Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff reviewed by Nikki

Stormdancer by Jay KristoffTitle: Stormdancer
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 336
Published: September 18, 2012
Source: ARC from NetGalley

“All we ask is that you refuse to kneel. You are the people. You have the power. Open your eyes. Open your minds. Then close the fingers on your hand”

*Shivers and enthusiastically raises fist*

I never thought to myself “I need some Japanese steam punk,” but holy shit, did I ever! Once I saw this fierce, gorgeous cover a few months ago, I knew I needed this book in my life. THEN I read the description and I about fell out of my seat, my desire to read it was palpable. I adore all things Japanese; I love the history, mythology, tradition, art and the language. I spent many childhood weekends watching movies like Drunken Angel and Seven Samurai (Kurosawa is STILL the man) and I’ve always dreamed of touring Japan for a couple of weeks when I can save up some dough. I’m going to start saving for that soon, dammit.

I am fairly knowledgeable about basic Japanese history and mythology, but Stormdancer fed my desire to learn like crazy. I often held my Nook in one hand and furiously researched with my Droid in the other hand. Looking up things like the difference between a katana and a Wakizashi and reading further about Japanese mythology. I learned more about Bushido, I’m pretty sure I’m basically a samurai now (well, in my mind I am). I didn’t see the Glossary until I was done, which was fine with me, because what I wasn’t already familiar with I had a lot of fun finding out on my own.

Let’s talk Yukiko! She’s the star of this story. She’s a smart, beautiful free thinker and I love her to bits. She is definitely her father’s daughter, a fox or Kitsune. She’s a born hunter with a secret edge; a mental connection to animals. She’s also got an iron will and more honor than you can shake a chainkatana at. Yep, this book has cool things like chainsaw katana’s, tons of neat steampunk-y things, demons and a griffin too! Must contain nerdgasm…

Yukiko lives in a really dreary dystopian feudal country called Shima. Her country cowers under the control of a spoiled Shogun and are constantly at war. Everything has been overtaken by the highly addictive and pollutant chi. Starvation, disease, addiction, and misery is abundant.

This world is so complex and perfectly woven; its such a vibrant place. It took some serious groundwork, but was well worth the long descriptions and pages full of sensory overloaded goodness. This is a highly sophisticated and imaginative fantasy world. I highlighted so many beautiful descriptions and quotes in this e-book that many of the pages look striped. Check out this pretty pretty little bitty:
“…Walls painted with tiger motifs, prowling in a stylized jungle. Balcony overlook the garden, piteous sparrow song drifting through the open doors, entwined with a blessedly cool breeze. Mats of lotus wicker across the floor, a low table in the middle of the room surrounded by silken cushions…”

Fucking lovely right?!

I wouldn’t call this a YA book, but I wouldn’t call it an “adult” book either. I’d just call it a book for awesome people. It’s too aggressive, gritty, and real for younger teen readers. If you want flowers, unicorns and dancing, this isn’t your book. Then again, you just shouldn’t read dystopian if that’s your bag. Actually, I’ll take a lotus addicted Unicorn in the next book, if possible. The main character is a girl, but this is not a gender-specific book; its not a book for girls and its not girly. I think guys will enjoy it just as much as I did. It is definitely packed with chick power, but you don’t get beaten in the face with estrogen. After all…

“A daughter with courage is a blessing to her father’s house.”

I finished the book on my patio while it was drizzling a bit, it was perfect. I always listen to music as I read and I’ve been on a metal kick lately. So, I was tickled when I read in the acknowledgments that Jay is also a metal fan. I gotta tell you, Pantera sounded fucking fantastic over the ending. This was such a metal book!

Jay…Please tell me this is part one of 20? Nod and/or say hai. It’s not a threat; just ignore the sword I’m holding. I’m cool with your no-happy-endings policy, in fact I prefer it. Oh, and thanks for being awesome. Its books like yours that slap me in the face and remind me again why I love reading. Stormdancer is the dark horse, the book that crept up and sparked my imagination like wildfire. It’s that rare book that stands up and just exceeds the hell out of your expectations. In other words, it blew me away.

QIL (Quotes I loved):

“May you live a hundred years and never have daughters, my friend”

“One day you will understand, Yukiko. One day you will see that we must sometimes sacrifice for the sake of something greater”

“The people of Shima are addicted to chi. The system will not die willingly, it must be killed. Those enslaved will adapt or perish, like any addict denied his fix. But better to die on your feet than live on your knees”

“A conscience is easier to swallow on an empty belly, simpler to swing with a broken wrist. The people who hate money are the ones who don’t have any. The people who hate power are the ones who are powerless”

“All we ask is that you refuse to kneel. You are the people. You have the power. Open your eyes. Open your minds. Then close the fingers on your hand”

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