrifice is the real test."

Yukiko and Buruu's closeness was brilliant as well. We see Buruu at first only helping her to repay a debt, then we see his gradual acceptance of the "monkey-child", and then we see them develop such a close relationship it is like they are siblings. I was so sad when Buruu obeyed the evil guy just so Yukiko would be safe. My favourite quote of his was "Feathers grow back. Sisters do not." Very heartwarming. We could feel Yukiko's angst for Buruu when his wings were clipped, and Buruu's fear for Yukiko when she was about to die.

The romance was also well-handled. Yukiko chides herself for thinking of the cute boy when she should be worrying about her friends, and when they are united, she feels guilty for enjoying their time when she should be rescuing her father. She also doesn't let her boy problems get in the way of her determination, something we should probably thank Buruu for. She never lets her feelings come before the greater good, and when faced with a betrayal, she puts her feelings aside and does what needs to be done. She does enjoy the love while she can, but it never becomes something that takes over herself. Well done, Yukiko.

All in all, Stormdancer is a brilliant book that has just everything it takes to make me happy, mythical creatures, a kick-butt heroine who is not love-sick, a hateful evil guy, rebellion, and an amazing cover. :P

WARNING: There are a couple of rude words in this book, and a few mentions of inappropriateness.
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Took Me On a Journey I Won't Soon Forget!
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
At first, I thought the unthinkable. "I'm not going to like this book." I kept looking at Stormdancer's gorgeous cover, dismayed that I just wasn't enjoying the first sixty pages or so. Where was the civil unrest and strong female protagonist I was promised?! But then I met an arashitora, felt it's song reverberate through my bones and the plot took off like a rocket, twisting and turning and gaining speed until its explosive finish, leaving me breathless!

I only had two real issues with Stormdancer. Firstly, I found the initial set-up to be excruciatingly dull. The same imagery was repeated over and over to convey just how diseased/tepid/stained the landscape was. I liked that it was continued throughout Stormdancer, as it made for nice continuity and a constant reminder that the land was almost damaged beyond repair, but it also got slightly monotonous and I found myself skimming some sections where the same words were used in abundance to describe Yukiko's surroundings. Secondly, the random switch of PoV was sometimes jarring. Some characters were give mere pages, and then their PoVs were never used again. It seemed like they were given the spotlight to make it easier to explain something, versus having Yukiko learn about it secondhand through someone else and at times, I found it to be a little lazy.

Those small issues aside, I loved everything else about Stormdancer. The Japanese culture was all-encompassing, infiltrating every character and every scene. I loved that it wasn't mentioned and then forgotten, but that it was quite often highlighted and used to explain various characters' motivations. Kristoff's obvious handle on their mannerisms and traditions was flawless. I also loved how seamlessly he infused steampunk elements into such a traditional culture. The ingenuity required to build the Guildsmans' machines, and the grace and elegance with which they functioned, speak to their Japanese heritage, and the mix of the old traditions with steampunk elements - like chainsaw katanas and chi-powered air ships - was fantastic.

Yukiko was a brillant protagonist. Her sullenness early on showed her young age, but it also made her accomplishments in Stormdancer that much greater. Her growth is astounding, yet subtle. It is only through time and experience that she begins to doubt everything she has been taught, that she begins to question those who would see her dead for even daring to think about questioning them. It is with the understanding that everything is not always as it seems where we see her learn to forgive. And it is with the knowledge of true sacrifice where we see her shine.

"Dying is easy. Anyone can throw themselves onto the pyre and rest a happy martyr. Enduring the suffering that comes with sacrifice is the real test."

Her relationship with Buruu is heartbreaking in its genuineness. Watching Buruu's gradual acceptance of his "monkey-child" turn into a relationship akin to siblings was an absolute privilege to read. Their ability to work as one was awe-inspiring to witness and the depth to which they felt each others joy or despair was tangible; I felt Yukiko's angst over Buruu's clipped wings, and I felt Buruu's fear for Yukiko's life when she was held at knife-point.

And I absolutely loved how Kristoff handled Stormdancer's romance, or lack thereof. Yukiko chides herself for dreaming of the boy with jade eyes when she should be focused on finding her missing friends. When she's reunited with this boy - Hiro - she feels guilt for enjoying their time together, when she could be planning on how to rescue her father. She never once let's her feelings for Hiro interfere with her plans, and when she realizes a hard truth, she doesn't lament over love lost. She takes the time to enjoy love when she can, but while it does help motivate some of her actions, it never becomes the thing that defines her.

Stormdancer has everything: a strong female protagonist, mythical beasts, Japanese Steampunk!, civil unrest, adventure, love, loss, betrayal. While I found it started off slow, it quickly picked up the pace and took me on a journey I won't soon forget! And let's be honest. I'm dying to get my hands on an arashitora, even if it's only a mechanical miniature.
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